Recent rains have harvest a little behind schedule, but Highland area farmers are reporting decent yields for what has been harvested so far.
“Yield-wise, it won’t be any record-setter for us, but the yield will be in the top end of years past,” said Bob Luitjohan, of Oberbeck Grain Co. in Highland and New Douglas.
Corn condition across the state was rated 4 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 26 percent fair, 48 percent good, and 15 percent excellent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“I’m seeing a lot of corn yields anywhere in that 180- to 205-, 210-bushel (range), and the bean yields are anywhere from 55 to 60 bushels all the way up on into the low 70s,” said Brent Phelps, farm manager of the 1,800-acre Gelly Farms near Highland.
The USDA’s September predictions for Illinois corn and soybean yields were 189 and 58 bushels per acre, respectively.
“It’s gonna be better than USDA’s average. We’ve got guys talking 200-bushel-per-acre-plus on corn and some 60-bushel-per-acre bean yields,” Luitjohan said.
But you don’t have to travel very far from Highland to find yields that are not so favorable.
“It seems like we are in a really good area right through here,” Phelps said. “I know I was down south — in Nashville (Ill.) and that area down there by St. Libory — (and) some of the corn yields and bean yields were not as good as they are (here),” Phelps said. “We are very fortunate here in the Highland, Trenton, kind of the Marine area, to have hit some really good rains.”
“There’s also some areas, again, when you get outside our draw area, that those guys are going to have a half a crop or less,” Luitjohan said. “I mean, they were hit very hard with no rain and hot temperatures during pollination.”
In 2016, Illinois produced more than 2.25 billion bushels of corn with an average of 197 bushels per acre. The best average for corn last year was in Tazwell County in Central Illinois (Pekin, Morton, East Peoria), where farmers produced 236 bushels per acre. Johnson County, located in Southern Illinois (Vienna), had the worst at 93.9. (USDA did not have recorded corn totals for 10 of Illinois’ 102 counties last year.)
There were 111,000 acres of corn planted last year in Madison County, with an average yield of 172 bushels per acre. In 2015, corn average 169.8 bushels per acre in Madison County. In 2014, the average was 191.6.
The state produced about 593 million bushels of soybeans last year, with an average of 59 bushels per acre. Carroll County in Northern Illinois had the best average with 69 bushels per acre. Pope County in deep Southern Illinois had the worst at 35.1 bushels per acre, with no reports filed on six counties.
Soybean acres planted last year in Madison County totaled 117,500, with an average yield of 54.7 bushels per acre. In 2015, the soybean average production for the county was 55.1 bushels. In 2014, it was 52.7.
From 2014 to 2016, corn had an average price around $3.50 per bushel, and soybeans averaged about $9.50 per bushel, according to the University of Illinois.
On Tuesday afternoon, Oberbeck was paying $3.10 per bushel for corn and 9.21 per bushel for soybean delivered to its elevator in Highland.
Back on track
Corn harvested for grain in Illinois was 62 percent complete, compared to 74 for the 5-year average, according to the USDA’s crop and condition report for the state published on Oct. 23.
“We’re probably half to three-quarters done. I’d say, in the area, 75 percent of the crop has been harvested,” said Phelps.
Soybean harvest was 77 percent complete, compared to 73 percent last year, according to USDA.
“We had some rain move through, and then we had some foggy mornings, which that soaked into the stalks and didn’t allow for just a whole lot of harvesting,” Luitjohan said.
But it won’t take long for farmers to finish up.
“We need at least two more good weeks,” Luitjohan said.