State could be on its way to record crop yields

Illinois farmers may be looking at record-topping yields for their corn and soybean crops, due to the heat and humidity that’s lingered through the summer months.

Scouts from Premier Cooperative recently completed a survey of local cornfields in Champaign County, along with portions of Vermilion, Piatt, Douglas and Ford counties. They estimated an average annual yield of 224 bushels per acre, topping 2014’s record of 221.

The projected bounty is the result of the region’s higher-than-usual rainfalls, according to Premier CEO Roger Miller.

“I would say we’re averaging around 21 to 22 inches of rain, from April 1 to August 15,” Miller said. “The moisture has fallen in a more timely manner. It’s been throughout the summer. We’ve had rain every week to two weeks, and it’s been very beneficial for our area.”

Still, “not all areas in Illinois have been that fortunate. There’s areas that went three or four weeks without rain and those areas’ yields probably won’t be as good as the areas we’re seeing here in East Central Illinois,” he said.

Of course, not all the effects of the unusual storm systems have been good ones.

“There’s quite a bit of wind damage in the corn fields where some of these rains have come along with pretty strong, straight-line winds, and we’ve got a lot of corn that’s leaning in the field,” Miller said. “The other downside is leaf diseases, some molds and fungus in the corn crop that you wouldn’t have under drier conditions.”

Then, “there’s an old saying that says the soybeans like dry feet. Well, they sure haven’t had dry feet this year,” so “I don’t know what kind of disease pressure we’re going to see in the soybean crop as we finish it out here,” he said.

Farm advisory service Pro Farmer reported at the end of its annual four-day Midwest crop tour Friday that it anticipates bumper corn and soybean crops in the U.S. this fall that will nonetheless fall below the federal government’s latest projections.

In Illinois specifically, Pro Farmer predicted 194 bu. per acre. The report continued that the state’s current crop, though impressive, will fall short of 2014’s high-water mark, as it were, because, unlike the conditions back then, today’s crop isn’t as uniform as it was two years ago in the sampled — and lagging production in southern portions of the state will pull down the overall statewide yield.

The Pro Farmer report also expected the state’s soybean crop to yield 58.5 bu. per acre, explaining that although exceptionally tall — when tall beans often don’t always produce big yields — the Illinois soybeans appear to have more than enough pods and sufficient moisture to surpass the USDA’s estimate earlier this month.

Pro Farmer predicted a national average corn yield of 170.2 bushels per acre, on track to a record 14.728 billion-bushel crop, but still short of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s forecast of 15.153 billion bushels with a yield of 175.1 bushels per acre.

Pro Farmer’s soybean production estimate would also hit a record 4.093 billion bushels, based on an average 49.3 bushels per acre yield — which is higher than the USDA’s August prediction of a 4.060-billion-bushel harvest with an average yield of 48.9 bushels per acre.

Premier’s Miller has pegged Sept. 15 as the harvest season’s expected start date.

–Illinois News Network

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