Corn, soybean planting in Illinois delayed by cold temperatures and rain

An empty field on the west side of Springfield, Illinois.
An empty field on the west side of Springfield, Illinois.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 5:23 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Illinois producers are struggling to get corn and soybeans planted this spring. The latest crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows there were 1.5 suitable days for fieldwork last week due to rain and colder temperatures.

Only 2% of the state’s corn has been planted so far this season; that’s compared with a five-year average of 21 percent. One percent of the soybeans in Illinois were planted last week, while 16% of the crop was in the ground at this point last year.

Although, this issue isn’t unique to Illinois. Inclement weather has challenged most of the Corn Belt, and only 4% of the country’s corn was planted by April 17.

Still, USDA Illinois NASS statistician Mark Schleusener said there is still some time to make up for this delay.

“As we get into May, then people will start to get more and more worried. In the middle of May, there starts to be a significant yield drag on corn and soybeans in Illinois,” Schleusener said Monday. “And by late May, the yield impact is significant, and significant in a bad way.”

The University of Illinois farmdoc group estimates nearly 80% of the state’s corn crop can still be planted by May 10. But experts say further delays with cold temperatures and storms could lower that percentage.

Schleusener says Illinois needs at least four good weeks to get enough corn and soybeans planted and tilled. New farming equipment can help plant crops much quicker than producers had years ago. However, Schleusener says many producers will be forced to make some decisions that they don’t want to make since soil conditions won’t be perfect.

“You never get to perfect,” Schleusener noted. “Maybe you can get to really good or very good, but sometimes as you see the calendar days fall off it’s time to get going and people will be wrestling with those difficult choices.”

He says farmers are evaluating their fields to see if they can plant their corn or soybeans right now. Schleusener says some producers may be in a position where they can’t plant this spring and will just spray to kill off weeds.

Still, he explained this isn’t the worst-case scenario. Schleusener argues that 2019 was the worst year for planting in the Midwest due to heavy rains and flooding.

“It’s not just the farmers and the ranchers that are wanting some better weather,” Schleusener said. “I think we’d all like to have some more sunshine on our faces and some more warm temperatures. Let’s have four or five nice days in a row. In fact, let’s have two nice weeks in a row.”

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