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July 17, 2012

Trip report - Illinois and Michigan

Late last week and over the weekend I traveled through Illinois and Michigan. In Illinois the route was: Chicago, Champaign, Springfield, Lincoln, Macomb, Monmouth, Princeton, and back to Chicago. In Michigan the route was from Chicago to East Lansing and back to Chicago.

Illinois Conditions

There were some scattered showers across Illinois over the weekend with a few lucky farmers getting enough rainfall to sustain the crop for another week. Most areas that received rainfall only received light showers which will result in a brief and temporary reprieve for the crops. Most areas received no significant relief at all. No area of the state received enough rainfall to reverse the current dry trend. The lawns are brown across the state, the trees are losing some of their leaves, and I only saw one person cutting grass in 10 hours of driving.

Illinois Corn

  • The corn crop in Illinois varies from average to extremely bad with the potential yields ranging from 160 bu/ac to 0-20 bu/ac, if a farmer would decide to harvest the worst fields.
  • The best corn in Illinois is found in the north-central part of the state and the crop gets worst as you go south and west in the state.
  • There will be much more abandonment that normal this year due to the dire condition of some of the corn.
  • There are patches of corn where the crop is dying or dead depending on soil type. The worst corn is on the lighter soils. There is a lot of variability within a field depending on soil type.
  • There is a tremendous amount of foliar diseases on the corn and Japanese beetles are clipping a lot of the silks.
  • Tip-back is already starting in the stressed areas and more kennel abortion is expected in the days ahead.
  • Even in the better fields, there was tip-back on the ears and blank stalks that did not produce any ears.
  • It was too early to do any widespread accurate yield checks, but when you looked at the ears, they were generally worse than what you would expect when looking at the field from the road.
  • The best areas of the state were about as expected and the worst areas of the state were worse than expected.
  • Additional rainfall would not reverse any of the damage done to the corn (in the worst areas, it's already toast), but it would help to fill the grain.
  • The Illinois corn crop will continue to lose yield on a daily basis.

Illinois Soybeans

  • The soybeans in Illinois are holding their own while they wait for additional moisture.
  • The soybeans are shorter than normal, stunted, and growing slower than normal.
  • The height of the soybeans range from a few fields that was knee-high to some fields of double crop soybeans that were only a few inches high. Almost all the crop is shorter than what it should be this time of the year.
  • Spider mites are starting to show up which is common during droughts.
  • In the worse areas there were patches of dying soybeans on the lighter soils.
  • A lot of soybeans were wilting in the heat of the day and will continue to be slow growing without additional rainfall.
  • A lot of the soybeans were actually better than I expected when compared to the corn, but their critical time is still yet to come and they will need additional moisture to fill the pods.

Michigan Corn and Soybeans

  • The crops in Michigan were much worse than I expected.
  • Much of the corn was short, stunted, poor color, and obviously suffering from severe moisture stress.
  • On the lighter soils and hilltops some of the corn that had fired up to the top of the plant and it had died without ever setting an ear.
  • It was too early to accurately judge pollination, but it is certain to be poor.
  • The later planted corn was in the worst shape than the earlier planted corn.
  • The soybeans in Michigan are short, stunted, and in dire need of a rain.
  • The tallest soybeans were maybe a foot tall and the shortest soybeans were only a few inches tall.
  • The soybean yield in Michigan is going to be very disappointing.
  • There will be higher than normal abandonment for both soybeans and corn.