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July 22, 2015

Trip Report - Illinois

General Comments

  • Two words could describe the crops in Illinois - "highly variable." There is tremendous variability between areas of the state depending on the rainfall. There is also a lot of variability within fields and between fields depending on when the crops were planted.
  • Crop yields will range from very good to zero depending on location.
  • The corn is generally better than the soybeans and any crop planted early is better than any crop planted late.

Illinois Corn

  • There are more good fields of corn in Illinois than bad fields and where the corn is good, it is quite good and where it is bad, it is really bad. The corn in Illinois is generally better than the soybeans.
  • The best corn was generally in the western part of the state and the worse corn was across the central and north-central part of the state.
  • The best corn was the earliest planted and it is tall, dark green, uniform, lush, either in the process of pollinating or has just pollinated and has a very high yield potential probably in the range of 200 bu/ac.
  • A lot of corn is mediocre with a lot of variability in height, poor color, a lot of holes in the field where the corn was drowned out and has a yield potential of maybe 75 to 125 bu/ac. I noticed that there are fields where the outside one or two rows look good, but further inside the field, the bottom leaves are firing. My guess is that this is due to a lack of nitrogen either caused by leaching or the farmer may not have had the opportunity to side dress as much nitrogen as he wanted.
  • The worst corn is very short (knee-high to waist-high), stunted, spindly, yellow, saturated and has a very low yield potential probably in the range of 50 to 75 bu/ac although there will be some corn with zero yield.
  • The Illinois corn crop is probably 15-20% poor to very poor, 20-25% mediocre, and 50-60% good or better.
  • What the crop needs going forward is warm and dryer weather. All of Illinois has ample to excess soil moisture, so the corn could go quite a long time without additional moisture.
  • The statewide Illinois corn yield is really hard to estimate due to the tremendous variability, but right now I would put it in the range of 165 to 175 bu/ac.

Illinois Soybeans

  • The soybean crop is not as good as the corn and it also is highly variable. Some soybeans are quite good and some soybeans are really bad. The best soybeans are in the western part of the state and the worst soybeans are in central and east-central Illinois. The soybean crop in Illinois in general has improved since two weeks ago, but it is still way below par.
  • The best soybeans were planted early and they are thigh-high, uniform, lush, dark green, and with a good yield potential probably in the range of 50 to 60 bu/ac, especially if the weather cooperates during August.
  • A lot of the mediocre soybeans are maybe a foot tall, very uneven in height, light green in color, slow growing, and have a yield potential in the range of 30-40 bu/ac.
  • The worst soybeans are really bad. They were planted late and they are very short (six inches tall), stunted, pale green in color, growing very slowly, and have a very low yield potential. I would estimate that a lot of the poor soybeans will have a yield potential of 20-25 bu/ac, but there will also be some soybeans with zero yield potential.
  • The Illinois soybean crop is probably 20-25% poor or very poor, 30-40% mediocre, and 40-45% good or better.
  • Estimating the statewide soybean yield at this point is even harder than the corn yield, but I would estimate it in the range of 40-45 bu/ac. If the weather going forward is ideal (warm and dryer) and there is a later than normal first frost, the state might end up with a soybean yield in the upper 40's. If the weather going forward continues to be wetter than normal, then the soybean yield might be in the low 40's.

General Comments for the Eastern Corn Belt - I did not travel through Indiana, Ohio, or Missouri on this trip, but I did see all those states on prior trips and the conditions of the crops in those states were worse than in Illinois. The weather in those three states continued to be excessively wet so in general, I don't think there has been much improvement in the eastern Corn Belt. Many of the above mentioned observations for the saturated fields in Illinois could be used to describe the saturated fields in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri as well.