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July 6, 2011

Trip Report - Illinois and Indiana

Over the weekend I traveled through Illinois and Indiana to check the status of the corn and soybean crops. In Illinois I traveled from Chicago to Bloomington, south to Springfield, south to Litchfield, northeast to Mattoon, and north to Champaign/Urbana. I divided the state of Illinois into three parts: the northern one quarter of the state, the middle half of the state, and the southern one quarter of the state. In general terms, I would say the crops in the northern one quarter of the state are mediocre, the crops in the middle half of the state are in very good condition, and the crops in the southern one quarter of the state are very problematic.

The northern one quarter of Illinois:
  • The problem in this part of the state was excessive rains that caused pounding and standing water and some of the water is still there.
  • Part of the drowned out corn has been replanted to corn, some has been replanted to soybeans, and some was not replanted to anything.
  • The corn in this region ranges from waist high to above my head.
  • In the more saturated areas the corn is very uneven, short, greenish yellow, lacking nitrogen due to leaching or poor root growth, stunted, reduced plant populations, and it is generally in poor condition and has a reduced yield potential.
  • In the better areas the corn is in good condition, tall, lush, dark green, and ready to start shooting tassels probably within 7-10 days. The good corn has an average yield potential.
  • The soybeans are generally small for this time of the year with the tallest soybeans being 12-15 inches tall and the shortest soybeans generally 6-10 inches tall.
  • In the wetter areas, the soybeans are very short and they have a pale green color indicating that the root zone had been saturated and that nitrogen fixation had not yet kicked in.
  • There are drowned out spots in the soybean fields that may or may not be replanted depending on how wet it is.
  • The soil moisture is still excessive in many areas, but the hot weekend temperatures will help to dry things out.
The middle half of Illinois:
  • The crops in the middle half of the state are generally in good condition.
  • There are some holes in both the corn and soybean fields where the crop had previously been drowned out.
  • Generally the corn is tall, lush, and in good condition.
  • There were no nitrogen shortages apparent in this part of the state.
  • The most advanced corn is starting to tassel and most of the corn that was tasseling was in the neighborhood of Springfield and Decatur.
  • The remaining corn will generally start to tassel within 7 days.
  • The yield potential here is very good.
  • I did not think the soybeans looked as good as the corn and the soybeans are generally a little short for this time of the year.
  • The tallest soybeans were 15 inches tall and the shortest soybeans were 6 inches tall.
  • The worst soybeans were very short and there were some holes in the fields where the soybeans had been drowned out.
The southern one quarter of Illinois:
  • This is where there are major problems in Illinois.
  • From Springfield south, the rainfall has been excessive all spring and there is still standing water in places.
  • The soils are just now drying out to the point where I saw several farmers planting soybeans and several others working ground trying to open it up so it could dry out.
  • There are fields that had not been touched this spring and they were full of weeds.
  • Many of the crops in this part of the state look pathetic.
  • If the corn was planted early, it looks good - tall, green and ready to start tasseling.
  • If the corn was planted late it looks terrible.
  • Many corn fields have 50% plant populations, the corn is less than knee high and I even saw some corn that was 6 inches tall. In the wetter areas, the corn is greenish yellow, stunted, in very poor condition, and with very low yield potential.
  • There are many fields in this part of the state that will not yield 100 bu/ac at best.
  • The soybeans in this part of the state range from 12 inches tall to just planted and not yet emerged.
  • As bad as some of the corn looked, I though the soybeans looked even worse.
  • There are a lot of holes in the fields where both the corn and soybeans had been drowned out.
  • The crops in southern Illinois are going to be very disappointing.
  • After I traveled through southern Illinois they received even more rain, which will saturated the soils once again.
Illinois summary:

The northern one quarter of the state was about as expected, the middle half of the state was better than expected, and the southern one quarter of the state was far worse than expected. Last year, the corn crop in Illinois averaged 157.0 bu/ac. If the weather during the remainder of the summer is very good, the corn crop might reach the 157 bu/ac level, but it will not reach the 174 bu/ac achieved in 2009 or the 179 bu/ac achieved in 2008.

The soybean crop in Illinois has a long way to go. The crop should do fine in the middle half of the state, but it is so delayed in the southern one quarter of the state that most of the soybeans will behave similar to double crop soybeans. Last year, the soybean crop in Illinois averaged 51.5 bu/ac. Even if the weather remains very good for the remainder of the growing season, I do not think the 2011 soybean crop in Illinois will get close to yielding that high. If we have a good summer, the crop might equal the 46 bu/ac in 2009 or the 47 bu/ac in 2008.

Indiana

In Indiana I traveled east from Champaign/Urbana, IL to Indianapolis, then north to South Bend and east back to Chicago. I am going to divide Indiana into the central one third of the state and the northern one third of the state. In general, I though the crops in Indiana looked worse than I had been expecting because so many of the crops are very late and in poor condition.

The central one third of Indiana:
  • The crops were very late in this part of the state.
  • There were a few fields where nothing had been done this spring and the fields were still full of weeds.
  • The tallest corn was maybe shoulder high and the shortest corn was maybe a foot tall. A lot of the corn fields did not make the old saying of being "knee high by the Fourth of July"`.
  • There are a lot of drowned out spots in the corn field with some of the spots already replanted, but others not. A lot of the corn was very uneven with good spots and terrible spots in the same field.
  • In the wettest areas, the corn is short, stunted, pale green, and very late.
  • The most advanced corn looked good and will start to tassel within 7-10 days. The most delayed corn will not tassel until early August.
  • The soybeans were very short and delayed for this time of the year.
  • Many soybean fields were just a few inches tall because they had just emerged.
  • There were a few fields that had been planted, but had not yet emerged.
  • A lot of the soybeans looked really bad for early July.
  • The soils in this part of the state were starting to dry out.
The northern one third of Indiana:
  • The crops looked a little better in the northern part of the state, but still far from being a normal crop.
  • The corn was a little taller here ranging from waist high to shoulder high.
  • The most advanced corn will start to tassel in about 10-14 days. The later corn will not tassel until late in July.
  • In the wetter areas, the corn is uneven, pale green in color and there are some holes in the fields where the corn has drowned out.
  • The soybeans in northern Indiana are very short and delayed for this time of the year.
  • The tallest soybeans were maybe 10 inches tall and the shortest soybeans were just emerging.
  • Parts of northern Indiana have received lake-effect rains over the last few days and as a result, there is again some standing water.
Indiana summary:

In general, the crops in Indiana were worse than I had expected. Last year, the corn crop in the state averaged 157.0 bu/ac, but I think that would be hard to repeat even with good weather during the remainder of the growing season. Certainly, the corn crop in Indiana will not repeat the 171 bu/ac yield recorded in 2009 or the 160 bu/ac recorded in 2008.

The soybean crop in Indiana has a lot of challenges ahead of it. The crop is so late compared to the average that it will not repeat the 48.5 bu/ac recorded in 2010 and maybe not even the 45 bu/ac of 2008.