Illinois harvest still slow
PEORIA JOURNAL STAR
EDWARDS — The wet weather kept Ross Pauli from getting into his field near Edwards on Monday but he figures he’s still ahead of a lot of other area farmers.
“We’re done with the soybeans and we’ve harvested about 70 percent of the corn,” said Pauli.
While the state’s soybean harvest is nearly complete, according to Monday’s crop report released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, farmers are only halfway through harvesting corn.
Fifty-two percent of the state’s corn crop was reported as harvested. Over the past five years, 95 percent of the Illinois corn crop had been harvested by this date.
As of Monday, 90 percent of the state’s soybeans had been harvested. In the past five years, 99 percent of Illinois soybeans were harvested by this date.
Pauli called his bean crop “very disappointing” this year. “Yields are off considerably from last year,” he said.
While he averaged 50 bushels of soybeans an acre last year, this year’s bushel counts were in “the low 40s and some even in the 30s” per acre, said Pauli, citing the area’s unusually cool, wet weather as one of “the factors that were against soybeans this year.”
Those cool, wet conditions made white mold more of a problem for beans than usual in this area, he said. “That mold often hits soybeans grown in Wisconsin and Minnesota because of the cooler weather up there. This year, we had that kind of weather,” said Pauli.
A shortage of good growing days was also cited. “A lot of soybeans didn’t get in until June because it took farmers so long to get the corn in this year. Beans like a lot of sunlight and we had a lot of cloudy days this year,” he said.
But Pauli said his 2009 corn yields may equal those of last year. “The corn yields are good. We’ve had some fields with over 200 bushels per acre. I just hope a big wind doesn’t hurt the remaining stock,” he said.
The longer corn stays in the field, the more likely problems can occur, said Patrick Kirchhofer, manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau.
“There is that concern that a big wind storm could do damage. Stalk quality deteriorates with each day. The corn plant is an organic product and will degrade over time,” he said.
Wet corn remains the biggest factor in what has turned into one of the slowest harvests on record, said Kirchhofer. “The last two weeks have been good for harvest. We’ve seen some decent yields but the amount of moisture in the corn stands at around 23 or 24 percent. That means more drying time is needed,” he said.
Corn needs to reach a 15 percent moisture level before it can be stored.
“Farmers just have to wait if they don’t have enough drying equipment of their own. Some of the area (grain) elevators are closing down at midday. Some (are closing) at mid-morning because it takes so long to dry down the corn,” said Kirchhofer.