Agronomist Calls Northern Illinois Crop Progress 'Variable'

Jun 9, 2017

Corn growing in a field north of DeKalb
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

After numerous delays caused by wet weather, almost all of the corn and much of the soybean crop has been planted in northern Illinois. Predictions are that the 2017 corn and soybean harvests in the region won’t match recent record-breaking yields but could still be good. Right now, though, progress is uneven. 

Morris-area farmer Russ Higgins, an agronomist for the University of Illinois Extension, said that -- while it was wet all over -- differing rainfall and drainage across the region has meant a wide variation in the status of this year’s crops.

Some farmers got their seed planted early, others late, and some had to replant due to flooding. So the key word so far is “variation.”

“We have corn that is eight to ten inches in height all the way to corn that was just put in the ground or just starting to spike,” he said.

But, Higgins said, the delays were a boon for some plants -- weeds.

“They were allowed to reach maturity, to flower and in some cases to produce seed, making control much more of a challenge,” he said.

Higgins said some areas -- especially LaSalle and Grundy Counties, for example -- have seen entire fields taken over by flowering weeds.  Getting rid of them and stopping their seeds from spreading further is a priority for farmers, not just for this year, but future growing seasons as well.

Cornfield near DeKalb
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Despite all the problems, Higgins said area crops are making good progress now. 

Higgins said the late start planting means the window of time for the crops to ripen and dry enough for harvest will be narrower.  A  lot will depend on the weather over the next few months. But Higgins is optimistic, and foresees a good, if not record-breaking, year for farmers in northern Illinois.