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Planters Rolling in Illinois

April 18, 2012

AgDay continues to make the trip across I-80 for the 2012 planting tour. For the next stop, National Reporter Tyne Morgan visited a farmer in northwest Illinois who finally got the green light to plant.

"The crop insurance date for our area here is April 6, so we waited until the date and started planting," said Geneseo, Ill., farmer Scott Cocquit.

That key crop insurance date signaled planting could begin for him. Holding off until the beginning of April, however, wasn’t easy. The warm temperatures in late March helped boost soil temperatures. This created conditions that allowed Cocquit the option to start at least 10 days prior. No matter how anxious he grew with each warm day, he knew the wise decision was to hold off.

"To see this ground in this type of condition this time of year, I mean the calendar and the ground conditions didn't go together this year," he said. "The earliest we've ever started before was April 12, so this is unusual for this area."

Once April 6 rolled around, the weather cooperated and Cocquit is now 20% planted. Normally, or at least the few years prior, that number would have been zero. But the calendar, plus sporadic cold fronts dipping temperatures into the lower 30s, continually remind him it’s still early spring. Since Cocquit decided to go ahead and plant, these reminders are causing him to worry.

"My biggest fear is getting a frost the 20th or 25th of April and dealing with corn trying to come back if it gets frosted off," he said.

That reminder is also causing Cocquit to take his time planting. The past several years, it seemed planting was a race against Mother Nature; a race where Mother Nature held the winning record. With cool, wet spring months, farmers struggled to get their crop in the ground before summer. It seemed Mother Nature won each year.

This year is off to a different start. In fact, where Cocquit farms, the problem this year is too little rain. That’s forcing some farmers in the area to continue the waiting game for planting, at least until Mother Nature brings moisture their way. This past weekend some farmers welcomed much needed rain.

Cocquit had farms receive anywhere from 1/2" to 3" of rain. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for his newly planted corn.

Cocquit said although he’s in the field earlier than ever and has the opportunity to get his corn in the ground in record time, he’s planting more soybeans this year; the price ratio is just too good.

"We've been more corn in the past, but we are about 50/50 corn and beans," he said.

Join AgDay next week as Tyne continues the I-80 planting tour from another "I" state to see if farmers are rolling in the fields like Cocquit, or if planters are at a standstill.

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