Like many states in the central and eastern Corn Belt, Illinois experienced its wettest June on record this year. The Midwestern Regional Climate Center says pockets of the state saw precipitation 224% above normal. Northeastern Illinois was one of the areas hardest hit.
“This area was all underwater. You could take a row boat from the edge of this grass here all through this area,” said Mark Wills, a farmer in Coal City, Ill.
A lot has changed throughout the growing season in northeast Illinois. But some remnants of the season’s heavy rains remain. “Most of the guys are just trying to take the crop out and be done with it, I think,” Wills said.
Wills may be taking a rain break today, but the majority of fall weather has let him harvest early.
“It’s just been a great stretch of weather,” said Wills.
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That’s quite a change from months earlier. The area received about 30 inches of rain in June. A tornado then ripped through his small Midwestern town shortly after.
“This area here is probably 170 bu. per acre all the way to 40. Where I had the tornado go across, we had 40 bu. yields on corn. I’m doing a field of beans here that’s 45 bu. per acre so that’s not real good,” said Wills.
With his averages down, this is shaping up to be a ‘crop insurance’ year. "I think there will be a lot of federal crop on corn in this area,” said Wills.
His soybeans are doing better than he expected. "The beans have been everywhere from 40 bu.per acre to 62. We have a lot in the mid-50 range,” said Wills.
Thirty minutes northeast, Jim Robbins is taking the wet afternoon to fix machinery. He too, would rather be rolling. “If you talk to some farmers, it’s a sigh of relief. It’s turning out better than I anticipated it was going to. Earlier, I kept telling my wife that I just want to get this year over with because it was a struggle,” said Robbins, who farms in Manhattan, Ill.
Robbins’ area was hit with just half of the June rainfall Wills received. “Beans may be a little above average but with corn, we’re going to be about average,” said Robbins.
Robbins said the soybean yields are doing well for the amount of stress it was once under. “The size of the bean is exceptional this year. So, that’s helping on yield with beans,” he said.
He also noted that some farmers in that area may have to rely on federal crop insurance this year. “From one end to the field to the other, you might be 0 to 250. Everybody is seeing that around here,” Robbins said.
It’s a season many farmers in the “I” state aren’t used to, as a rain delay this harvest becomes a firm reminder of the yields the wet summer robbed from their bin.
“Markets aren’t that good. It will take a bit of money to make a profit this year. I don’t think it’s going to be there. I think it’s going to be a pretty stressful year,” said Wills.
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