Illinois farmers have planted more soybeans and less corn this year, a new federal report showed Tuesday, yet they've been menaced by the wettest June on record.
The 10.1 million acres of soybeans planted is up from with 9.8 million last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, while corn acreage is 11.8 million, down from 11.9 million.
Nationwide, a record 85.1 million acres of soybeans have been planted, up 2 percent from last year. Planted corn acres are the lowest since 2010 at 88.9 million acres.
The statewide rainfall average as of Tuesday was 9.37 inches, the most of any June according to records dating to 1895, Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel told The Associated Press. It's also the most rain the state has seen in any month since 9.62 inches in September 1926.
It's remarkable, Angel said, in that the excess moisture spared no part of the state, "with some pockets through the roof."
Near Chester in southwestern Illinois, about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis, 62-year-old Steve Stallman said all the excess rainfall in recent weeks — more than 15 inches — has made this the most challenging spring he's had has a farmer.
Rain kept him from planting about 10 percent of his 300 acres of corn, and he's yet to plant two-thirds of his 600 soybean acres. Of the soybeans he did manage to get in, he's had to replant about half of them because the moisture crimped their emergence.
His fields are muddy quagmires, leading to his four-wheel-drive wheat combine and grain trucks getting stuck.
"They're talking about the weather pattern staying the same for another seven to 10 days," with the prospect of more rain, he lamented Tuesday. "It's very disheartening. There are days this is depressing, no doubt about it.
"But farmers are generally eternal optimists, and you have to experience bad times once in a while to appreciate the good."
With 2,100 acres of corn and 2,200 of soybeans near Decatur in central Illinois, David Brown said the June slog is a contrast to what he called last year's perfect conditions that accounted for bountiful corn yields around his turf.
The fledgling corn crops appear to be in good shape but aren't likely to match last year's showing, he said.
"I can't see out across the corn right now," he said. "This would be a good year to have a drone to fly across the field to see what we get."
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