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Pockets of Good Crops in Eastern Corn Belt

Western Illinois claims excellent corn pollination.

For 2017, the ‘garden spot’ of the Corn Belt is believed by many to be between Peoria, Illinois, and Ames, Iowa. If that is the case, Dave Mower, a consulting agronomist located in Toulon, Illinois, is right in the midst of that garden spot.

From west central Illinois, crop conditions taper off in every other direction except west, Mowers says.

Illinois’ corn is rated 62% good/excellent, below the U.S. overall rating of 64%. Meanwhile, 63% of the Illinois corn crop is in the silk stage, behind the state’s five-year average of 68%, according to the USDA’s latest crop conditions report.

“In the northern, eastern, and southern parts of Illinois, we have a lot of field variability this year,” Mowers says. “And I will say this, we do not have the crops that we had last year.”

Illinois corn and soybean growers have had everything thrown at them from Mother Nature, Mowers says.

“We have areas of the state that have had excessive rain, other areas that are too dry, and then my area of west central Illinois that has had excellent corn pollination,” Mowers says.

Though June was very dry for most of the state of Illinois, with some spots receiving no rain, July has brought relief with rain and humidity.

“This humidity helps too. Even though human beings don’t like it, it’s just what the crops love. Humidity is the crop's friend,” Mowers says.

Some of the fields of his farmer customers are yield-testing fairly strong for this time of the year.

“A few of my clients say they have ears that read 18 rows of kernels around and 40 kernels in length. Those numbers have the potential to yield around 200 bushels per acre or better. But time will tell,” Mowers says.

There is one thing that Mowers doesn’t think has been considered and that is the setbacks from all of the cloud cover this growing season.

“We have not had the amount of full sunny days to get maximum photosynthesis needed for this corn crop. And we may pay the price for that. In addition, this pollination follows right along with the toll on the crop in May during that cold stretch,” Mowers says.

That May weather created uneven emergence, poor shading, spotty tasseling, and seedling mortality. As a result, we could see some uneven moisture levels in this corn crop at harvest. This variability will make for tougher dry down efforts at harvest, the Illinois crop consultant says.

Illinois Soybeans

The west central Illinois soybeans look good, but it’s only July 21. And therein lies the problem.

“I just can’t say too much about a bean crop until later on in the year,” Mowers says.

The Illinois soybean crop is rated 67% good/excellent vs. the overall U.S. crop rating of 61%, according to this week’s USDA Crop Progress Report.

For Illinois, 30% of the soybeans have entered growth stage R3 (pod-setting), the USDA report stated.

Dicamba Troubles

“We are seeing leaf cupping. More than likely this is due to dicamba damage. You can see it from the road, while driving 55 miles per hour. That has become a real issue. Whether it will cause yield loss is indeterminable. The combine will determine that result,” Mowers says.  

Illinois is also facing issues with the infestation of this year's Japanese beetles, as is Indiana.

Indiana Crops Vary Widely

In its latest Crop Progress Report, the USDA rated the Indiana corn crop as 47% good/excellent vs. the overall U.S. crop rating of 64%.

Kent Haring, Medaryville, Indiana, says that he feels fortunate to be in the part of the Hoosier state where crops are looking green in July.

“I would grade the corn crop, in my area, at an A-minus to a B-plus. And the soybean crop is a B-plus,” Haring says. "Things look pretty good, nothing to brag about on the upper echelon, but no bad crops either.

"We have very few problems with our crops, despite a goofy spring. Right now, we feel pretty fortunate, quite honestly,” adds Haring.

While Haring’s corn crop has not pollinated, overall, Indiana’s crops reflect a slower developing growing season.

As of this week, just 39% of Indiana’s corn crop is in the silk stage vs. the state’s 51% five-year average.

The bad part of the Indiana crop story is that there is a lot of pest and insect pressure, this year.

“As we speak, a yellow crop-dusting airplane is flying over my head,” Haring says. “Plane are flying all over the place, applying fungicide and insecticide. We have western cutworm, bean leaf beetle, and Japanese beetle pressure (as shown in the photo above)."

Haring adds, “There are clipped silks everywhere. There are bugs everywhere.”

For soybeans, the Indiana crop is rated at 49% good/excellent vs. the U.S. 61% rating, the USDA stated this week. Also, 27% of the Indiana soybean crop is in the pod-setting stage.

“The soybeans change so fast. But, they look good. We planted all Dicamba soybeans and they are doing well,” Haring says.

The 2 inches of rain a week ago has helped Haring’s crops survive some extremely hot days.

“We have water ponding in my driveway, right now. So, we don’t have a water problem.”

Ohio Looks Green

Justin Barnes, a south-central Ohio farmer, says that this week’s 6 inches of rain have his corn on its way.

“It’s a great feeling to see green crops in July. We didn’t have that last year. Plus, in June we went three weeks without any rain,” Barnes told

Barnes has corn that is fully pollinated with brown silks. “We’ve had very little pest pressure. I applied fungicide to both the corn and soybeans this week. And I think we will have a better crop this year than last year,” Barnes says.

In south-central Ohio, there was a record amount of replanted crops due to flooding. “We had a lot of crusting of the soil at planting time. So, we have corn that has just tasseled in the area. And the soybeans are in good shape, but they could still go either way,” Barnes says.

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