By STEVE BINDER
DIXON, Ill. — In some parts of the Midwest, thanks to a quirky set of weather conditions this spring and early summer, corn crops have gone “retroactive.” In other words, many fields were at heights that used to be the norm decades ago.
“Early-planted (corn) is probably at least shoulder-high,” said northern Illinois grower Larry Hummel, who serves as a crop watcher for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
“And later-planted (corn), I believe, came close to making knee-high by the Fourth of July. So if it were 1939, that’d be pretty exciting, I guess. But these days, that’s not too exciting.”
The most recent data available from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) confirms what Hummel and other growers throughout the Midwest are seeing this summer so far.
Through the week ending July 2, corn that has reached the silking stage is behind the five-year average.
Of 18 states that planted the majority of corn in the United States, only 10 percent of the crop was silking, well behind the average of 13 percent. In Illinois, 12 percent of the crop was silking, well behind the average of 21.
Indiana was faring a little better, with 8 percent silking against the average there of 11 percent, as was Ohio at 3 percent, just a notch below the average; Iowa’s crop was at less than 1 percent, against an average of 6 percent; Kentucky and Tennessee, thanks to drier and warmer conditions at the right time, were the most advanced, with Kentucky at 45 percent compared to the average of 31, and Tennessee at 61 percent silking, compared to the average of 52; and Michigan’s corn is just beginning to mature, hitting the average of about 1 percent silking.
As far as the condition of the corn, Indiana is struggling the most, with just 47 percent rated as good or excellent and 17 percent rated poor or very poor. Illinois’ crop is 65 percent to the upside and just 8 percent on the poor end; Ohio is at 65 percent good or excellent and 8 percent poor or very poor.
The king of corn, Iowa, is at 78 percent good or excellent with just 4 percent poor or very poor; and Kentucky and Tennessee top all states, with 85 and 89 percent good or excellent corn crops, respectively. Soybeans, meanwhile, are faring better than corn throughout this region given their later planting season.
According to NASS, the 18 states that plant the most beans have seen 18 percent of the crop blooming, compared to the five-year average of 17.
Only Iowa and Indiana are slightly behind the averages; Hawkeye growers were at 12 percent blooming, compared to the average of 15, while Hoosiers were at 14 percent of their 15 percent average.
Illinois was right at its average of 15 percent; Michigan and Kentucky were identical at 13 percent, ahead of their 10 percent averages; Ohio posted a 9 percent blooming rate compared to its average of 10; and Tennessee was at 20 percent, 6 points above its average.
While cotton conditions in the crop’s 15 primary growing states were right on average with the prior five years, at 57 percent either good or excellent, Tennessee’s crop is standing out. Growers there have a crop at 89 percent either good or excellent.
Winter wheat growers in Illinois are nearly finished harvesting, and are reporting better results than expected a few weeks ago.
Ninety percent of the crop was harvested as of July 2, well ahead of the fiveyear average of just 72 percent.
Yields in the state likely won’t match the record 74 bushels per-acre average from last year, but it may come closer than expected.
Back in May, on the annual wheat association tour, growers predicted an average of 61 bushels per acre. Now that harvest is nearly complete, test weights and quality appear much better.
“The quality (of the wheat crop) has been excellent. I’m a little surprised by that,” said Dave DeVore, of Siemer Milling in Teutopolis. “Test weights have been 59 to 62 pounds, with some even higher.”
Indiana wheat growers have harvested 56 percent of their crop, ahead of the 50 percent average, while Ohio stands at 39 percent compared to its average of 28. Conditions of the crop in both states were higher than in Illinois, which posted a 64 percent good or excellent rating; Hoosier growers were at 71 percent, while Buckeye growers were at 78.