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Illinois planting 'at record pace' following wet spring

PEORIA, Ill. — A picture-perfect beginning to the spring of 2018 had farmers dusting off their combines and racing to complete – or, for some, begin – planting across the state of Illinois during the past two weeks.

In fact, this year’s corn and soybean crop was planted at a “record pace” from late April through last Friday in Peoria County, according to county Farm Bureau manager Patrick Kirchhofer.

“I would estimate 90 percent of the corn is planted and 75 percent of the soybeans in the Peoria area,” he said. “Much of the corn can be rowed and looks to be off to a good start to the growing season. We could use some rain for the soybeans, as soils are drying out.”

Most Peoria area farmers had progressed to spraying, though many sprayers had been idled because of persistently high winds, Kirchhofer added.

Across the Illinois River in Woodford County, Mike Wurmnest of Deer Creek was also eager to spray on the afternoon of May 11. He said planting of both corn and soybeans took off in his area after the wet and cool weather (April was second-coolest in Illinois’ recorded history) finally dissipated.

Corn was showing good emergence and soybeans were 100 percent planted on his farm and on those of many of his neighbors.

“We’re pretty happy with the way everything is coming up. We had a very cool April, but when it turned around, it turned around. Once we got started in the field, we had only one rain delay.”

Wurmnest added, “Most of our corn is emerging, and I am spraying soybeans this afternoon. They are just starting to poke through and emerge.”

Though a few of his Woodford County colleagues were only beginning their soybean planting, his local fertilizer dealer told him all deliveries of crop nutrients are on schedule to area farmers.

“The fertilizer dealers will be jumping into their hi-boys and starting their work here in another week or so,” Wurmnest said, before echoing Kirchhofer’s wish for more timely rainfall. “We are very dry now for this time of year. I looked at a tile today and it was running a small stream, but we could really use some rain about now.”

Warmer weather allowed for “significant gains in the planting process” with 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 6, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report for May 7. Statewide, the average temperature was 66.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 8.7 above normal; precipitation averaged 0.88 inch, 0.3 inch below normal.

Topsoil moisture supply was rated 76 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture was rated 76 percent adequate and 7 percent excess, according to the report.

The beautiful – albeit largely dry – weather conditions allowed statewide corn planting to climb to 74 percent, compared to 32 percent the week prior, 65 percent in 2017 and the five-year average of 56 percent. There was 4 percent emergence.

Soybeans planted soared to 29 percent, which more than doubled last year’s 14 percent at this time and the five-year average of 12 percent.