HOW MUCH CORN IS PLANTED TODAY?

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Planting Progress report and let us know that farmers have completely caught up to their five-year average and gotten the crop planted in record time!

Nationally, we are 62% planted and our average for this week is 63%.  Specific to Illinois, we are 90% planted and our five-year average for this week is 70%.

That means farmers worked their tails off over the last two weeks of good weather.

When we think of emergence – how many of those corn seedlings have poked their heads up out of the soil – Illinois is sitting at 63% emerged.  This compared to 44% emerged this week in 2017 and a five-year average of 41% emerged for this time of year.

Overall, despite a slow start, I think farmers are off to the races with a bang!

EARLY PLANTING PROGRESS 2018

Spring has sprung in Illinois … finally.  We’ve had snow in April which isn’t super common around here.  It ruined the flowers and kept the farmers out of the field.  And if you think these Illinois corn farmers aren’t antsy to get in the planter, you’d be very very wrong.

Thing is, according to data released last week by the USDA, we aren’t really THAT far behind in Illinois or on a national level, even though it feels like things are moving slower than a January blizzard.

As of last week, Illinois hadn’t started planting at all yet, which is a little behind average, but not much.  And we can catch up quickly with a week of good weather.

Here’s what one of our farmer leaders had to say about his start this weekend:

Jim Reed, Monticello: Got started planting corn Saturday. Had a four hour delay trying to get John Deere monitor and Kinzie planter to speak the same language but after erasing the memory of the JD and rebooting it all was well. Soil temp at 1:00 pm was 50 at 4 inch depth.

So, at least in Central Illinois, soil temperatures are warming up enough to try to put a few seeds in the ground.  Stay tuned for more updates from the field as our #plant18 commences!

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF A FARMING SEASON

It’s the day after Christmas and we’re already thinking about the next farming season. Want to know what goes into a farming season in just a few short minutes? Check out virtual video series on farming!

#360Corn is a series of 360-degree videos featuring our own Illinois corn farmer, Justin Durdan.  Justin lets us plant corn with him, spray for pests, fertilize those little baby corn plants, and even harvest and sell his crop – all while we can look 360 degrees around the tractor cab, the farm and even the field.

Check out the entire experience here.

IS SNOW BAD FOR CROPS?

With the last few years of dry springs and summers, our crops are having a hard time getting the water they need. Just like us, they need water to prosper. Winter is coming (as they say in Game of Thrones) and with this comes usually heavy amounts of snowfall. In the Midwest last winter (fall of 2016 and spring 2017) we did not receive as much snow as years past. A lot of people wonder about dry fields does snow help the future crops or hurt them. 10 inches of snow only equals 1 inch of rain, it would take a lot of snow to make an impact. Just like driving to grandmas on Christmas to celebrate, snow can have some inconveniences too. (Insert photo of snowy field)

Snowfall can really dictate how things happen not only in agriculture but in life as well. Causing snow days and late days to work for parents is a huge impact. The snowfall can really help farmers during the spring. Even though snow can cause lots of issues for people getting to work and change of plans, it has helped farmers, especially during dry summers and fall.

Usually after harvest is complete most farmers till their fields to remove reused from other crops. Tilling is when farmers use a piece of equipment to dig into the land. When driving by fields you can tell if the field is tilled if the soil looks loose and more scattered across the top. (Insert photo of tilled field) This is a common thing to do once harvest is over to remove what is left from the crops before. The farmers who do not till their crops are at an advantage in this, the snowfall is better to be absorbed into the soil. This is important when thinking of crops such as winter wheat and how they need rainfall too. This is something that increases the water for the spring that will already be in the soil to help crops.

With snowfall comes tricky times for families. When living on a farm you have trouble with keeping animals warm and food out for them at all times. When you live in an urban area you have trouble with getting your car to work and making it to the store. We all face issues with snow big or small but they do impact agriculture. An industry that is very dependent on weather is easily disrupted by heavy amounts of snowfall and it can change the next season of crops.

Alison Heard
Southern Illinois University