The drought of 2012 might seem to be over, but take a closer look. The sub-soil moisture is still drastically low in many areas. Also, the Mississippi River is illustrating what a lack of rain can do. The River is so low in the Mid-Mississippi area that barge traffic may be halted due to low water levels.

That won’t be the case if Illinois Corn Growers Association has anything to say about it. IL Corn is working with an industry group called Waterways Council, Inc., to find ways to keep the river moving. You see, more than 50% of Illinois’ corn crop leaves the state, with a good portion finding its ride down the river on barges. Also, fertilizer moves into the state via northbound river traffic, so in this case, a low-water issue can get us coming and going.

Earlier this week IL Corn representatives met with IL Senator Dick Durbin and other stakeholders to discuss the best ways to keep the Mississippi River open to commerce and other traffic. Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon attended the meeting, as well, and was kind enough to go on the record with us about her thoughts on the issue. Watch below for her statement.

Braid Terry_Tricia  mugshotTricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director


The good: Most of Illinois got some rain this weekend! Nearly 2 inches reported in some parts of the state.

The bad: That storm also produced some brutal 50mph winds, knocking down many acres of corn in the southern part of the state.

The ugly: Corn after the storm.

A few farmers are beginning to harvest their corn already. So far, there have been reports of yields ranging from 0-130 bushels per acre at best. ICMB board member Jim Raben has been hearing of yields between 0 and 40 bushels per acre in non-irrigated fields and higher yields of about 130 bushel in irrigated fields. On average, most southern Illinois counties are expecting a 50 bu/acre yield.

Yield isn’t the only number farmers are keeping an eye on. Early harvest brings with it the threat of high moisture ratings. Of those farmers beginning harvest early, the current range is 18-30% moisture. Grain elevators want to see corn coming in at less than 15% moisture, so this means more drying cost and/or premium reduction for these farmers.

If nothing else, this year has been a prime example of the volatile nature of being a crop farmer. No matter how much time, money, and work a farmer puts into their crop, the weather gets the final say in how productive a field will be. Last year, farmers were celebrating yields approaching 200 bushels per acre, and this year most are just hoping for their average to be 50 bushels per acre! Calling this a “tough year for corn farmers” seems to be an understatement throughout most of the Midwest.

Interested in seeing more drought pictures?  Check out our flickr page, here.

Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant ICGA/ICMB