Despite early flooding, Illinois crops rebounding nicely
Illinois fields that were under several feet of water in early summer have rebounded to the point that the fall harvest shouldn’t be off by much from the bin-busting crop of 2007.
The latest federal forecasts are for Illinois farmers to bring in a little more than 2 billion bushels of corn, down 11.1 percent from 2007, but nearly 376 million bushels of soybeans, up 7.2 percent from last year.
“There were a lot of areas where we had standing water and a lot of concern whether there wouldn’t be a crop. To the delight of producers, while it did delay them, they are going to be able to harvest from those areas,” Brad Schwab, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Illinois Field Office in Springfield, said Tuesday.
Late planting or replanting of flooded fields brings its own set of risks from an early cold snap, Schwab added.
“There’s some concern out there as far as the potential for an early frost and the effect that would have on yields,” said Schwab.
Sangamon County farmer Allen Entwistle said he isn’t convinced yet by the USDA forecast.
“We’re approximately 30 days behind, and you really don’t know what your yields are yet. I still think we’re probably off 10 to 15 percent,” said Entwistle.
His farm along a fork of the Sangamon River east of Springfield was among those hardest hit by the floods.
Entwistle replanted soybeans after inundated cornfields dried. But he, too, is concerned about an early, hard frost. Entwistle said he normally begins taking crops to market in mid-September, but expects that will be closer to Oct. 1 this year.
Too much rain, followed by too little, and now concern about the frost threat to late-planted corn and soybeans have contributed to a 2008 commodities market that a University of Illinois farm economist described as unusually “jumpy.”
“It’s a weather market that won’t go away. We’ve obviously had a lot of areas that have been very dry in August,” said Darrel Good. “The consensus is the crop is probably getting smaller, and if we get an early frost, it could get a lot smaller.”
Prices fell as low as $4.50 a bushel for corn and $11.50 for soybeans early this month before spiking last week on dry-weather fears. Earlier this year, corn topped $7 a bushel and soybeans hit nearly $17.
Good said a USDA update scheduled for release in mid-September will provide a better idea of harvest prospects. But he expects the turbulent year to continue for all commodities, including corn and soybeans.
“A week or so ago, the dollar was climbing and oil prices were down,” Good said. “Then that all reverted.”
Tim Landis can be reached at (217) 788-1536 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illinois’ 2008 crop forecast compared to 2007
Acres planted: 12.2 million; 13.2 million
Bushels per acre: 172; 175
Yield: 2.029 billion bushels; 2.283 billion bushels
Condition: 20 percent excellent; 53 percent good; 20 percent fair; 5 percent poor; and 2 percent very poor
Acres planted: 9.1 million; 8.2 million
Bushels per acre: 42; 43
Yield: 375.9 million; 350.4 million
Condition: 11 percent excellent; 53 percent good; 27 percent fair; 6 percent poor; and 3 percent very poor
Source: August crop report of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture