February 01, 2023

Corn crop better than expected, soybeans not so much

WATERMAN, Ill. — Better than expected — and not so much.

As farmers complete the harvest of corn and soybeans in DeKalb County and throughout northern Illinois, the corn crop overall has met or exceeded expectations for yield.

Soybeans, on the other hand, haven’t quite lived up to farmers’ hopes.

“I don’t know if I would call it record just yet, but extremely good yield potential and yields so far on corn,” said Jim Donnelly, a DEKALB Asgrow technical agronomist.

Donnelly, who farms in Bureau County, but whose territory covers DeKalb County and northern Illinois, said farmers are pleased with what they’ve seen for yields on both crops, but corn is the standout this year.

“Farmers are really happy with corn and somewhat pleased with soybeans, not quite as excited on soybeans as they thought they would be,” he said.

While drought in areas in August and September may have held back soybean yields, the warm, dry weather did help farmers get a quick start to harvest and has helped harvest progress.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent Crop Progress and Condition report for Illinois, farmers in the state had harvested 78% of the state’s corn crop and 89% of the state’s soybean crop as of Oct. 30.

“Thankfully, we’ve had some fantastic weather to be able to make a lot of progress on harvest for both corn and soybeans, as well as tillage,” Donnelly said.

This year’s harvest started slightly later. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service numbers reflect that.

Farmers had harvested 81% of their corn crop by this time last year, while progress on soybeans last year was far behind this year, with only 74% of the state’s soybean crop harvested at the same time in 2021.

“We did get started a little bit later than normal. Some of that had to do with later planting dates. There was a lot of corn and soybeans that were planted in the middle part of May, which isn’t extremely late, but is getting toward the later part of the planting season,” Donnelly said.

Part of the soybean yield issues also were caused by issues early in the growing season. The corn crop, too, struggled early in the season as wet and cold weather held the progress of the crop back.

“The crop tended to mature pretty slowly. We did have some soybeans that were planted in the end of April and the first few days in May and a lot of it struggled to come up. We had some population issues, mostly in soybeans. What was planted early really did struggle to come through, so that led to some thin stands in some areas,” Donnelly said.

Other challenges for the crop included dry periods throughout the growing season.

“When we look at DeKalb County, we did have some dry areas in the middle part of the growing season. Some producers are still battling with corn rootworm and those situations, so they saw less yield because of the pest pressure,” Donnelly said.

As harvest wraps up, concerns about a drought now and a drought going forward into 2023 remain.

Donnelly said that while there is little farmers can do to prepare for a possible drought in the future, they can manage for dry conditions today.

“I don’t think we need to try to outguess Mother Nature because usually we get burned trying to do that. If we are sitting in dry soil conditions and putting fertilizer on now, we need to make sure that anhydrous ammonia is sealing properly or that we just have enough soil moisture to make sure it stays there. So, farmers can do that,” Donnelly said.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor