The percentage of corn planted is lower than normal in the state of Illinois, according to a crop progress report released this week by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The report listed the 18 states in the U.S. that had planted on average 92 percent of the corn crop acreage by this time in 2018. In Illinois, only 24 percent of the corn crop has been planted, compared to 95 percent at this time last year.

The crop report comes out weekly between the first of April and the end of November during the growing season, according to USDA State Statistician Mark Schleusener in Springfield.

Rural Dieterich Farmer John Becker says he's not sure if the 150 acres of wheat, 70 acres of corn and 34 acres of beans he has planted will make it. Becker said the only day that was dry enough to actually plant this season was Monday. Monday night brought a half inch of rain, followed by an inch and a half on Tuesday night.

“I had about a day and a half of actual work,” Beckman said. “We did a little tillage a half a day the first day and did some more tillage and planted on Monday.”

“That's all that's been available,” Beckman added. “If we would have waited another day, would wouldn't have had anything planted.”

Beckman said the abundant rain might have washed away any chances of any growth on what he had planted on Monday.

“With all of the rain, in reality we might not have anything planted,” Beckman said. “Some of the fields around this area may have to be replanted.”

Illinois is not the only state lagging behind in corn acreage planted. Out of the 18 states surveyed in the crop progress report, only 49 percent of the corn crop has been planted, compared to the 5-year (2014-2018) average of 80 percent. In Indiana, only 14 percent of the crops are planted, compared to 86 percent planted this time last year.

Beckman farms approximately 600 acres and with the possibility of being washed out by the recent rain, may not get any planted.

“A year ago we were done,” Beckman said. “There has only been a handful of times in the last 10 years we've been like this.”

According to a recent notice distributed by the USDA Farm Service Agency, received by the Effingham Daily News on May 15, reminding producers the final day to report prevented planting and failed acres is June 5 for corn and June 20 for soybeans.

“It's up to you whether or not you want to plant after June 6,” Beckman said. “But the insurance company gives you the option of not planting at all and just leaving the land fallow.”

“That's just not that far away,” Beckman said. “If we get one more rain next week that keeps us out another week, we're there.”

Beckman said as it gets closer to the date, decisions have to be made.

“We have to make a decision as to whether or not we want to accept what the insurance wants to pay us, we can go ahead and plant it or switch crops from corn to beans,” Beckman said.

“That's the reason the insurance company has the date,” Beckman said. “Your yields are going to drop so much they are going to paying regardless of whether you plant it or not.”

Beckman said if he goes ahead and plants the crops after the prevent plant date the insurance coverage revenue guarantee would be reduced a specified percentage each day he doesn't plant during the planting window.

“Once you get to that point, everyday could be a different decision,” Beckman said. “The late plant period for corn is June 6 through June 25. That is the window when you basically make a decision on whether or not you want to take the prevent plant and not plant it.”

“We've only taken prevent plant only one time in my farming career,” Beckman said. “Ideally, most won't take the prevent plant until it is at the tail end of the window.”

“Farmers are here to farm, we're not here just to take the insurance,” Beckman added. “If you take the insurance you take away any potential at all of making a profit.”

When Beckman did his tillage work, he removed some of the yellow flower weeds growing wild on the field he says is a result of too much rain last fall during harvest. He said in fall they would normally either apply a fall chemical or till the field to keep the weeds from growing in the spring, however at the end of last year's harvest it was too wet to treat or get into the field to till.

“That's why you see so many yellow fields this year,” Beckman said.

“You have to go over it more than once when it gets tall,” Beckman said about when he tills a field. “It's hard to get rid of it.”

“It wouldn't be like that if we would have been able to get in the field earlier this spring,” Beckman added. “It never would have happened.”

Beckman said when the taller yellow weeds take over the fields because they had to wait later in the growing season, it takes him longer to get the fields ready for planting. He said a field will dry faster on a field where the weeds are tilled.

“With the field opened up (tilled for weeds) it will take only about 4 or 5 days for it to dry out,” Beckman said. “A field that isn't open up (full of yellow weed plants) it will need about 7 days of dry weather.”

Man made ditches filled with water can been seen in his field to help drain the water from his water soaked field.

“We have to keep this ditch as low as possible to keep the water moving in the right direction,” Beckman said.

Pools of water can be seen in random low places all about his field.

Beckman hopes it won't rain in the next couple of days, however isn't holding his breath.

“A little wind would help too, it might help the field dry out a little faster,” Beckman said.

Beckman is vice-president of the Effingham County Farm Bureau board.

Matt Barnes with the National Weather Service in Lincoln said we can expect periodic rain through May 28, with projected rainfall totals ranging between 1.5 to 2 inches. Barnes said a local Effingham weather observer has recorded a total of 3.71 inches of rain so far in the month of May. Barnes said we should expect rain off and on in the area throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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