Crops could use more rain, heat

Crops could use more rain, heat

A roundup of agricultural news:

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois corn and soybean crops could stand more rain and heat, the state office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported this week.

Last week was cooler and drier than normal, and those factors are starting to hurt crops.

"The dry conditions and cool temperatures are affecting grain development and delaying crop maturity progress," a release from the office said.

Crops in the state's eastern region — which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee — are generally further along than crops in other parts of the state.

As of Sunday, 100 percent of soybeans in the eastern region were setting pods, compared with 76 percent statewide. Twenty-four percent of the corn in the eastern region had reached the dent stage, compared with only 14 percent statewide.

Even so, soil moisture levels in the eastern region were dropping. Only 39 percent of the region's topsoil had adequate moisture; 40 percent was short and 21 percent was very short.

Forty-seven percent of the region's subsoil had adequate moisture, while 37 percent was short and 16 percent was very short.

Of nine regions around the state, the eastern region had the greatest percentage of topsoil and subsoil deemed very short on moisture.

The Illinois State Water Survey reported Monday that soil moisture levels in central Illinois were the lowest in the state, averaging 0.14 water fraction by volume — or just at the wilting point for most soils measured.

Statewide, only 10 percent of the corn and soybean crops was rated either poor or very poor.

Eighteen percent of the corn crop was considered excellent, while 46 percent was good and 26 percent fair. Thirteen percent of the soybean crop was rated excellent, while 52 percent was good and 25 percent fair.

UI professor weighs in on status of crops

URBANA — Corn and soybean crops are developing later than normal, raising questions about when they'll reach maturity, UI crop sciences Professor Emerson Nafziger said.

Though conditions remain good for both crops, crop development — including pod formation in soybeans and grain fill in corn — remains well behind normal, he said in a UI press release.

"Corn is 10 days to two weeks behind normal, and soybeans are two to three weeks behind normal," Nafziger said. "The number of days behind will 'stretch' as the weather cools, so late crops get even later."

For soybeans, "if temperatures continue to be cooler than normal, we can expect the crop to reach maturity only by late September or early October," he said.

Cool temperatures this time of year are not favorable for soybeans, he added.

Below-normal daytime temperatures and clouds mean less photosynthesis, and cool nights can limit growth rates and photosynthetic rates the next day, Nafziger said.

That could result in below-normal pod numbers or pods that might not fill.

"Good soybean yields are still possible if the weather remains good into September, but seed-filling rates will remain slow as long as temperatures remain low," Nafziger said.

As for corn, crops planted in early May, mid-May or late May will likely reach maturity by early September, mid-September or mid-October, respectively, if the number of growing degree days in August and September is normal.

But "corn planted in mid-June is unlikely to mature before frost if temperatures are normal and frost comes at its normal time," he said.

College plans Salute to Agriculture

URBANA — The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is planning a "Salute to Agriculture" event Sept. 7, preceding the UI football game against Cincinnati.

The college is holding a public tailgate from 9 to 11 a.m. that day in the ACES tent west of the State Farm Center entry drive.

UI President Bob Easter is expected to be on hand, as is agribusiness broadcaster Orion Samuelson. An auction of state fair prize-winning meat packages will wrap up the program.

A breakfast of bacon, eggs and cheese sandwiches and L.A. Gourmet cinnamon rolls will be featured. Breakfast tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.

A limited number of individual game tickets can be purchased for $20, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Registration for breakfast and game tickets should be made online at https://ecommerce.aces.illinois.edu/salutetoagriculture/ by Sept. 5.

More information is available by calling 244-8227.

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