Weather delays planting of crops

April 17, 2018 GMT

As winter weather continues, farmers are delayed in planting corn and soybeans.

“I don’t think there is any corn or soybeans in our county planted yet,” said Chad Miller, manager of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau.

Last year at this time, about 10 percent had been planted, he said.

Russ Higgins, a commercial agriculture educator with University of Illinois Extension, said his agency advises farmers to wait for the right conditions to plant.

“There were just a couple days last week where folks really started to do any fieldwork. We saw a little tillage, but that all came to a halt,” Higgins said.

In 2017, he said, a lot of the corn went into the ground around April 20.

Last week, the local soil temperature was 33 degrees, far lower than the minimum suggested temperatures for planting corn and soybeans, which are 50 and 54 degrees, respectively, Miller said.

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At this time last year, the soil temperature was 58 degrees, he said.

“If seeds are planted at lower than the minimum temperature, they will sit dormant and be more vulnerable to disease and insects,” Miller said. “There have been a few days where farmers could get out and apply fertilizer and that’s about the extent of the work in Kankakee County.”

Higgins said farmers don’t need to feel pressure to plant their crops right away. Other factors play a much bigger role in crop yields than do planting times, he said.

“If you plant when it’s too wet, you’ll likely have problems all year,” he said. “We encourage farmers to be patient. It is truly remarkable how quickly Illinois farmers can plant the crop now. You’ll see a million or more acres planted in Illinois in a week.”