Crops, Weather and Low Prices

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2017 has provided this part of Illinois with another "interesting" growing season. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map from the USDA and NOAA, a portion of central Illinois stretching from southern Champaign County through parts of DeWitt, Piatt, Logan, Sangamon, Cass and Morgan to the Illinois River is in a "Moderate Drought". This has led to a story of two different growing conditions within the same county and across our region of Illinois.

This moderate drought area has received on average about half of its normal rainfall in the past three months, and the crops are showing drought stress and yield losses. While areas outside of this area have been dry, they have had about 80 percent or better of normal rainfall and are expecting near to slightly below normal yields. It will normal this fall to hear of stories of high crop yields and disappointing yields within the same county.

If you have crops suffering from drought stress, be on the alert for increased disease and insect damage. Out in these areas in soybeans, I am seeing increased stinkbug and bean leaf beetle feeding as well as some Cercospora leaf blight. In corn, I have noticed an increase in corn ear tip feeding leading to damaged kernels and ear molds. In addition, some corn varieties are suffering from stalk rots leading to weak stalks.

For crops in this moderate drought area, if you have not flown a drone over your field to assess the level of dying or dead crops compared to alive, green crops, you really should. This short drone flight or a single drone picture can show you how rapidly this crop is maturing. There is nothing worse in a "short" crop year than to harvest overly dry crops and lose additional yield due to moisture shrinkage.

On Tuesday, the USDA released its "World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates" report, which showed US corn production increased slightly from its August estimates plus higher worldwide production for other coarse grains. This all leads to a projected season-average midpoint price for corn at $3.20 per bushel. For soybeans, it is a similar story of increased production estimates and a projected season-average price of about $9.20 per bushel. It looks like another year of low commodity prices, so keep your marketing skills sharp to take advantage of any opportunities to price your crops at higher levels.

A lot of this information is available on the latest "Outstanding in the Field" podcast.