2015 Year in Review

As 2015 draws to a close, most producers are kind of glad to bid it farewell. It was a difficult year for many. There was simply too much rain for most soils to handle and the result was corn that yielded below average. There is always the exception, and some of those soils that drain well did in fact produce a great crop. The problem was there just wasn't a great percent of those good acres.

Corn yield was directly related to rainfall and the soils ability to handle the excess wetness. As one traveled north from Quincy, the amount of rain diminished, and the further north one traveled the better the yields. I'm going to guess that the average corn yield for Adams County will be in the 150 bushel area. But traveling north to the county line, that average would have increased by about 25 bushels. And at the north end of Hancock County, average yields were much above that.

Corn was planted this spring in a timely manner and stands were good. Very little concern from getting the crop planted and off to a good start. The problems came later. According to the Quincy Regional Airport, during the months of June and July we received 18" of rainfall, which is half the average yearly amount. And it seemed to rain almost every day. There were 21 days in May and 19 days in June that the airport recorded rainfall. That is unheard of unless you live in a rainforest.

Herbicides and nitrogen suffered as a result of the excess rains. Neither held up well under the circumstances. Root systems were severely affected. Very poor root development is the result in environments where oxygen is so limited. Both annual plants (corn, etc.) and perennial plants (alfalfa, forage grasses, etc.) were affected. In fact, quite a few alfalfa plants did not survive those conditions and stand losses were severe.

This past year will be remember for some time to come not only because of the record summer rainfall but because of the amount of weeds that we didn't get controlled very well. And a good number of these weeds are resistant weeds. We'll be dealing with them for some time to come.

Quality hay is in very short supply. Only a few producers have got any quality hay supplies. Those that did get a quality first cutting did so by electing to work on hay rather than plant soybeans. Or they elected to wrap their hay to reduce the amount of drying time.

Crop markets are at some of the lowest we've seen in 5 years. Land prices are softening somewhat, depending upon quality and location, but they are still historically high. Input costs have not been reduced in relationship to crop prices. So the end result is many producers are closely evaluating their expenses for 2016. Illinois Farm Business Farm Management, a recordkeeping system that has about 4000 subscribers, estimates that the net income for their producers in 2015 to be $20,000. Two years ago it was six times that. This area relies heavily upon agriculture to support our economy. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact the reduction in spending by the agricultural community the next several years will have.