Corn fields near Royal, Illinois. Author: Daniel Schwen. Licensing: GFDL. Original cropped.

In August, my office phone lights up with calls from farmland owners wanting to know about the direction of cash rent values for farms here in east-central Illinois. This is never easy to answer because no one can accurately forecast the future. Currently, we are looking for average to above yields for the area’s corn and soybean crops. The price outlook for this fall's corn and soybean crops is better than was anticipated earlier in the year due to weather problems in other parts of the world as well as the United States.

Corn Harvester in field

The fall of the year is not only a time of harvest, but also of lease signing. For the past four years, rents in Illinois have been relatively stable with highly productive farmland average rental rates being in the $270 - $290 range. This trend looks to continue for 2021, since there has been an improvement in crop prices in the past six weeks.