Much-anticipated rainfall fell across much of central Illinois on Thursday, June 29, accompanied by high winds and hail in some places. More rain is forecast in coming days, and we hope this means an end to the drought of 2023. It would be better if the rain came more slowly without hail, but we won’t complain. Two inches or so of rain over the next two weeks should be enough to get corn through pollination in most fields, and to get soybean growth and yield potential back on track.
The fact that corn has stayed relatively short and plants are not as brittle as they would have been with more soil moisture should help the crop withstand windstorms. Short corn can have high yield potential, as long as canopy cover is complete by pollination, and leaves remain healthy. Lower leaves that have lost color may not come back, but nutrient uptake and color of larger leaves should get back to normal. We can expect soybean leaf area to develop rapidly, and having the plants shorter than normal with less internal shading may help pod development and retention as plants continue to flower over the coming weeks.
Rainfall should bring a quick reversal of the recent decline in crop condition ratings of both corn and soybean. Answering the question about whether yield potential has been irreversibly lowered by stress will get easier over the next few weeks as plants resume growth and canopy development. We do expect yield potential to recover well, if perhaps not fully in those fields most affected by drought up to now. That will be helped along by normal rainfall, temperatures, and sunlight in July.