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Crop Report

Talon Becker 
IL Extension
tbecker2@illinois.edu

Talon Becker 
IL Extension
tbecker2@illinois.edu

TALON BECKER UPDATES

Region 5
09/09/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

The corn and soybean crop in northeast Champaign County is continuing to progress towards maturity. Average temperatures have started to decline, but many fields of corn and soybean are either at, or more commonly, approaching physiological maturity. Some later season soybeans are still very green across their canopy, but those fields are generally at or very near R6 (full seed). Approximately 10% of soybean fields I saw in my tour through that portion of the county were in the later stages of R7 (beginning maturity), while most were at R6 (full seed) and early R7. A similar proportion, although probably a bit lower than 10%, of corn fields appeared to be at R6 (physiological maturity/black layer) based on field checks and a windshield survey.

 
Region 5
09/01/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

Both corn and soy crops in western Champaign County are getting closer to maturity, as leaf senescence has started in several fields in that area. Corn fields I surveyed were all at mid to late R5 (dent) stages. Yields look to be somewhat variable, with a few fields having some consistently large ears and minimal tipback, while others were more affected by the droughty conditions of the season and/or weed pressure issues and will probably result in yields slightly below an expected trendline average for the county. Several soybean fields are also starting to show leaf senescence, with most at R6 (full seed) and some fields with a few plants edging into R7 (beginning maturity).

 
Region 5
08/25/2023, Vermilion
Talon Becker

This week, I visited fields in southwestern Vermilion County. Disease levels in both corn and soybean fields was minimal; I observed only a few isolated areas in soybean fields with foliar disease symptoms. Soybeans are mostly at R6 (full pod), but a few fields were still lagging behind closer to R5. Corn fields I visited were in early to mid-R5 (dent). Ear fill was good in most fields I check, but I did find a couple fields that are struggling, with varying degrees of tipback as well as kernels aborted later in seed fill.

 
Region 5
08/18/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

I visited fields in western Champaign County this week. Soil conditions are starting to dry in the top inch or so, but there is still plenty of moisture below the surface. Disease in both corn and soybean fields appears to still be minimal. That said, I did come across a couple small pockets in two soybean fields with symptoms consistent with sudden death syndrome. Soybeans are between R5 (beginning pod) and R6 (full pod), with new growth still occurring. Corn fields I visited were in late R4 (dough) into R5 (dent). Representative ears from different fields showed variable ear sizes and degrees of tipback.

 
Region 5
08/11/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

Soils in southwestern Champaign County are now well saturated following several rainy days since last weekend. The Midwestern Regional Climate Center estimates 2.5″ to 4″ across the county, although the true range may be slightly larger. A few corn fields in the area are still showing a good amount of goose necking from high winds earlier in the season and may present harvest challenges if not harvested before stalks loose too much of their integrity. Several corn fields also showed a fairly high level of ear to ear size variability within small areas of the field. Corn in the fields I visited were at early R4 (dough) to early R5 (dent). Soybean fields are well into R5 (beginning seed) with some fields closer to R6 (full seed). There is also some new pods starting to form following the return of soil moisture.

 
Region 5
08/03/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

With little rain over the past week, perhaps a few tenths over the weekend, soil conditions in most of Champaign County are on the dry side. However, most fields of both corn and soy look relatively healthy with minimal external signs of drought stress. Measurements from the local Illinois Soil and Water Survey monitoring station show plant-available soil moisture at depths of 8+ inches, and it seems that most crops in the area have been able to reach some of that deeper soil moisture. That said, signs of drought stress including stunted plants and dying lower canopy leaves can be found in compacted areas of fields as well as the few hilltops we have in the county. Tip dieback and ear size was variable in the corn fields I surveyed, and most were in the late R3 (milk) growth stage moving into early R4 (dough). Soybeans were generally around R5 (beginning seed).

 
Region 5
07/21/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

This week, I visited fields in central Champaign County. With much of the recently forecasted rain missing the area, soils are starting to dry up again. Digging down in a few field, there is still some moisture present a few inches below the surface, but that too is starting to dry. Plants do not looked stress at this point in time, but that could change quickly with a warm week ahead of us an minimal chances for rain in the current forecast. The vast majority of corn fields I visited had finished pollination, and were generally at blister (R2) or milk (R3) stages. Soybeans were generally at beginning pod (R3) to full pod (R4). Weed control was variable, with most pressure coming from waterhemp, and a few morning glories here and there. From the road, many soybean fields still look rather clean, but waterhemp pushing through the canopy is also starting to become a more common sight in the area.

 
Region 5
07/13/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

For this week’s report, I visited fields in northeast Champaign County. Overall, crops look to be recovering well from the early drought stress. Soil moisture was close to optimal in the fields I visited. And with some moderate rain in the forecast, soil moisture is likely to remain adequate through the next couple of weeks. The majority of corn fields are in full pollination, while there were a few I spotted that are just starting to show tassels and a few others that were nearing the end of pollen shed. Soybeans have closed their canopy on most fields and are at R2-R3. I came across one small wheat field that was harvested, but there were no signs yet of an attempt at planting a double-crop soybean in that field. Weed pressure, largely waterhemp, was present in all the corn fields I visited, but was generally low to moderate. Soybean fields showed a variety of conditions; most appeared relatively clean while there were a few that had some serious issues with waterhemp and volunteer corn.

 
Region 5
07/07/2023, Douglas
Talon Becker

This week, I took a drive into Douglas County to check out crop conditions. As is the story around much of the area, there are a lot of uneven corn fields as well as stunted soybeans still some ways from closing their canopy. In the fields I visited, soil moisture was variable. Some were relatively dry in the top inch or two, while others appeared to be at or near field capacity. Soybeans ranged from very early R1 to early R3. Most corn was tasseling or within a leaf or two of doing so. Some was in full flower with silks several inches long. Fields in full flower right now appeared to have more even growth across the field, while those that may have been planted a bit later or experienced drought stress a bit earlier ranged from V10-11 to R1 on plants within several yards of each other. Weed pressure, notable waterhemp, was also moderate to significant in areas of corn fields where corn plants were shorter.

 
Region 5
06/29/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

The area received some much-needed rain. The ISWS weather stations in Bondville and Champaign recorded 1.12″ and 0.85″, respectively. On my drive back from a field day in Christian County (after riding out the storm in Pana) the storm damage appeared to be isolated largely to toppled trees and fallen limbs. While there was generally an eastward lean to most of the corn fields, I did not see any greensnap or large areas of flattened corn, at least on the field margins. The images below, taken between Villa Grove and Philo in Champaign County, are from a corn field with the most severe wind damage I found. Some of the corn is on the ground, but most plants looked to still be well-rooted and will likely stand back up over the next several days, albeit a bit “goose-necked”. Soybean fields looked unharmed and and still generally in the R2 phase. But they will likely put on quite a bit of growth and start setting some pods in the next couple weeks with more adequate moisture now available.

 
Region 5
06/23/2023, Vermillion
Talon Becker

This afternoon, I took a drive through western Vermillion County. Like much of the state, still, conditions are very dry. There was large variability in growth stage between fields. Corn generally fell in the V6-V10 range, although some of the later planted fields are not quite there and appear to have significantly slowed growth. In general, the larger corn looked healthier with less water stress, indicating there is some plant available moisture at the deeper soil levels accessible to roots of these larger plants, but perhaps not by the corn closer to V6. Soybean fields also showed a good deal of variation in terms of overall growth (open trifoliates, nodes, branches, etc.), although most fields I stopped an walked into were showing at least some flowers, with several at R2. Although there was variation in the overall appearance of health in the soybean fields surveyed, there were flipped leaves and signs of water stress in all of them. I did come across one wheat field that looked to have good head size and minimal disease. Harvest for that field is likely just around the corner.

 
Region 6
05/31/2023, Franklin
Talon Becker

It was a warm, dry week in Franklin County, like much of the state. With this, soils in the better drained fields or parts of fields are getting dry enough that crop growth appears to have slowed. However, with relatively good soil moisture levels in the county heading into this week, plant stress is still minimal, particularly in the lower lying areas. That may change as we head into next week with little rain in the forecast and temps still in the 90s on some days. The wheat in the area is still looking good overall, and much of it has started to senesce.

 
Region 6
05/26/2023, Franklin
Talon Becker

Unlike much of the rest of the state, soils in Franklin County are relatively moist. Some of the lowest lying and/or poorest drained fields are being planted this week and will likely wrap up by early next week. There are small low spots in some earlier planted fields that will likely need to be replanted, but those areas are relatively few. Corn that has emerged is generally somewhere in the V2 to V4 stage, and emerged soybeans are generally closer to V1-V2. As we move into next week, the hot and dry conditions may start to cause some crop stress on the tops of hills and/or in areas with a shallow clay or fragipan layer. But these dry conditions will also allow for timely weed control operations, as germinating waterhemp is now commonly visible and at the optimal stage for control. Wheat in the area is still looking good, and despite the dry weather in the forecast, will likely have sufficient moisture available for good seed fill.

 
Region 5
05/17/2023, Champaign
Talon Becker

Most fields in the area are planted and emerged. For the most part, the crop looks to be off to a good start in most fields, with the exception a few low spots where water is or was recently standing following the rains earlier this month. With minimal rain and some warmer temperatures in the near-term forecast, farmers in the area will likely finish up any planting and replanting they have to do in the next week or so.

 
Region 6
05/10/2023, Williamson
Talon Becker

In my trip through South Central IL this past week, most fields I saw are still on the wet side. Most wheat fields are headed out and at least entering the anthesis (flowering) period. The wet soils kept the ground equipment out of many fields, but I did see at least a couple planes applying fungicide treatments.

I didn’t see much in the way of newly planted fields, and that which was planted in the last couple weeks has, for the most part, not yet emerged. That said, there were a few fields with emerged spring-planted crop. With more rain coming through this weekend, field operations will likely be delayed a bit longer in that region. But with a dry and relatively warm forecast next week, many are expecting to get back in the field.

 
Region 6
05/04/2023, Franklin
Talon Becker

Wheat stands in south-central Illinois look good overall. There is some unevenness in plant heights visible across fields, which is fairly normal for the relatively flatter fields in that area, for this stage of wheat growth, and for this time of year. But the stands look good in general. Most fields I walked through or observed from the road are at or near boot stage with some in the early heading stages. Farmers are also making progress with spring planting, although very little has emerged due to the cool temperatures over the past few weeks. Also, with somewhat wetter conditions relative to much of the rest of the state, field operations have not taken place in many low-lying and/or poorly drained fields. With a rainy week ahead, some of those fields may remain unplanted for a bit longer.

 
Region 5
, Champaign
Talon Becker

Although some rain fell in much of the area this past Sunday, total rainfall was low (0.14” at the Illinois Climate Network (ICN) station in Champaign) and conditions remain dry in Champaign County. ICN soil moisture data show levels below the plant wilting point at 2” and 4” depths, however, at least where these instruments are in place, plant available moisture is still present at 8” and deeper. The lack of soil moisture at the shallower depths is evident when driving around the countryside. Corn plants in drier areas of fields are showing rolled leaves even in the morning hours. By the afternoon, the signs of moisture stress are more prevalent. Most corn plants are somewhere in the V5-V8 stages, and at that size, have at least some roots that are deep enough to reach the soil moisture still available. Soybeans may be struggling a bit more at this point, and their growth seems to have slowed in most fields. The plants still look relatively healthy, and the first flowers are starting to appear. But with little rain in the extended forecast, these early flowers are unlikely to contribute much to final pod counts.