LINCOLN — In 34 years as Illinois’ state climatologist, Jim Angel saw a lot.
“From the great flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in 1993 and 2013 to the crippling droughts of 1988 and 2012," he said. “But I never saw a growing season quite like this one.”
As of Sunday, more than 88 percent of the corn and 70 percent of soybeans in Illinois have been planted, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA report, released Monday, said that in the five past years, 100 percent of the corn crop and 95 percent of the soybean crop had been planted as of June 16.
About 74 percent of the current corn plants have emerged from the soil, compared to 99 percent during the previous five years. About 50 percent of the current soybean plants have emerged as of Sunday, compared to an average 88 percent.
“The reason for the delay is the seemingly unending rain and storms that have made this the wettest January to May in state history,” said Angel, a member of the Nature Conservancy science committee.
June has brought some relief — enough to get the majority of the crops planted — but more rain is expected through Sunday.
Yields will likely be lower in the fall harvest, but DeWitt County farmer Kelly Theron said any progress is forward progress.
“The wait to get into the fields was so long,” he said. “Being patient is hard when you know that every day not in the fields is another day that your yields are likely to drop.”
University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs estimates a reduction in corn-planted acreage by 3 million acres and a drop in corn yield by an estimated 10 bushels per acre, because some farmers who intended to plant more corn may have planted more soybeans instead.
“You can plant soybeans a little bit later into June and not see the kind of drop-off you are likely to get with the corn,” Theron added. “But what is good for one, may not be good for another. We haven’t seen a year like this before and I think everyone is just concerned with getting the crop in the field and looking ahead from there.”