Results are spotty from one field to the next, but some farmers are surprised with how well their corn yields are faring following a growing season that was less than ideal with drought-like conditions.
Paul Hunsinger, who farms near Mahomet, and Doug Bialeschki, who farms near Tolono, said they are pleased with how well their corn crops are yielding. They aren’t bin-busting but are better than they feared earlier in the year.
“So far so good,” Hunsinger said after taking a load to a nearby elevator Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve got corn still standing really good. Yields are about average. We’ve been very happy with what we’ve had so far.
“We haven’t seen any mold or anything. The corn’s really in good shape so far.”
He said his corn is yielding in the 220- to 250-bushels-an-acre range.
Hunsinger said the results have surprised him “with the dry spell we had this summer. Heat and drought.”
Harvest for Hunsinger started Friday, and he expects it will take about two weeks to finish if the weather cooperates.
Hunsinger, who said he primarily plants full-season soybeans, hadn’t combined any yet. They will be ready in about two weeks.
Bialeschki said corn yields in his fields have done better than he thought they would.
“I thought it was going to be hurt quite a bit by the dry weather,” he said. “We got a little more rain down here by Tolono.”
What they also got were some strong winds that blew over some cornfields, but Bialeschki said the plants rebounded, and while they didn’t return to full standing, they are up high enough to pick.
“It slows us down a little bit, but so far we’ve got to be pretty thankful for what we’ve got,” Bialeschki said.
He credited modern hybrids for the good yields despite the drought.
Fifty years ago when he started farming, the corn crop wouldn’t have done nearly as well if it had the same conditions as 2023, he said.
The moisture levels in corn have dropped significantly in the last week, clearing the way for picking.
“I kind of hate to see it rain,” Bialeschki said looking at the Tuesday evening forecast.
He said he hasn’t combined any soybeans yet.
Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Bailey Conrady estimated 75 percent of the farmers were out in the field Tuesday.
She said that while some farmers are satisfied with their corn yields, it varies widely even in one field.
“I think variability is going to be the definition of this year,” Conrady said. “Soil type and rolls and rises in fields” affect the crop.
She estimated the high corn yields this year will be about average for a normal year. There have not been any “shockingly low” numbers on corn, but she has heard of some soybean yields in the 20- to 30-bushel-an-acre range, which is low.
“It’s real spotty in areas of the county based on when you got rain,” Conrady said. “Some folks got rain around pollination, around the Fourth of July, that really helped, and some missed out.”
Illinois state climatologist Trent Ford said East Central Illinois hasn’t fared too badly from early July on in terms of rainfall.
Precipitation was fairly constant through mid- to late-August, which helped the crops just enough.
“We got rain in that critical mid-July to mid-August phase, which I think boosted the crop average,” Ford said.
Prior to the early July rainfall, he said there was some question as to whether there would be a crop at all this year.
He said projections for the next few months are for warmer and drier weather than normal.