Most farmers in the Sauk Valley should be able to start harvesting their corn and soybean crops in the next 2 weeks.
As of Sept. 22, only 5 percent of corn in northwestern Illinois and 1 percent of soybeans had been harvested, according to the weekly crop conditions report issued by the Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service.
But that percentage should shoot up soon because many farmers are just waiting until their corn’s moisture level reaches the low 20s, said Emerson Nafzinger, a professor in the University of Illinois’ department of crop sciences.
“I’ve talked to a few farmers, and they might be in the mid-20s,” he said. “And they want to wait until the corn is in the low 20s.”
He added that many of those farmers were south of the Sauk Valley area. But Gunnar Ortgiesen, the chief financial officer and general manager at Tettens Grain in Sterling, said much of this area has reached the low 20s.
“We’ve had a lot of new crops rolling in the last 2 weeks,” Ortgiesen said. “People are seeing good yield.”
The soybean yield could be picking up as well. The same crop report, released Monday, said 54 percent of soybeans in northwest Illinois have dropped their leaves.
“Once soybeans drop their leaves, they’re ready,” Nafzinger said. “When the pods are real dry, they’re ready. Corn is more of a judgment call.”
Tettens Grain received its first soybean loads Monday, which was a bit of a surprise, Ortgiesen said.
Don Temple farms 500 acres of field corn and 150 acres of soybeans in western Whiteside County. He likes to wait until his corn reaches 22 percent moisture to harvest. Then he drys it to 15 percent so it can be stored.
Last year, Temple’s corn crop was at 80 percent of his average. This year, he expects it to be an average crop, but is holding out hope for above average.
The abnormally dry weather in the area took what could have been a “really good” corn crop and made it an average crop, he said.
Temple is harvesting soybeans right now, and although he said he doesn’t have his yield monitor calibrated for soybeans, he thinks the crop is looking good.
“It’s going to be between 50 and 60 bushels an acre,” he said. “Actually, last year we were right at that 60 bushels an acre. I thought we might beat it this year, but that dry weather right at the end of August might have nipped a little yield.”