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Area farmers, including Evan Hultine of Princeton, are gearing up for the upcoming planting season with spring maintenance of their equipment. “Maybe we’ll be able to get out a little sooner than we thought,” Hultine said last week.
PRINCETON — Coming out of a long winter, area farmers are hoping the temperatures continue to rise for an optimum corn/soybean planting season.
Ideally, grain producers are in full force beginning April 20-May 10 if weather conditions cooperate. To help ensure a farmer has a bountiful crop, the temperatures must be a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, and the soil needs to be dry. In other words, if you can roll the soil into a ball, it’s most likely too wet which could limit plant growth, according to Univeristy of Illinois Extension Commercial Agriculture educator Russ Higgins.
“We’d like to ideally get most of our corn in throughout mid-Illinois by the end of April or the first few days of May,” Higgins said. “We think we’re losing yield if we plant after May 10, however last year no corn was planted in the entire state of Illinois by May 1. The majority of corn went in the week of May 10. Farmers in Illinois can plant a lot of corn very quickly.”
He said Illinois corn growers proved that last year when a million acres of corn was planted in one day across the state for the first time.
“Even though temptation may be there to go ahead and plant before soil conditions may be right, wait until they’re right. If there’s mud, a lot of things could go wrong later in the season.”
Despite the fact that planting may occur a little later than hoped for this year, many grain producers could, for the most part, be unaffected by some major pests and diseases that typically would be a concern, including soybean rust, Japanese beetles, and western corn rootworm beetles. For the most part, these pests and diseases cannot survive in freezing temperatures such as those experienced this winter. The main reason they’d survive would be in the southern states, but even the deep south experienced record lows this year, according to Higgins.
Bureau County grain producer Evan Hultine is predicting the temperatures won’t warm up much before April 20, but is hopeful for warmer spring-like temperatures.
“Things probably aren’t going to warm up a whole lot when you want to get corn in,” explained Hultine who said working 10-18 hour days during spring planting is the norm.
“Don’t know if we’ll have that by April 20. I don’t think there’s any reason why anyone should be worried about not getting their crop in, but we’ll see how things shape up,” he added.
In the meantime, Higgins warns against Palmer amaranth, a species of pigweed that is spreading throughout the state that is difficult to control once over four inches in height. He says it has become a challenge to control and proposes producers take that into consideration.
“There’s going to be a rush to get in the field, but just make sure conditions are right,” emphasized Higgins. “You only get to plant your field the first time once so make sure things are right before you go in so you get a good stand. It’s pretty hard to replant fields and get a good yield.”
Most grain producers are hoping to be done planting both corn and soybeans by May 10.