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Peru-based farmer Steve Michelini grabs a bag of seed corn to fill his tractor Monday morning out near Spring Creek Golf Course in Spring Valley. Michelini said rain had delayed planting efforts but hopes to have his fields planted by the end of the week.
Illinois Valley farmers continue efforts to get fields planted after a rainy spring delayed the season. A week ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that just 12 percent of the nation’s cornfields were planted. That’s about a quarter of what was planted by that date over the previous five years, and it marks the slowest start in decades in some states. However, on Monday, that number had doubled. This week, Illinois farmers only had 17 percent of the corn sown. These past few weeks as the weather calmed and warmed, farmers worked hard to catch up with their planting. Farmer Steve Michelini, who farms in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, said rain had slowed his planting efforts. However, he has been able to get 75 percent of his seeds planted. “We have over a 1,000 acres of corn in,” Michelini said. “We will be done Wednesday with corn.” Michelini said he also has 600 acres or one-third of his soybean crop planted. He said he has numerous people planting in the fields that has helped, but he is used to wrapping up at this time of year — not rushing to finish. “Rain has set us back. It is definitely later,” Michelini said. “If the rains will miss us this weekend, then we will be in good shape.” Michelini said he also has to plants 400 acres of seed corn for Pioneer, 20 acres of pumpkins and 40 acres of sweet corn. He said the weather also could delay getting these crops into the ground. Ken Beck, a farmer in the Mendota and Troy Grove area, said his efforts are slower with only 30 percent of his fields planted. Beck said this is later than he is use to and did not have an estimated completion date. “Another week and I’ll be close,” he said. Beck said he enjoyed farming because each season was different. Last year they were waiting for rain while this year they are waiting for it to stop. Despite the slow start, USDA estimates that while the wet start is expected to reduce the amount each acre produces this year, farmers are planting so much corn that they are still likely to bring in a record amount. “We have to get the corn in this week or we’re going to start seeing yield loss,” Michelini said. However, Michelini said a hot summer with rain could make the crop growth catch up quicker and still produce the same amount. “I think we’re going to be fine,” Beck said about his planting. Beck added that there was little he could do once the seed was in the ground to control the final crop because of weather and heat. “Mother Nature will be in charge,” Beck said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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