It is corrected now but has damaged been done?
Muggy, sticky weather could bring bountiful fall harvest for Rockford area farmers
By Adam Poulisse
Posted Aug. 23, 2016 at 4:26 PM
Updated Aug 24, 2016 at 2:28 PM
ROCKFORD — Heat and humidity can be rough on us, but this year's weather conditions are ideal for Brent Pollard's soybean and corn crops.
"The crops, especially the corn, really like that warm, moist weather," said Pollard, 35, who serves on the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau board of directors. "It's been a pretty good growing year for corn."
Pollard also grows soybeans, corn, wheat, alfalfa and, for the first and last time this year, barley on his Centerville Road farm in Rockford Township.
"I think this is one of the best-looking soybean crops I've ever had on this farm," he said.
Because the weather has been so cooperative, bumper crops are expected across the region, generating an abundance of goods come fall.
But if the crop yield is high, prices will go down.
"Based on the market and the growing conditions, we're probably going to grow more bushels of corn and soy this year and still have less revenue than last year," Pollard said. "The price is going to go down (because) we have so much of one crop."
Early ear count indicates above-average corn production, unless severe weather or other agricultural issues occur, according to Nikki Keltner, program coordinator at the University of Illinois Extension for Jo Daviess, Stephenson and Winnebago counties.
"We look to be in great shape," she said. "A lot can happen between now and harvest."
Pollard is up to his chest, literally, in soybeans; the stalks are about 5 feet high now, and they're covered with pods.
"The old wives' tale for soybeans is August rain makes soybeans great," Pollard said. "We're getting the rain now for the pods to stay on the plant."
Marshall Newhouse, a Capron farmer, Boone County Board candidate and member of the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau, said he expects this to be "one of the top five years for corn" in terms of production.
"We've had rain when we need it for completing the kernel fill," Newhouse said. "We've not had tremendous storms with high winds or hail to damage plants. If you drive around the country, crops are looking exceptionally healthy."
However, the season didn't begin so fruitfully. Inconsistent warm weather mixed with cold spurts left some farmers worried they were in for a repeat of last year, when the season started strong but the crops petered out from lack of moisture.
"It's been a little bit of a roller coaster," said Jeff Heinsohn, a farmer based in Kirkland who also owns land in Rockford and Harvard. "We were wet and cool in May, then dry in June; we were 4 inches below rainfall. On the 21st of July we had a big rain event and it swept the area with 1 to 2 inches of rain, which made a huge difference in this crop."
A bushel of corn in the state cost $3.58 in April, $3.68 in May and $3.82 in June, according to the University of Illinois. A bushel of soybeans cost $9.04 in April, $9.76 in May and $10.20 in June.
At this rate, we're looking at somewhere in the $3 range for corn, and $10 for a bushel of soybeans, Heinsohn said.
"It'll all depend on how it all finishes out," he said.
Ang Daniels and her family raise cattle and grow corn, soybeans and hay on 1,800 acres in Garden Prairie.
"The humidity, that's good for the corn," Daniels said. "We've had moisture at the right time."
"As long as we don't have strong winds," she added. "I'd hate to have a tremendous storm come through."
But a good harvest is "a plus and a minus," Daniels said, because bumper crops affect the commodity price.
"If you got an influx, then it's going to affect your prices because there's no shortage for it," she said. "There's enough to fit demand."
Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344; firstname.lastname@example.org; @adampoulisse
By the numbers: Commodities price per bushel over the years
June 2012: $13.90
June 2013: $15.10
June 2014: $14.40
June 2015: $9.58
June 2016: $10.20
June 2012: $6.37
June 2013: $6.97
June 2014: $4.49
June 2015: $3.58
June 2016: $3.82
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