THE WILL COUNTY soybean crop is ready or near ready for harvest, like these beans in a field on Kahler Road in Wilmington. The Farm Bureau reports more than 50 percent of the county crop has already been combined.THE WILL COUNTY soybean crop is ready or near ready for harvest, like these beans in a field on Kahler Road in Wilmington. The Farm Bureau reports more than 50 percent of the county crop has already been combined.
Following a week of perfect combining weather, the Will County Farm Bureau is reporting an emphasis on harvesting soybeans, while farmers are not in a rush to complete the corn harvest.
Farm Bureau manager Mark Schneidewind said the soybean crop has a roughly 12 percent moisture content in many fields.
"That's dry," he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday that statewide the soybean harvest is about 8 percent complete, with 90 percent of the crop turning yellow. Locally, weather conditions have pushed bean production ahead of corn production. A bit more than 50 percent of the crop has been harvested, and the fields are showing decent yields.
The area has already seen frost, however, Schneidewind hasn't heard of any frost related crop damage.
Statewide the corn harvest is about 54 percent complete, but locally, its in the 30 percent to 45 percent range. Typically, the harvest begins in the southern part of the state and works northward; this year is no different, and the harvest was fast on drought-hit corn in Illinois' southern counties.
Schneidewind said a lot of farmers harvested corn over the weekend, but most are letting Mother Nature do some of the drying.
Will County corn yields are ranging from nine to 10 bushels per acre to 175 to 180 bushels per acre. In most years the area average is 165 to 170 bushels per acre.
"Some of the crops are better than average, some fields just caught some rain," Schneidewind said.
Corn on the eastern side of the county is in better condition than the crops planted on the west side of the county, and conditions vary greatly within some fields. Combine monitors are registering anywhere from 25 bushels to 170 bushels per acre, in the same field, the Farm Bureau reported.
Corn on some rocky, hilly or sandy acreage in the western part of the county was tilled in because it was laying down, but Schneidewind said almost everybody has been able to harvest.
Still, it will definitely be a down year for corn production, he added. The smaller crop will translate to price increases, with the biggest expected in the price of meat. The price will drop first as farmers liquidate their stock to avoid paying higher feed prices. Then, the price will go up since the supply will be tight.
While the price of items like cereal will also be affected, Schneidewind expects the increase to be pennies.
The lighter corn harvest shouldn't have a big impact on the price of ethanol either, he said, as reserves are in place to make up the shortfall. However, a second year of drought would have a big impact.
Most Will County corn, some 80 percent to 85 percent of the crop, goes to the export market. Much of the remainder is feed. The Forest Preserve District of Will County opened 400 acres of its property to emergency haying last month, and 90 percent of the hay produced supplemented the feed supply in Will, Grundy and Kendall counties.
"That helped us out a lot," Schneidewind said. "We're happy about them opening that up."
Haying will now be included in the Forest Preserve's annual agricultural leases.
Winter wheat was good statewide this year. In the south where the USDA received several reports of producers disking corn under, farmers will likely take advantage of the added corn-based nitrogen in the soil and put in additional fields of winter wheat.