Rapid progress

A McLean County farmer makes quick work of a cornfield. As of Nov. 8, Illinois farmers harvested 95% of corn compared to the five-year average of 89%, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

Getting the last few precincts to report could still take a little longer, but more and more Illinois farmers are calling their 2020 harvest complete.

Aided by mild, dry weather, farmers had 95% of Illinois corn and 96% of soybeans in the bin Monday, both ahead of the five-year average, according to USDA’s most recent crop progress report.

One farmer who had a few remaining acres of standing crops Monday morning was Kevin Raber, a FarmWeek CropWatcher from Wabash County. He hoped to cross the finish line later in the day.

“I certainly hope so. I lack about 15 acres of corn, so hopefully another hour or two, we’ll call it a wrap for 2020,” he told the RFD Radio Network®.

The CropWatchers team submitted their final reports of the season, which appeared in this week’s issue of FarmWeek. These 27 farmers will be back next spring with updates from around the state.

Raber said his corn yields were good, not excellent. And his earlier soybeans outperformed the later varieties and his double-crop fields.

“But I’m not going to complain,” Raber continued. “These higher prices are wonderful. I think it’s great; put a little extra money in everybody’s pocket.”

Raber also seemed thankful for the ongoing dry weather in his area. The statewide average temperature last week came in more than 9 degrees above average with no measurable precipitation.

Besides hopes for being able to accomplish more fall fieldwork this year, he said his wheat crop is off to a good start.

“We went by the old-timers saying, ‘sow in the dust, your bins will bust,’” he said. “We sowed it in the dry. I don’t know how it came up, but it did. Wheat looks excellent right now. We’ve got a good stand.”

Statewide, 90% of wheat has emerged, and 70% of it is rated good to excellent. Last year at this time, just 43% of Illinois wheat was considered good to excellent.