Just as drought conditions were worsening and corn leaves were curling, a set of weekend storms dropped anywhere from a half-inch to 1.5 inches of rain in areas across the state, according to the CropWatchers 2.0 team.

“We were getting very dry at the end of last week,” said Moultrie County farmer Lucas Roney. “With the rain and cooldown, the (corn) leaves have unrolled and look good now.”

Roney reported all first and second rounds of planting complete in his area. Crops are emerged and looking good after the summer shower but weed issues are beginning to pop up.

“We had one field of soybeans where the pre-emergence herbicide didn't work in some saturated areas of the field, so we had waterhemp pop up in a few spots,” he shared. “We will probably have to spray some Liberty on that field but other than that we were able to get our herbicides down and activated in a timely manner on both corn and beans and haven't seen any weed pressure yet.”

As tight supplies impact many sectors of agriculture, the weed control sector is no exception. Availability of key products, including glyphosate (used with Roundup Ready technology) and glufosinate (Liberty), are in short supply in some areas due to a bevy of production and logistical issues.

Thankfully, Roney prepaid for his farm’s herbicide and fungicide needs and his supplier has had products available when needed.

Over the next two weeks, Roney anticipates corn to be close to tasseling so fungicide application is on the horizon.

Roney, a father of four, spent Father’s Day weekend at baseball games for his 10- and 12-year-old sons. “It was fun to watch them play a game they love."

In northern Illinois, where the U.S. Drought Monitor ranked many counties as severe to extreme drought conditions, 1.5 inches of rain fell from Sunday’s storm.

“It was truly needed,” said McHenry County farmer John Bartman, who called it a million-dollar rain. If there was decent moisture, crop emergence has been great, but he said the current dryness is affecting chemical efficacy.

In Bartman’s non-GMO soybeans, marestail has become an issue.

“Who would have guessed lumber and Roundup would become as rare as a successful Chicago Bears quarterback?” joked Bartman. His local FS is out of Roundup and Liberty leaving him to work with five different herbicide programs when he usually uses two.

With summer officially here, Bartman’s schedule is about to pick up as he looks at his sweet corn business. He’s waiting for it to pollinate and will soon be busy with his roadside stand.

CropWatchers 2.0: A million-dollar rain

Charlie Roegge shows the progression of corn development in Cass County. From boot-high May 25 to waist-high June 7 to taller than the 11-year-old June 21. 

Corn began curling quite a bit in Cass County, according to Charles “Charlie” Roegge’s report. Rain came just in time.

“I thought the rain gauge we had jinxed us but turns out we got 1 inch of rain two nights ago,” he reported on Monday. More rain is in the forecast for this week.

Despite being dry, Roegge would rate his crops an eight out of 10. “Beans look really healthy,” he noted.

The amount of crop rated good to excellent in Illinois was 64% for corn, 65% for soybeans and 87% for winter wheat at the beginning of the week. Some Illinois farmers also got a jump on winter wheat harvest with 12% completed as of June 21, according to USDA’s crop progress report.

Roegge anticipates his wheat field will be ready for harvest within a couple of weeks.

CropWatchers 2.0: A million-dollar rain

Wheat in White County. (Photo by Bryce Williams)

Weed management hasn’t been a problem for Roegge, who said he’s been lucky to get herbicides when they needed them. The second pass of spraying took care of weeds but while filming his report, he noticed Japanese beetles in his corn field.

In southern Illinois, Bryce Williams said his crops could really use a rain. Planters are also still out in the fields working to complete replant needs.

As far as emerged crop conditions, the White County farmer said so far things are looking good. He’s starting to see the typical waterhemp issues pop up but has no concerns of herbicide availability.

During the next two weeks, White will focus on finishing wheat harvest, getting double crops planted, begin mowing hay and try to keep up with spraying.

There is enough moisture in the subsoil for efficient respiration in Kankakee County, according to Greg St. Aubin. "Crop conditions look great," he said, despite the dry weather.

He received between .5 and 1.5 inches of rain over the weekend. But more will be needed to keep quality yields.

When it comes to weed management, the dry weather early on made some of St. Aubin's corn herbicide less efficient. "We have seen a few grass escaped and are keeping an eye on their progress."

Although herbicide shortages haven't been an issue for him, sprayer tires were in limited supply at the worst time. 

"We needed to get new tires for our sprayer and they could only find three. The arrival of the fourth is scheduled for October," he said. "Good for us that we concluded one of the old tires could get us by. Brendan is a good operator, but to keep one axle levitating through the field would have been ghostly."

St. Aubin celebrated Father's Day with his daughter, Mary, and her husband, Steve, at their new home. "It was a great time," he shared. 

Looking ahead, St. Aubin will be busy scouting fields (corn borer, root worm larvae and leaf diseases). He will also be taking some leaf tissue samples for nutrient analysis.