Farmers headed to the fields the first full week of September, but for different reasons depending on the location.

In southern Illinois, Eric Shields, FarmWeek CropWatcher from Jackson County, got the combine out and opened up some cornfields. Hand-shelled tests estimated moisture of the grain in his area between 21-23%.

“We’re going to try to pick some corn. How much is ready, I don’t know,” Shields told the RFD Radio Network just after Labor Day. “We’re going to dive in and see what it actually is.”

Up north, some farmers had to scout crops again after another round of severe storms pounded numerous areas around the northern half of the state Sept. 7. Doug Stockley, LaSalle County Farm Bureau board member from Harding, said initial reports estimated 2-inch hail on his farm near Baker.

“I could still see hail several hours later by the garage,” Stockley said just moments after calling in an insurance claim Sept. 8. “It knocked the top leaves off the soybeans and I saw pods with soybeans in them on the ground.

“It took the paint off outbuildings, dinged up the siding and broke windows out of the house and garage,” he noted.

Stockley reported the hail stripped leaves off corn and possibly knocked up to 50% off soybean yield potential in fields affected by the storm.

“It’s not a complete loss, but it definitely took the top end off yields,” he said. “It stripped more leaves off corn so now you can see right through to where it had previous wind damage (from a severe storm in August).”

The severe weather outbreak Sept. 7 produced wind reports up to 70 mph in some areas, including Gibson City, which suffered property damage from the winds just weeks after experiencing a major flash flood.

Shields, who farms both river bottoms and hill ground, looks for highly variable yields this year due to weather variations, with the river bottoms possibly outyielding the higher ground.

“Last year was the best (corn) crop I’ve ever had,” said Shields, who has farmed for 22 years. “This year’s crop is not close to that one, but it’s not anywhere near the worst.

“I’ve got high hopes for soybeans,” he added. “I hope they’ll be above average.”

Corn across the state was 83% dented and 30% mature as of Sept. 7, both 7 points ahead of the average pace. Nearly a quarter of soybeans (22%) were turning color as of that date, 3 points behind the average pace, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office.