The crops are coming down the homestretch toward harvest with 65% of corn in the dent stage and 95% of soybeans setting pods, both 1 point ahead of the average pace in Illinois as of Aug. 30.

But, the crops aren’t totally made yet and farmers should continue to scout for late-season issues and to make harvest plans, according to Randy Niver, Asgrow/DEKALB technical agronomist in east central Illinois.

“Something worth looking at is fall armyworms coming in,” Niver told FarmWeek at the Farm Progress Show. “We’ve had flights coming up, mainly in pastures and alfalfa fields. So, any field that borders a hay field or pasture is worth looking at, along with double crop soybeans or late-planted beans.”

The economic threshold generally is around 20% crop defoliation before farmers should consider the use of insecticides to control armyworms, a migratory pest that flies in from the south each season.

Another growing problem in many cornfields, particularly in the northern half of Illinois, is tar spot. The window to apply fungicide to control it, though, generally passed in previous weeks.

However, farmers should still monitor disease outbreaks and crop stands to make harvest priorities.

“There is some tar spot I’ve seen in just about every field,” Niver said. “In most cases it’s not going to affect yield, but some it will. There’s some heavier pockets.

“Prioritize harvest where there’s pressure from tar spot,” he noted. “It’s going to dry down very fast. And, you can get secondary pests come in to feed on the dying (plant) material, which could cause lodging concerns.”

Farmers should also make sure their combine and digital components are calibrated and ready to go for harvest.

“It’s a good time to start thinking about 2022 and making product selections,” Niver said. “Whatever digital platform you use for analytics, make sure it’s set up and ready to go so when the combine starts rolling, you can see what products performed well.”

As for corn and soybean hybrid availability, it should be adequate for 2022. Shannon Schultz, area business manager for Stone Seed, said seed yields look good, particularly in the eastern Corn Belt.

“The crop is good in Illinois, although wet spots could be losing yield potential,” he said. “You go out west and it’s dry.”

Seed companies minimize production risk by spreading seed acres over a wide geography and by using irrigation.

Topsoil in the state rated 70% adequate, 5% surplus and 25% short to very short as of Aug. 30, the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office reported.

Overall, the statewide average temperature in August was 75.6 degrees, 2 degrees above the 1991-2020 average, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.

The preliminary statewide precipitation totaled 3.76 inches last month, .2 of an inch above average. However, rainfall totals varied wildly from 11-plus inches in north central Illinois to less than an inch in parts of northwest and western Illinois.

Looking ahead, the three-month outlook for fall leans toward warmer than average conditions across the Midwest.

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