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Will, Grundy farmers get a head start on corn planting

Farmers in Will and Grundy counties are ahead of schedule with the planting of corn crops thanks to a stretch of dry, warm-weathered days in April.

It’s a stark contrast from past years, when farmers’ efforts to get corn and soybeans into the ground were thwarted by flooding and overnight plunges in temperature, said Mark Schneidewind, manager of the Will County Farm Bureau.

Depending on acreage and location in the county, some farmers already are done with corn planting, he said.

According to an April 25 U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report, corn planted statewide had jumped to 42 percent, up from 12 percent the week before.

Getting crops in the ground so early has its advantages, but long-range forecasts note the region may not get much rain in June or July, Schneidewind said.

And there’s always the concern of long stretches of 100-degree days this summer and untimely rains.

“Corn doesn’t do well with too many hot nights. Like you and I, a crop needs to have its resting time,” he said.

U.S. corn growers – including those in Illinois – expect to plant 93.6 million acres of corn this year, according a March 31 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Even though many farmers are done with corn planting, several are holding off on soybeans until later in May.

“We want to see what kind of rain we get. We’re expecting moderate rains through May,” Schneidewind said. “Soybeans are not as tough as corn. If you get a frost, or a hard, pounding rain, the soybeans would break their necks, so to speak.”

Grundy farmers ahead of schedule

In Grundy County, corn planting also is ahead of yearly planting timelines. Grundy County Farm Bureau Manager Tasha Bunting estimated Friday that 90 percent of corn fields in the county were already planted, and she expects that number to reach 100 percent by Mother’s Day weekend.

“We’re definitely on target,” Bunting said. “It’s actually ahead of the traditional average and ahead of where we were last year.”

The remaining 10 percent likely hasn’t been planted yet because farmers are waiting for the right conditions in more sensitive fields, Bunting said.

“Farmers haven’t finished every field, but they all have something planted,” Bunting said.

It’s still too early to plant soybeans in Grundy, she said, but that could change soon if soil temperatures warm up.

“If it gets warmer, we’ll probably see some soybeans in the ground by the end of next week,” she said.

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