Corn, soybean quality up, winter wheat yield off

Wheat was down in bushels per acre, but up overall due to increased planting

An Illinois farmer harvests wheat in Gallatin County near the Ohio River. (Wikimedia Commons)

An Illinois farmer harvests wheat in Gallatin County near the Ohio River. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Ted Cox

The quality of the Illinois corn and soybean crop improved slightly last week as farmers continue to play catch-up after a rainy spring planting season, but they saw lower yields in bushels per acre in the harvest of winter wheat.

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress report released Monday afternoon found the state’s corn and soybeans continuing their comeback after heavy rains and flooding wreaked havoc on Illinois farmers this spring.

As of the end of last week, 59 percent of the state corn crop was silking, up from 36 percent the week before. But that compared with the entire crop silking at this time last year, and was well below the 94 percent average at this time over the last five years.

The good news was that 5 percent of the corn crop improved in rated quality from good to excellent, and another 1 percent improved from fair to good, leaving 38 percent rated fair, 35 percent good, and 9 percent excellent, close to the national average of 10 percent.

Some 52 percent of state soybeans are blooming, up from 30 percent the week before, but likewise well behind the 91 percent at this time last year and the 83 percent average over the last five years.

Soybeans similarly inched up in quality, with 8 percent rated excellent, again close to the national average of 9 percent, and equal segments of 36 percent rated either good or fair.

The USDA released harvest figures on winter wheat last week, with mixed results. Productivity was reduced, as Illinois farmers averaged just 63 bushels an acre, down from 66 last year. It was the lowest productivity level since 61 bushels an acre in 2011, and well below the 74 and 76 bushels an acre harvested in 2016 and 2017.

But because Illinois farmers planted 640,000 acres of wheat and harvested 590,000, up 30,000 from last year, the overall crop increased slightly from 36.96 million bushels last year to 37.17 million this year. reported that the harvest was “nearly complete” at 94 percent. The online agricultural news outlet quoted Danny Rubin, a Fayette County farmer who’s also president of the Illinois Wheat Association, as saying the crop “was all mostly below average,” adding, “The quality was not great, but it was not a disaster. For the way the weather was, most turned out OK.”