A farmer near Grand Ridge works in a field near Grand Ridge last spring as planting season begins. Area farmers report most crops are planted.
A farmer near Grand Ridge works in a field near Grand Ridge last spring as planting season begins. Area farmers report most crops are planted.

Summer crop and rainfall report, which features weekly crop condition and rainfall updates from La Salle County farmers, is published regularly during the growing season. The following report covers May 11 through May 17 and is provided with assistance from the La Salle County Farm Bureau.

Dave Hall, Serena — As we start the crop watchers’ report this year, it seems like a repeat of last year in the short term. We received weekly rainfall of 3.7 inches, just as things were drying out enough to head back out to the fields. Conditions have been cold and wet, and corn plants have been shivering since germination in the cool soils as they wait for more than two days in a row of 70-plus degrees air temperatures. Most of the corn in the area was planted either the last week of April or the second week of May. April planted corn is now emerged from the ground and may have even survived a frost or two, as the plant’s growing point remains below ground until the plant has reached growth stage V4 (four visible leaves on the plant). The May planted corn is close to emergence but may need coaxed by the sharp tines of a rotary hoe implement if the ground hardens with a top crust before the plants can emerge in the coming days.

Some soybeans have been planted in the area, but there are many more bean fields unplanted than planted to date. Coronavirus has changed things in farming just as in all other walks of life. Commodity prices are currently below cost of production for most producers, especially livestock. Animals close to market weight are flooding the local processors as the large processors shut down here and there for COVID outbreaks within their workforces. At the same time, we see less meat on the shelves in grocery stores and food pantries. It makes me wonder a bit about trusting a large portion of our food supply chain to just a few large processors. Thanks to the local processors that are stepping up and working overtime to help fill the current gap in the supply chain.

This is my second year as a crop watcher. My Dad, brother and I raise corn and soybeans in Serena and Freedom townships. I also work as a civil engineer in Ottawa, and other free time is enjoyed with by beautiful wife and rambunctious 3- and 4-year-old boys.

Barry Beetz, Mendota — Hey everyone, my name is Barry Beetz and I am going to report to you about the crops and weather from the Mendota area. I farm with my extended family; we grow corn, soybeans and seed corn. We also have a grain elevator with chemical and fertilizer sales and application services. Each of us has our part we do, for example, I work on planting the corn and seed corn in the spring, then handle detasselling in the summer.  At harvest I run a seed corn picker, combine, or am running the elevator, whatever is needed. During the winter I work at the elevator and start planning for the next crop.  

It has certainly been a strange year for everyone. I hope you all are doing well and staying healthy. As for the crops, all the corn is planted and about half of the soybeans and seed corn is planted. We then ran into a stretch of rain this past week which dropped 3.5 inches in a few days. It brings back nightmares of spring 2019, but we are only in mid-May and should get the weather to finish planting. Thanks for reading, and I will keep you posted. Stay safe.

David Myer, Marseilles — I welcome back our readers of the reports on crop conditions and progress from Rutland Township where I live, and my farm operation is based from. 
2020 has started out to be quite the year and now excessive rain just like last year. I recorded 3.1 inches of rain this past week through Tuesday morning. Ponding is becoming the norm.

Corn planting is at various stages as some got planted over three weeks ago and finally emerged, and many acres last week but still more to go and replant. Soybean planting is limited though I tried early planting this year in April, so we will wait and see how that works out. Wheat acres are very few and lagging in crop stage with cooler temps and some never survived the excessive fall moisture. Hay fields look good but also lagging behind a couple of weeks. As most probably know due to COVID-19 grain and livestock prices have suffered greatly though bean demand is still there not like the corn ethanol demand, which almost dried up but is picking up. Even us as farmers are limited to socializing even with suppliers, thank goodness for electronic communication or not at times. Please stay safe and healthy as we hope to see many of our friends and families again this summer.

Bill Gray, Tonica/Lostant — Hi, our farm operation is located in the southwest part of La Salle County near Tonica. I raise corn and soybeans with help from my wife Tina and my sons. Last week I received 2.4 inches of rain. A lot of the corn in my area has been planted and several farmers have finished up. Some early planted corn was damaged by frost and should recover. After last week’s rain some areas have standing water and may need to be replanted if they dry out in time. Some soybeans were also planted early and had already emerged when we received the last frost. Areas of those fields and in some cases the whole field will need to be replanted. There are several soybean fields yet to be planted. Up until the middle of last week when the rain started, there was planting being done and some fields were being sprayed with herbicide. So far, we’re off to a much better start than last year and hopefully we will be able to finish in a timely fashion. Have a good week & be safe!

Ken Bernard, Grand Ridge — Welcome to another year of crop watchers!

As you may already know I farm with my brother and dad in the Grand Ridge area. This year we got some more help with my son moving home and taking over the small Purebred Hereford cow/calf operation.

He also has been a big help planting crops this spring. We grow corn, soybeans, wheat and have some hay for the cattle. As you know this spring started a lot earlier than last year and more normal, but in the last two weeks has turned to becoming very wet like last year. Not to mention everything else going on in our world today! We have all the soybeans planted and 80% of the corn planted. The beans have emerged and so has the first planted corn. The wheat is a little thin in spots, but we decided to keep it to harvest. Next project is cutting first crop of hay, with this wet ground and weather is a challenge again.

This last week we received 2.5 inches of rain. More than what we needed to get corn and beans emerged. Now there is a lot of standing water and those spots will need to be replanted.

Good to be back again this year and please be safe and stay healthy!

Geoffrey Janssen, Rutland — Hello everyone another crop report for the 2020 season from the southern tip of La Salle County. I am Geoffrey Janssen and I live just outside of Rutland in Groveland Township in the very southern end of La Salle County. I am a grain farmer raising corn and soybeans. The spring is shaping up to be a rather eventful one again. Every year is a little different. So far this spring we have had snow, frost, some hail and now we're having some heavy rain. I do have to report 5.5 inches of rain during the past week. The earliest planted corn is up and looking pretty good. This last rain event did lead to some ponding so there will probably be some replanting. Soybeans are going in, still a varying amount of acreage to be planted yet, certain areas are definitely ahead of others. Hopefully we start to see some more warmer and drier weather in the near future. 

Rainfall (in inches)

Dave Hall 3.7

Barry Beetz 3.5

David Myer 3.1

Bill Gray 2.4

Ken Bernard 2.5

Geoffrey Janssen 5.5

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