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Wheat yields expected to be down in Illinois

Posted by sonimanish Published on Wed, 2015-06-03 10:30

News article

Tue, 2015-06-02 (All day)
Illinois, US

Illinois wheat will yield an average of just more than 60 bushels per acre, according to an unofficial estimate gleaned from a tour of fields in southern Illinois.

Participants in the annual tour, organized by the Illinois Wheat Association, traveled across the region, stopping at wheat fields in a number of counties.

The observers — including farmers, millers, agronomists and others split into several groups — spread out across a number of counties in the state’s Wheat Belt. They made tiller counts and checked for signs of disease and other problems.

The groups came together at the end of day at the University of Illinois research center located near this Fayette County town. The estimate, averaged from tiller counts taken in dozens of wheat fields, was 60.5 bushels per acre.

Not surprisingly, the yield estimate was down from last year’s tour estimate of nearly 65 bushels. The actual 2014 yield, published by the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service, was better, averaging 67 bushels per acre.

Wet conditions last fall delayed harvest of corn and soybeans, pushing wheat planting later than normal at many farms and likely reduced planted acreage across the state.

“We’re not real excited about tiller counts,” said Dave DeVore of Siemer Milling in Teutopolis, whose group covered Effingham, Clay, Jasper, Richland and Fayette counties. “They are certainly down from last year.”

Mark Miller of Mennel Milling in Mount Olive saw similar results. His group sampled fields in Madison County, among others.

“Tiller counts weren’t great,” Miller said. “Stands were a little bit thin in places. We saw some evidence of fields being abandoned. There were areas in fields that were real good, and there were areas in fields that were thin due to standing water.”

Evidence of an acreage drop was found by one group led by Darrel Schaal, a grain merchandiser with Archer Daniels Midland. His group swept through Effingham, Clay, Fayette and Marion counties and walked fields on 11 farms.

“We stopped at every other field or every third field,” Schaal said. “We drove a lot and didn’t see many fields. The areas we drove, the acreage is down substantially from last year.”

Many tour participants saw little to get excited about. On the other hand, there was little to be alarmed about.

“It was a pretty average crop,” Schaal said. “There was nothing spectacular, but then again, nothing terrible. It was fairly average.”

Wheat-Heavy Counties

Teresa Buccheit of Opti-Crop led a group that toured the heaviest wheat counties in the state: Washington, St. Clair, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph and Perry. Things looked better there.

“Counts weren’t too terrible,” Buccheit said. “We certainly found some fields much better than we expected them to be. There was low disease occurrence. We did not have a problem finding wheat fields. We definitely had a lot more wheat fields down in that direction.”

There were few reports of major disease pressure, though some participants stressed that it still is early, especially for evidence of fusarium head blight, commonly called scab.

“One field had a head or two here and there that had some scab on it, but for the most part we didn’t see any scab at all,” Buccheit said. “I didn’t expect to though, because it’s too early.”

DeVore agreed.

“We saw some septoria, some barley yellow dwarf and some powdery mildew, but really nothing we felt would impact yields,” he said. “Of course, it’s too early to see any scab develop.”

University of Illinois plant breeder Fred Kolb pointed to test plots at the Brownstown center, noting the relative good condition of the plants. Ideally, his plots are planted the first week of October.

But wet conditions delayed planting in one field until Nov. 3. Part of that field was rained out and replanted on Nov. 7.

“Considering when they were planted, they look really, really good,” Kolb said. “Are they going yield 100 bushels? I doubt it. But this just shows the resiliency of wheat. You can kill it off several times and still get a good yield some years. Hopefully, this will be one of those years.”