Over the course of three days, Kelly Robertson received nearly two inches of rain from scattered showers that swept through the Benton area. It didn’t help.
The main problem has been the extremely high temperatures. Since June 28, Benton has logged seven days with record high temperatures over 100 degrees F.
“The rain kind of greened everything back up,” Robertson explains. “But for 80% of the corn, it’s too late.”
As a result, Robertson has stunted corn trying to pollinate in a severely stressed state. He’s not holding out much hope for yields.
“We’ll have several fields that don’t make anything,” he adds. “On some of the low spots, we might make 30 to 40 bushels. If I average more than 40 bushels an acres on the whole farm, I’ll be really surprised.”
As for soybeans, Robertson says the next week to week and a half will make or break them. Again, the temperature has been the biggest factor. Robertson recently took some temperature measurements on his double-crop soybeans, which still haven’t emerged past the top of the wheat straw. During the heat of the day, the straw measured 150 degrees F. The actual soil surface temperature was 98 degrees F. If this keeps up, soybeans will also be a wash, Robertson says.
Many in the southern part of the state have started to disc corn under in the hopes they’ll be able to plant soybeans. Robertson advises against this practice. First, without any rain and extreme temperatures, the chances for soybean emergence are low.
“The big thing is I think it’s a mistake for the sake of crop insurance,” Robertson adds.
Still, tearing out the corn crop seems to be common. Robertson says last year a lot of southern Illinois farmers planted soybeans on Aug. 1 and still made 30 bushels.
In terms of ranking, Robertson says this drought is by far the worse he’s ever seen. His 93-year-old grandfather, Roy Payne, agrees.