Illinois’ farmers in final push to ‘muddy in’ corn ahead of deadline

5 Jun 2019 | Tim Worledge

Farmers in one of the biggest US corn and soybean growing states are facing a final, frantic push to plant corn as the Midwest’s last insurance planting date elapses, the state’s corn association has told Agricensus on Wednesday.

“Some farmers in Illinois were able to get additional corn acres planted since the June 2 crop progress report, hurriedly ‘mudding it in’ as they say in unfavourable conditions,” Tricia Braid director of communications at the Illinois Corn Growers Association told Agricensus.

However, for farmers in some parts of the state, “the rains of June 4, especially in northern Illinois, mean that they are finished planting corn, even if that means they have put zero corn seeds in the ground by that date,” Braid said.

The state produces around 15% of the country’s entire corn harvest, but planting activity has been badly hit by near constant rain and flooding, with June 5 representing the final planting date for crop insurance policies in the eastern corn belt, encompassing Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.

All except Michigan appear in the top 10 corn producing states, accounting for almost a quarter of the country’s production.


Such is the significance of the state’s crop that what Illinois’s farmers do next may serve as a bellwether for the 2019/20 crop’s final prospects.

Crop progress in Illinois was put at 45% as of Sunday, June 2, versus 100% at the same point of 2018, with the state seeing only two days of fieldwork possible over the week, and topsoil moisture rated as surplus across 60% of the state’s acreage.

“Depending on what the weather brings for the remainder of the growing season, those planted acres could face compaction problems or crusting that inhibits corn emergence, for example,” Braid told Agricensus, with a potential switch to soybean planting only likely to be available to some.

Corn futures prices have surged by over 24% as fears mounted that the country would lose millions of acres to waterlogged fields, leaving the final US production well below expectations.

But the higher prices mean farmers have been incentivised to try and plant corn, rather than claim prevented plantings on insurance or switch to soybeans – although the passing of the final insurance deadline may curtail efforts to plant after June 5.

“The agronomics and economics of some situations may mean that it doesn’t make sense to plant corn at all. Some may have the ability to switch those acres to soybeans. Time will tell,” Braid said.