R.F.D. NEWS AND VIEWS: Planters finally rolling in central Illinois

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Farmers were anxious to get into their fields last week after poor weather kept machinery idle for most of April. A Mossville (Peoria County) farmer is pictured preparing for fieldwork on Friday, April 29. (Photo by Tim Alexander)

Farmers are breathing a sigh of relief now that planting has started in earnest throughout most of Illinois, with many taking to their fields last week. We also have a report on the huge increase in the Farm Index for most commodities over the past year, and a look at the impacts of late planting. For this and other news of note for farmers and rural dwellers, please read on …


Planters finally rolling in central Illinois

PEORIA — The familiar sight of farm machinery on and around rural roadways was on full display across central Illinois last week, after a prolonged period of above average precipitation and below average temperatures kept planters in sheds through most of April. The week of April 25 began with Illinois crop progress far behind normal pace; corn planted had reached just 2 percent, compared to the five-year average of 21 percent, while soybeans planted were at just 1 percent, compared to the five-year average of 8 percent.

There were only an average 1½ days suitable for field work across Illinois during the week ending April 24, according to USDA-NASS’ Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report. By the middle of the following week, however, this reporter had observed dozens of tractors moving planters in and out of farm fields across Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties. In Peoria County, farm bureau manager Patrick Kirchhofer told news media that he estimates 15-20 percent of both corn and soybean crops had been planted in central Illinois during the week.

Speaking to the Illinois Farm Bureau news service, Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford offered an outlook for the rest of the planting season. “The outlook for May is looking near normal for precipitation, which will give folks a chance to get in the field,” said Ford. “Temperatures are leaning toward likely below normal. But, for May, that’s still warm enough to get field activity done, which is important. There will be delays in some fields, but I’m not concerned about widespread delays nearly like what we saw in 2019.”


Report examines impacts of late planting

URBANA — An article published last week on the University of Illinois’ farmdocDAILY webpage examines the impact of late planting on the U.S. average corn yield. “Late planting is defined as the percentage of the U.S. corn crop planted after May 20th (except for a few early years). We then estimate a regression model between corn acreage planted late and trend deviations for the U.S. average corn yield over 1980 through 2021. The results indicate a 10 percent increase in late planting decreases the U.S. average corn yield by about two bushels per acre,” wrote farm economists Todd Hubbs and Scott Irwin in their article, The Impact of Late Planting on U.S. Average Corn Yield.

“Overall, the impact of late planting is rather modest, causing the national corn yield to deviate above or below trend by no more than three bushels in most years. Other factors, namely summer weather, dominate the impact of late planting in determining the national average corn yield. Of course, there can be exceptions. For example, the model estimated that late planting in 2019 led to a 6.3 bushel decline below trend for the U.S. average corn yield. The lesson from this analysis for 2022 is that even if late planting is well-above average, the impact on the U.S. average corn yield is not likely to be large. But, even a five-bushel drop in yield below trend will only further tighten what is already a tight supply/demand balance.”


Farm price index shows large gains

SPRINGFIELD — USDA’s March Prices Received Index Base for Illinois Agricultural Production, at 127.3, increased 6.3 percent from February and 31 percent from March 2021. At 120.5, the Crop Production Index was up 5.6 percent from last month and 23 percent from the previous year. The Livestock Production Index, at 134.5, increased 6.7 percent from February, and 39 percent from March last year. Producers received higher prices during March for broilers, lettuce and corn, according to the April 29 Illinois Agricultural Prices report issued by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

A deeper dive into the report shows that corn sold in Illinois has increased in value from $4.96 per bushel in March 2021 to $6.65/bu. in March 2022, after selling for an average of $6.28 in February 2022. Also in Illinois, soybeans have increased from $13.10 a year ago in March to $15.40 in March 2022, after leaping from $14.90 in February. These prices mirror national trends as well, with corn rising from $4.89 to $6.56 over the past year and soybeans escalating from $13.20 to $15.40.

The value of milk in Illinois has also increased from $17/cwt. in March 2020 to $25.80 in March of this year, while rising from $17.30 nationally to $25.90. Other commodities that have experienced significant price jumps across the nation include hay, alfalfa, oats, sorghum, wheat, calves, beef cattle, cows, steers and heifers, and hogs, according to the report.


ISA celebrates state biodiesel win

BLOOMINGTON — After Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation incentivizing use of higher biodiesel blends, Andrew Larson with the Illinois Soybean Association did an interview with Brownfield in which he said the bill has been a cornerstone initiative of the ISA for the past few years. “We were successful in getting legislation passed and signed this week by the governor to extend the state sales tax exemption on biodiesel blends of 10 percent and higher for the next few years,” he said.

The legislation extends the current B10 sales tax exemption until 2023 and then allows an increase in the blend level subject to the tax exemption to B13 in 2024, B15 in 2025 and B19 in 2026. Larson said the soybean association was also successful in getting the exemption extended for a longer period, with the new law valid through 2030.

“Which is a huge win because based on the law that existed before this week, by 2024 there would have been no biodiesel support in state policy. So, it is a huge win and provides certainty for the industry,” Larson said.

Negotiations surrounding the bill, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, were led by the ISA. “Illinois is the largest soybean-growing state in the U.S. Going to higher blends will increase demand for this byproduct,” Joyce said. “It’s a good source of fuel. It’s good for Illinois, and it will help the state economy.”


Illinois Farm Fact

A recent study found that in Chicago, switching to B100 would decrease diesel particular matter-related cancer risks by up to nearly 1,600 cases. (Illinois Soybean Association/Clean Fuel Alliance)

R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Wet spring still sidelining planters