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Coles County

Todd Easton

Todd Easton raises corn, soybeans, and wheat on his farm near Charleston.


A beautiful Mother’s Day weekend kicked the ground drying into high gear, letting tractors hit the fields Monday or Tuesday, depending on the area. Dust and machinery has been flying ever since, planting, replanting, spraying, tillage, sidedressing, you name it -- it’s going on day and night. I find myself getting a quick look at millions of V2-stage corn plants as I make the rounds with the sidedress bar. The plants look a lot healthier now that they have seen some sunshine and heat, and look to be actually growing. Soybean fields that many of us have spent the last two weeks being nervous about have emerged with decent stands, showing a lot of resilience considering some of them spent a few days underwater. I know a few of you are staying out long enough to turn the lights on and turn them back off. Please be careful out there


The tides have receded here in Coles County, mostly. Crop damage, of course, depends on the area you’re in. Most cornfields have at least a few spots in them that need replanted. The worst is what I’ve been known to call the “land of lakes region” north of Charleston where water still stands over large areas and may remain for a while. Crops that are out of the ground are showing the yellowed, stressed look telling us what we already know -- we need sun and heat. The crops still under the surface seem to be looking for incentive (heat) to come out. After the big rain two weeks ago, crusting issues were becoming evident, but the latest .8 of an inch Thursday actually seemed to help fix that. It almost seems like March and May traded weather patterns, and without GDU’s accumulating, the plants are not growing.


Anybody who doesn’t believe the old adage that the printed word is outdated the second the ink dries, needs to re-read my report last week. I had stated that, even though we were rained out, the inch of rain we received, plus even a bit more, would be good to recharge the dry subsurface. The next 5 inches last weekend (April 29-30) did much more than that. Field ponds were bigger than I ever remember them being. It looked like I would be replanting about 5 percent of my corn crop. But the cool, cloudy days that followed gave the high waters time to get away, so that by Wednesday, most all the little seedlings, albeit yellowed, seemed to make it out intact. Then came another 5 inches of rain Thursday, closing roads and schools, and putting standing water in places I didn’t know it could stand. Time will tell how much we will have to replant, but it doesn’t look good at this point. Planted soybean fields are in the same precarious situation. Unplanted soybean fields are becoming weedy messes even where burndown was applied. As fierce winds howl outside my office window, I just sit back and realize we will just have to see what tomorrow brings because that’s what farmers do.


Another week of steady planting progress here in Coles County until a big system moved in Wednesday afternoon and left 1 inch of rain in the gauge. The forecast for the next several days looks pretty wet also. The corn crop is all but in from what I see, and soybean planters have a good start on their job. The countryside is starting to green up with early-planted corn emerged and easily rowed in many fields. Even a few soybeans are poking their heads out of the ground already. Even though planters are idled for a few days, everyone is glad to get some more moisture in the ground. The soil has had some unused water holding capacity all spring, so it will be good to get moisture in there -- we may need it later.