Walter Wetzel Jr. farmed with his brother, David, near Waterloo.
March 30: Introducing Walter Wetzel Jr.
Walter Wetzel farmed with his brother, David, near Waterloo. His wife, Pat, was their bookkeeper and combine operator when needed. They have no-tilled their “hill ground” for many years. They did minimum till on corn and no-till on soybeans in the Mississippi River bottoms. This year they are having a young man farm most of the land. They will help him some and finish farming some leased land. Walter and Pat will also farm a tract operated by their corporation, which they continued after they sold their dairy cows in 1999.
April 6: Better shape than last year
Spring has sprung in Monroe County! Corn planting and anhydrous application has started. Conventional planting is working well as is no-till planting. There are also some patches of horseradish being planted in Monroe County. Mississippi River levels are not terrible but locks are closed so we are hoping for only light rains, not heavy rains. We are not having much seep water from the river at this time, but it will depend on river levels from this point forward. At this time, we are in better shape than we were last year. We have also started our grass mowing for the year and the red bud trees are blooming. When you go to visit your ag supplier, you may want to wear a mask or a simple handkerchief. Let’s keep the incidence of the virus low here in Southern Illinois.
April 13: Corn about an inch from spiking
The corn that I reported as being planted last week is about an inch from spiking. A little warm rain and sunshine would make it pop right out of the ground. We had a mostly dry week last week which allowed much work to be done. There have now been many chemicals put on and cover crops burned down for soybeans. I don’t know of any soybeans being planted at this time, but much of the corn has been. The Mississippi River is still high but not creating a problem at this time.
April 20: Soybean planting 'started in earnest'
Brrr! It was 29 degrees yesterday morning (April 18). It has been cold this past week with just a shower amounting to about 0.3 inch. Great for having grass come up, but corn has really slowed down, as there are only a few plants poking out. Saw a small patch of soybeans yesterday that you could see down the row. A neighbor had planted them in early March to try out a new planter. Soybean planting has started in earnest in the area. We are lucky in this part of the state as it has stayed a little warmer with no snow in contrast to central and northern Illinois.
April 27: 2.1-2.7 inches of slow, steady rain
For those worried about a drought since we had a dry period, we can stop worrying since over the last several days we had 2.1 to 2.7 inches of slow and steady rain. Prior to the rain we had gotten a lot of corn and soybeans planted. Most everyone has their soybean preplant chemicals and cover crop burndown herbicides applied. It is now very easy to see down the rows of corn planted during the first week of April. Corn planted later is having a hard time getting out of the ground due to cold temperatures. With warmer temperatures predicted we will soon see more corn and soybeans emerge.
May 4: Tremendous amounts of water standing
Most of the wheat has headed out. You can see corn rows in most of the fields. However, with some fields we will have to wait and see if the warmer weather is able to get all of the corn up. With the river being high and locks not being able to be opened and having had 4 inches of rain over the last 10 days there is a tremendous amount of water standing in some of the river bottom areas. Horseradish — which is planted in hilled rows — is growing very well. The small patch of soybeans I had reported about earlier which was planted in early March is looking super. Soybeans planted mid-April are just starting to break the surface.
May 11: Warm weather would be appreciated
Not a lot accomplished this past week except for some nitrogen being side dressed on no-till corn. I saw one farmer planting soybeans May 7 on ground that had been opened up on Saturday. As long as units were down it looked pretty respectable, but when the planter was raised at the end of the field it did not look good. Soybeans that were planted earlier are coming up, but some spots may need to be replanted where there was too much compaction or where water holes filled in. Warm, dry weather would be much appreciated by crops and farmers. We have to wait and see if frost bothered the wheat or corn that definitely got frosted.
May 18: Corn at V-5 and looking good
Had a heavy rain late Saturday afternoon, May 16. We were almost to the point of being able to plant soybeans and sidedress corn again. Since that heavy rain it has been lightly raining and we are now up to over three-fourths of an inch. Other parts of the county had a lot more. All we can do now is just wait for it to dry out again. Luckily, we got the wheat fungicide on a week ago. Our first corn is in the V-5 stage and looking good. The first soybeans are out of the ground. Some headlands with extra compaction may need some beans added. It just does not work well to plant crops when the ground is not dry enough.
May 22: Will slow-growing corn yield more bushels per acre?
Corn is growing slow due to the cold temperatures. Does USDA have any information as to whether corn growing this slow will definitely make the 10 bushels more per acre than the bushels produced last year? We do know that every plant did not come up within three days of each other, which I remember a past winner of the corn yield contest said was needed for top yields. Corn and soybeans need their post spraying for weed control, which seems to be impossible due to wet conditions. It is just warm enough that soybeans do keep emerging — those that have been planted. Hay making is impossible.
June 1: Earliest corn shading rows
The first planted corn is shading the rows. Some corn where there has been too much water looks yellow. We noticed some wheat today does not look good. The ground is totally saturated with water, and it might be drowning. We need to have our agronomist check. It was treated with fungicide, but we had over 5 inches of rain the week of May 24, some of which came slow. We were able to side dress no-till corn May 31. We hope the ground will dry out enough to allow planting soybeans June 1. Soybeans that are planted look good. The Mississippi River is over flood stage.
June 8: Mississippi River near flood stage
The Mississippi River is just a hair below flood stage. We hope rains next week that are left over from the tropical storm don’t make it go crazy. Some wheat is getting close to harvest. There appears to be white areas in some of the fields. I haven’t been able to determine if they are from wet spots or possibly from the frost from maybe a month ago. Most of the corn and soybeans are planted. A lot of corn does not look the best, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference whether it was no-till or conventionally planted. If it gets a little drier and the sun shines, maybe it will all start looking better.
June 15: Corn, beans make stunning recovery
The hot, sunny almost dry week has made a stunning recovery of the corn and soybean plants. We think most of the post spraying has been accomplished. Wheat is almost ready to combine. Some of the areas of the fields that had a white cast to them either from too much rain or possibly frost have dry, shrunken kernels, but the wheat that kept its color has plump tough kernels yet. It may be ready about the time the rain starts again. The horseradish is also doing much better. If the weather stays drier then we possibly won’t have to mow lawns more than once a week.
June 22: Rain may have saved corn crop
Wheat harvest is going strong in Monroe County, but now it rained so the test weights may drop but the rain overnight has probably saved the corn crop at this point in time. The corn would not have lasted much longer without the rain, a big difference from the last report when the dry warm weather was helping the corn. Too much of a good thing at times is not good. I hope we have some more rain overnight so double crop beans that sprout will not run into dry ground underneath. The earliest corn is starting to tassel.
June 29: Rain helping double-crop soybeans
Post spraying continues on first-crop soybeans. Our wheat harvest is completed but not all are that fortunate. Double-crop soybeans are just starting to pop through. We need to thank the rain (June 21-22) for that. Most corn is looking good but some is either lacking oxygen or the nitrogen has left due to too much rain.
July 6: Soybeans starting to bloom
The double-crop soybeans are up and looking good, except for some areas where voles are snacking on them. Most of the corn is either tasseled or tasseling. Rain showers have really helped. Tasseling is very uneven in fields where wet spots slowed corn development. Soybeans are starting to bloom and some fields have waterhemp appearing where dicamba was not able to be used.
July 13: Field corn not so tasty
The weather is really hot, as probably everybody knows. We decided to harvest two ears of field corn to hold us out until sweet corn is ready. It has been so long since we did that that we didn’t realize that you have to harvest it when the silks are somewhat yellow yet. It was edible but not as good as I remember as a kid many years ago. At this point, corn and soybeans are looking good but we don’t know how long they can hang on without additional moisture. Do your best to stay in the shade and stay cool.
July 20: Rain makes crops look, feel good
The weather is hot but we got enough rain the last week to make the crops look good and feel good. The humidity is high so it is uncomfortable for people and livestock. Sweet corn got going a little late this year but it is now ready and tastes very good. Grass growing had slowed down but with the rain the middle of last week, we can start mowing again. Tame blackberries are ripe and we have a farm dog who has a berry palate. She doesn’t care if they are black or red. She goes through the patch picking and eating. We prefer the black ones – much sweeter!!
July 27: Crops prospering thanks to spotty showers
Thanks to the spotty showers we have been having, the crops seem to be doing very well in our area. Double-crop beans have been sprayed. Some fields in the area have waterhemp, but overall things look pretty good. Lawns are growing very fast again. Some corn has been sprayed with fungicides. Soybeans will probably be next. Some days there is good air movement and drier air but there is a lot of dew every morning so you just have to take your chances on whether it is good to treat or not.
August 3: Fields and yards are saturated
Since the last report it has rained almost every day. Fields and yards are totally saturated. We hope this is OK for the crops. We noticed the next planting of sweet corn did not pollinate very good — hope the field corn was not affected as much as the sweet corn. Soybeans are blossoming. Hope they are OK with constant rain. I never complain about too much rain as I am old enough to know that too much rain is better than no rain at all — as long as it does not flood.
August 10: Corn husks showing fall color
Well, we got a little over an inch of rain overnight on Aug. 9, so we will be able to continue mowing fast-growing grass. We drove past the soybean field that was planted in March by neighbors checking out their new planter. You can notice a change toward maturity in that field. Some corn husks are starting to change to a fall color, so I guess harvest, especially of corn, will not be late this year. There is no black layer on corn yet, but kernels are very solid. Double-crop soybeans are looking good.
August 17: Wind from plains comes to Monroe County
Who would have thought that a wind that started out in the plains and did so much destruction in Iowa would have made it all the way to Monroe County, Illinois, just south of St Louis? Driving around Sunday morning (Aug. 16), we saw only a small amount of crop damaged but that corn was flat on the ground. However, previously we had a top of a tree in our yard taken out which eliminated our power from Monday evening till shortly after noon on Thursday.
August 24: Black layer on some corn
The neighbor’s soybeans that were planted in March testing a new planter are starting to lose their leaves. Corn husks are drying off and you can find black layer on some corn. I saw one small patch on sandy ground that had been combined. Where the herbicides didn’t work weeds are enjoying the hot weather and growing profusely. Hummingbirds are tanking up on sugar water, which they usually do before they leave for their flight south.
Aug. 31: Varying looks of maturity
We ended up getting between 0.1 and 0.4 inches of rain thanks to the hurricane. Too bad some people had to get so much destruction to help us get a little bit of rain to help finish the soybeans better. We are not sure what final soybean yields will be since there are a lot of pods but many only have one or two beans in them instead of three or four. It has been a strange year. The corn is starting to dry off, but different fields have varying looks of maturity.
Sept. 7: Corn harvesst going slowly
We’re still slowly working on corn harvest. Early corn is about 25% out of the field. We’re having two or three sunny days which should help field drying. Soybeans are starting to turn but are still very green except for the neighbor’s field which was planted in March. They have lost a lot of leaves. Once they are harvested I will check to see how they did.
Sept. 14: Early beans starting to color
A lot of the early beans are changing leaf color and starting to lose some leaves. However, we do not have to be ready to combine any yet because the neighbor’s beans that were planted in March are not yet ready even though they have lost most of their leaves. There are still some green leaves here and there in the field so there are also probably green pods lingering. The corn also seems to be taking its time getting to maturity and drying down. Where corn has been harvested, some cover crops are starting to be planted.
Sept. 21: 60 bu./acre beans very respectable
The beans that were planted in March by the neighbor testing his planter were combined Friday, Sept. 18. They made 60 bushels per acre, which is a very respectable yield for our part of Illinois. They were dry; I forgot to check what maturity group they were. The weather is abnormally dry and bean fields are showing where the soil is not as deep. We sowed some grass in our yard two weeks ago and with watering the grass came right up; cover crops planted in non-irrigated fields, not so much.
Sept. 28: Elevators will be extra busy
Soybean harvest has started in our area, and with the low humidity it is moving along at a rapid pace. The early group 3s seem to be ready and the later maturing beans are turning — even some of the double crop are getting yellow areas in the fields. Corn harvest is still moving along, so elevators will be extra busy having both crops coming at the same time. Some river elevators are paying a bonus to get October contracted beans delivered now (end of September), so I guess there is a need for beans to be exported. Hoping for rain tonight — would settle the dust.
Oct. 5: Picking and choosing soybeans for harvest
A large number of the corn fields have been harvested. Soybean fields are more of a pick-and-choose of the ones that are ready. Most are turning, but some of them have enough spots of beans not ready in them to keep people at bay. It appears some wheat has been planted but we are dry enough in this area that it may not come up until we have some rains. Hopefully it does not sprout ahead of time. We were supposed to have a 50% chance of rain Oct. 3-4 but we virtually had none, just several periods of a little mist.
Oct. 12: Planted wheat; waiting for rain
We are still waiting for rain. The only advantage to this is that we do not have to mow grass much anymore. We hope the wheat either finds enough moisture to start out and keep going or that it doesn’t find any moisture and will lay there until we get sufficient rain. Finding fields of soybeans ready to cut is still a problem, and shorter hours at the elevators compound that problem. But if it stays hot and dry that problem will probably correct itself next week.
Oct. 19: 0.04 inches seems like a big rain
As of Sunday afternoon, Oct. 18, it is raining a little. We have received 0.04 inches, which seems like a mighty big rain! Our wheat is planted and some cover crops have been planted, but most of the cereal rye has yet to appear. In our operation most of the double-crop soybeans have been harvested, with just one field still to go. As everyone knows, it was hard to combine beans this past week without them being at 9% moisture.
Oct. 26: Rain improves soybean moisture
After a number of days of slow rains, soybeans that a week ago were at 9% are now at 20%. The rains have made the wheat look a lot better. We just hope the spots in the fields that are missing plants will fill in yet. Most of the corn has been harvested, but there is still quite a bit of soybeans left standing, especially double-crop soybeans. There has been some tillage work done on the flat river bottom ground, but hopefully most of the hilly ground will be left for no-till.
Nov. 2: Early winter or Indian summer?
Humidity is down, beans are drying and the ground is drying. There are many soybeans to be harvested yet; many of them double-crop. It is 24 degrees this morning, Nov. 2. Winter feels early right now, but we may have an Indian summer coming. Even though they tell us they can, I don’t think anyone has really learned how to totally predict the weather. We just have to be ready to do things when it works to do them.
Nov. 9: Hard to work with the weather
Sometimes it is hard to work with the weather. Harvest was aided by low humidity and no rain, so at this point where we have some soybeans in flat storage, we are trying to add moisture back into the beans by running the fans when there is humidity. This works in flat storage but is risky in a grain bin since the beans can expand and possibly compromise the grain bin. We tried planting a waterway when we planted wheat, but excessive rain created a ditch so we will try in the spring to redo the waterway and replant it.
It rained about two inches Saturday afternoon and overnight (Nov. 14), so it is good that most of the crops in Monroe County have been harvested as fields look very wet at this point. Winds are very strong today with gusts up to 45 miles per hour, but on our crop tour this morning water was running out of many of the fields. The wheat that was planted earlier is very green, and wheat that was just planted in the last two weeks looks like it is coming very well.
Illinois Crop Regions
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