Bassett is a fourth-generation farmer in Greenville in Bond County. She raises corn, soybeans and wheat, and also has a seed dealership.
Aug. 26: 100 GDUs behind
We received additional rainfall during the week and there is more in the forecast. The crop recovered from dry conditions, but soybeans are dying off in low-lying areas from the flooding damage. Waterhemp escapes along with uncontrolled palmer amaranth populations have seeded out for the season. Our June-planted corn is 100 GDUs behind the 20-year average, making cooler temperatures a bigger concern as June-planted corn won’t black layer until October.
Aug. 19: Yield checks seem premature
Another week of summer temperatures in the 90s moved the crop along, trying to make up some of the season delay. Fungicide applications to soybeans are continuing. Yield checks on corn and soybeans seem premature with beans still setting pods and the potential for tip-back on corn still a concern. Storms brought heavy winds and rain, and some corn and soybeans leaned as a result. Weekly rainfall totals in a few isolated parts of the neighborhood were over 12 inches! The limited acres of sorghum in the area have already headed. It’s time to begin servicing equipment and preparing for harvest along with a quick trip to the Farm Progress Show to see the industry’s showcase.
Aug. 12: Corn showing signs of firing
Much-needed rainfall covered the area, providing relief to a crop that seemed to be turning around with continued heat and moisture stress. Corn is in blister and beyond and is already showing signs of firing as grain fill draws on the plant. Soybeans will benefit from the timely rain as fields were beginning to show stress in marginal soils. There is a lot of dust flying as prevent plant acres are being worked for cover crop or wheat seeding. We’ve been controlling noxious weeds along field borders, including teasel and johnsongrass. Our garden is finally yielding much anticipated produce.
Aug. 5: Caught up after condensed season
The crop continues to progress with corn completing pollination and moving into grain fill stages. Early ear size indications suggest stress did not impact kernel potential, but final kernel number is still being determined. Disease pressure remains low overall. Soybeans have some pods, and flowers are still abundant. Everything would benefit from rain. Things are finally caught up after a rather condensed season, and it’s time for a vacation before school starts. There are also a number of field days during August to learn about what is new in the industry.
July 29: Disease pressure is low
Another week of summer weather will push the corn crop to pollination and beginning grain fill in the area. Overall disease pressure is low, with no confirmations of southern rust locally. Fungicide applications to corn are starting, but some indicate there may be fewer acres treated this season. Insect pressure is very low to non-existent, with a few Japanese beetles in soybeans. This is county fair week for our community, which highlights local animal agriculture and 4-H.
July 22: Late corn set to reach maturity in October
Much-needed precipitation was delivered by tropical depression Barry to prepare the crop for excessive heat. Corn is in the final stages of stem elongation, with pollination predicted near the end of the month. The delayed development in the corn crop suggests it may not reach maturity or black layer until the first week of October. Aside from the usual corn diseases, I am scouting for southern rust due to the tropical storm and potential spore showers. Soybean flowers finally opened last week. Some soybean fields are showing cupping of the leaves.
July 15: Crop growth accelerates with temps
Crop growth and development has accelerated with temperatures in the 90s throughout the last week. Corn is showing some response to this heat and curling during the day. Very few tassels have emerged throughout the area, with only a few fields planted before June. Soybeans that are near V6 growth stage have not started flowering. A lot of herbicide applications were made to soybeans just prior to the cutoff date for dicamba use. With the crop finally in the ground, the attention has shifted to mowing roadsides and ditches and putting up late hay for livestock producers.
July 8: 'Variability will be the biggest issue'
The crop is finally done being planted as double-crop, some first-crop and replant soybeans are emerging at the same time. My observations from walking a representation of corn acres confirm variability will be the biggest issue this season. Corn is nearing V8 aside from April corn that's tasseling. Most soybeans are beginning to close into narrow rows. Disease findings include anthracnose in corn-on-corn and beginning pustules of common rust in corn. Weed control in prevent plant acres, including chemical and mechanical methods, is top of mind.
June 28: Uneven corn color, size
It has been several years since the saying “knee high by the Fourth of July” accurately describes our corn crop. Most corn looks uneven in color and size as it is moving into deeper placed nitrogen from NH3. Soybeans are putting on their first trifoliate leaf, with most fields having some water holes with thin stands from all of the rain and ponding. Wheat harvest is well under way. Early yield reports indicate a wide range mainly due to field drainage and management practices. Reports of scab issues and vomitoxin have been quiet so far.
June 24: Conditions dampen wheat harvest
The area received several inches of rain over the past week. Field activity has been halted for most due to saturated conditions. A few acres of corn were sidedressed with nitrogen during the week. Corn condition is declining in poorly drained fields as pythium damping off is prevalent. No-till soybeans seem to lag behind in development compared to conventional soybean fields this season. Very little wheat has been cut in the area, and harvest will be difficult until conditions dry up enough to allow field traffic.
June 17: 'Everyone trying to wrap up planting'
It was a busy week, with everyone trying to wrap up planting before a week of forecasted rain. A lot of corn and soybeans benefited from the moisture. Post-applied corn herbicide applications were going on ahead of the rain along with soybean herbicide applications. It was a good week to cut hay with ideal conditions for drying. Wheat harvest will begin soon across the area.
June 10: Weed control now top of mind
Corn and soybean planting continues throughout the area as conditions remain optimal for field work. Fields that were planted a week ago have emerged as growing degree day units accumulated quickly with high daytime temperatures. It is time to assess stand establishment and scout for any insects and disease. Maintaining weed control in a late-planted crop is top of mind. Wheat is beginning to ripen. With continued wet weather from pollination through most of grain fill, the quality is still a question.
June 3: Rush is on
Field activity finally started in the area late last week. The rush to plant corn before the June 5 crop insurance date is on as the forecast calls for several days of widespread rain again. Everyone is completing as much field work as possible during this window of favorable weather. Livestock growers have started cutting hay and spreading manure.
May 24: Talk of earlier hybrids, prevent plant
It has been another week of rain, with totals near 5 inches on our farm. Field work has not started aside from a few fields in the area that were worked and planted in less than ideal conditions. Farmer sentiment is showing the strain of the delayed season and market uncertainty. Discussions regarding earlier hybrids, prevent planting and switching crops are the main topics as the current forecast offers little chance of getting into the field soon. Wheat is done flowering and is the only crop many have growing right now.
May 20: Field work still on hold
Another week of the same weather, with several days of drying along with an inch of rain. Field work is still on hold, though many are attempting to apply dry fertilizer and spray burndown on fields that will allow. If the weather pattern changes by the end of the week, intended cropping plans will stay the same. Most of the wheat has flowered and fungicides have been applied as conditions are favorable for the development of fusarium head scab. On the pest watch, armyworms are present in wheat but not at alarming levels, and cutworms are feeding in April-planted corn at low levels.
May 13: Fungal disease limited so far
Another week of the same weather with several days of drying conditions followed by 2.5 inches of rain. The few acres of corn that were planted earlier struggled through difficult conditions but finally emerged. Wheat is in boot to heading stage and flowering will begin soon as temperatures are expected to warm. Despite wet conditions, fungal leaf diseases are limited so far. We are looking forward to a break in the weather to allow field work to finally begin.
May 6: 'Compared to 1993'
Field conditions are the same as they were last week. We had a few days of sun and drying followed by more rain. Some areas to the west along major rivers are flooded, with water levels compared to 1993. Controlling winter annuals will be the first task when it dries out to allow field activity. Alfalfa will be ready to cut as soon as fields can carry traffic and weather allows for drying. It will be a rush when the season finally begins.
April 29: Traps are active
The past week allowed for one day of limited field activity in the area before rains returned. A few sprayers were applying burndown, and a couple anhydrous ammonia applicators were running. The limited acres that were planted are mostly rolling hills. The forecast for another week of rain will delay additional field work. My black cutworm and armyworm traps are actively attracting moths. Without a growing corn crop, cutworm may not be a concern for now, but scouting wheat for armyworm will be necessary in the coming weeks.
April 22: Weed pressure continues
It’s been another week of nearly the same weather, with several drying days followed by a couple days of rain. Winter annual weed pressure continues to evolve as fields of henbit and purple deadnettle flowers begin transitioning to yellow rocket and butterweed. Field activity has not started but will likely begin as soon as conditions are marginally close, with many beginning to feel the season will be a rush with the continued delay.
April 15: Roller-coaster temps
The past week was a roller coaster with 80-degree temperatures and near-freezing conditions in a matter of days. A few places were dry enough for limited anhydrous ammonia applications prior to the last rain, but planting has not started in the area. There is concern about wheat that is jointing being damaged by cold temperatures. Winter annuals and cover crops are noticeable and will provide ideal egg-laying conditions for black cutworm moths that moved into the area with passing storms.
April 8: Anhydrous concern
Wheat is filling rows and the first pass of nitrogen fertilizer is complete for most fields. Aside from limited dry fertilizer applications made prior to recent rains, field work hasn't started as conditions remain too wet. Many growers are concerned about availability of anhydrous ammonia as this area relies on spring applications. The suggestion to plant corn first and side dress later that some are considering is backed by years of corn planting date studies that show earlier planting favors higher yields. Insects are coming alive with a few moths flying about at night. In the coming weeks I will deploy insect traps. The sound of cricket frogs and spring peepers is a welcome reminder of the season.
April 3: Introducing Kelli Bassett
Bassett is a fourth-generation farmer in Greenville in Bond County. She raises corn, soybeans and wheat, and also has a seed dealership. As an Illinois Certified Crop Advisor, she spends time scouting crops throughout the growing season with an interest in plant disease and insect management. She and her husband have one daughter.
Aug. 30: Late rain fills pods
The corn crop is creeping toward physiological maturity with dent stage happening for a lot of the June-planted crop. Variability within fields and from field to field is still the biggest concern when doing ear and kernel counts. I’ve found a few aphids in corn fields, but not at high levels. Livestock producers are gearing up to chop corn silage. Soybeans are taking advantage of late rain to fill pods.
Sept. 9: Southern rust finally takes off
Another week of good crop progress and moisture to keep things heading toward maturity. Differences between April-, May- and June-planted corn are noticeable. June planting dates are showing the most kernels tipping back and are more than 100 GDUs behind for the season. Southern rust finally took off in corn fields with plenty of moisture, since spores were deposited from the hurricane. Sudden death syndrome is developing in soybeans. Harvest preparations continue, but field work won’t resume for at least a month.
Sept. 16: Hopes of harvest in mid-October
The crop continues to progress, with hopes of harvest beginning in earnest toward the middle of October. The yield survey conducted across Bond county estimated corn at 174 bushels per acre and soybeans at 45 bushels per acre. Wide variability existed among the samples that were collected, which proves the difficult start to the growing season. A few soybeans are showing signs of turning and corn is in the final stretch to black layer.
Sept. 23: Stressed soybeans yellow first
The last week of hot and dry conditions pushed the crop forward. Cornfields are turning, with stressed areas dying rather than senescing normally. I expect crown and stalk rots will be noticeable in fields, knowing the beginning and the end of the season have been characterized by moisture stress. Soybeans are following the same pattern, with stressed areas turning yellow first. Low populations of bean leaf beetles can be found. Most silage has been chopped and prevent plant acres have been seeded to cover crops or are waiting for wheat.
Sept. 30: 'Welcoming another week of heat'
We are welcoming another week of heat to begin October and take moisture out of corn. June corn completed the season several growing degree units ahead despite spending much of the summer behind the 20-year average. Rainfall totals for the growing season have remained 5 to 7 inches above average, with little falling over the last month. Limited harvest is expected to begin in the area for early planted corn. Almost all soybean fields have started yellowing and shedding leaves with the nights growing longer. Double-crop beans will need the rest of the month to mature.
Oct. 7: Potential record for late harvest
It is the middle of October and we have not started harvest yet. I am not sure if that is a record for our farm, but we plan to cut early maturity beans this week. I have found a few random green stem soybeans with odd pod counts that are infected with bean pod mottle virus. This is not a concern other than for cutting. We will finish sowing wheat on prevent plant acres this week. Yield reports on corn from others in the area are favorable considering the delayed season and our soil types.
Oct. 14: Rain helps wheat, cover crops
Harvest progress remains slow in the area for the middle of October. We received almost 3 inches of rain at the end of the week, which slowed activity but helped recently seeded wheat and cover crops germinate. Prior to the temperature dropping to freezing, soybeans were dry but stems were holding onto moisture. Field activity has been a mix between early corn and soybeans with yield reports favorable to this point. As we move into harvesting June corn and later-maturity soybeans we will see how the yields compare.
Oct. 21: Yields depend on how acres handled foot of rain
Harvest activity has been halted for a couple days due to rain. Sometimes a break is welcome and allows time to rest and catch up on the farm or at home. Soybean yields are variable with a slight trend toward mid-maturity over late maturity. A lot of this simply depends on planting date and how acres handled the foot of rain we had earlier in the season. With most of the focus on soybeans, corn harvest is slower, with grain moisture still high. Wheat is seeded and most has emerged.
Oct. 28: Stalks are beginning to fall apart
Harvest progress continues in our area, with a lot of beans cut last week prior to 2.5 inches of rain over the weekend. Corn progress is slow as moisture loss is at a standstill. Stalks are beginning to fall apart, with tops down and few leaves remaining. Reports of corn and beans along with double-crop soybeans and milo all suggest respectable yields. With temperatures falling during harvest, field work will be put on hold until spring along with residue breakdown. There are a few rigs out applying fall chemicals. Soil sampling crews are busy trying to capture cores.
Nov. 4: Hard freeze took care of green stems
The first hard freeze came early on Halloween night and took care of the few remaining green stems in soybeans. Our area received only enough snow to be noticeable on standing crop before it disappeared. We moved into harvesting June-planted corn over the weekend and have been very pleased with yields. Both fungicide and split nitrogen applications have made a favorable difference for crop quality and yield. Moisture is running 18 to 20% in 111 to 113 CRM hybrids. Grain quality and test weights are both good so far.
Nov. 11: Test plot average over 225 bu./acre
We are expecting our second snow of the season today (Nov. 11) and temperatures were above 60 yesterday! Harvest continues across the area with acres of corn and soybeans still standing. We completed our hybrid test plot over the weekend with an average of over 225 bushels per acre. Surprisingly, this seems typical for 2019. Aside from field work, we took chickens to the processor last week. Two deer were also harvested from the farm.
Nov. 18: Field conditions deteriorate following snow
It was a slow week of harvest at our farm and in the area. Field conditions deteriorated following the snowfall and we’ve been forced to load trucks in places that can handle traffic. Backing down long field lanes, dragging mud onto county roads or highways or moving fields in the dark is not ideal for any operation, but it’s part of the end of this season. We received a reminder to complete the County Agricultural Production Survey for USDA. With a majority of the crop now harvested, we can provide a better response. It will be interesting to see the final results of this report, considering the unique growing season.
Nov. 22 Wrap-up: 'Reminded to have patience and faith'
We will finish harvest 2019 this week in time to spend the holiday with family. Equipment cleanup is next — everything from the combine to the cart probably has some road salt mixed with mud on it. This season was a challenge, but we were blessed with a good crop and great people working with us along the way. As farmers we were reminded to have patience and faith when Mother Nature kept us from going to the field in the spring. In the end, we learned that planting in June can raise a good corn crop in the right environment and prevent plant could provide a rest for acres that never dried out. As we analyze data and performance from this year we are already planning for 2020.