Corn and soybean harvests survive summer drought, USDA projects Illinois to be a top state for production

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
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METAMORA (25News Now) - The challenge was great for farmers in central Illinois as they tend to their crops this fall.

“Until it’s in the bin, anything can happen,” said Peoria County farmer Ross Pauli.

25News talked with farmers from Peoria and now Woodford County since the drought. Both said the summer drought was tough.

“Those showers just barely kept us going, but boy at the end of June, it was looking pretty bleak,” said Metamora farmer Eric Hodel. “We were about 10 days away from what could have been a trainwreck.”

But Hodel said he harvested more corn than he anticipated back in June when we spoke with him Thursday.

He’s harvested all of his soybean fields and expects his corn fields to be wrapped up by the weekend.

The United States Department of Agriculture crunches the numbers for crops in all states.

Despite the drought, statistician Mark Schleusener projected Illinois to have the highest production of soybean in the nation, and the second highest for corn.

“With our yield forecasts as of Oct. 1, we have good crops in Illinois. Not great,” said Schleusener.

“The dry weather we had at the end of August may have cut short the lifespan of some of the soybeans in particular, and maybe some of the yield potential,” said the statistician.

Schleusener said an early frost won’t be an issue for farmers due to planting earlier than normal.

The percentage of corn and soybean harvested in Illinois is higher than the five-year average.

Hodel said he’s thankful his crops survived.

“We’re just grateful for what we have,” said Hodel. “We actually have a really nice crop out there.”