'Probably the best-looking crop that we've ever raised': Ideal - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

'Probably the best-looking crop that we've ever raised': Ideal growing conditions for corn pleases farmers

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By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Jeremy Thomas definitely doesn't want to jinx it, but the Pittsfield farmer says this year's corn crop looks good -- really good -- and soybeans aren't far behind.

"This honestly is the best I've ever seen it since I started farming 19 years ago. No matter what type of ground it's on, this is probably the best-looking crop that we've ever raised," Thomas said. "The corn grew so fast that beans look like they're behind. But for this time of year, they're right on track and looking pretty good."

A combination of not-too-hot temperatures and ample rainfall created near-ideal growing conditions for the crops.

"It's a long ways from the bin," Thomas said. "The crop's not finished yet, but as long as we continue to get good weather, we'll have a good crop. It's in Mother Nature's hands."

The potential exists for most area farmers to have an excellent crop.

"The corn crop, in many people's opinions, has never looked this good this time of year in such a broad geographic range. The exception would be fields in the Mississippi River bottoms that are plagued by high water," said Mike Roegge, University of Illinois Extension local food systems and small farms educator. "If we don't get any rain the rest of the year, we'll have a good crop. But just a couple more inches of rain within the next couple weeks will insure a huge crop."

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture crop forecast boosted ending stocks for corn and soybeans, which sent market prices down.

"We've lost a couple dollars on soybeans, a dollar on corn in the last couple months," Roegge said, and with a significant amount of this year's crop not sold yet, "that could be pretty significant for some folks."

Short crops in recent years pushed prices as high as $7 for corn and $16 for soybeans.

"The cure for high prices is high prices," Roegge said. "When prices are high, people around the globe take advantage of that and plant. That's happened."

There is enough corn and soybeans to take care of global needs, Burnside farmer Terry Pope said, but whether it's in the right spot can cause nearby prices to shoot up or down.

"Prices tend to work like a pendulum. They go too high, go too low and even out somewhere in the middle," Pope said. "We're on a downhill side at the moment, but time will tell."

Farmers this year at least will have bushels to sell.

"In 2012, we kind of had a drought, and when you don't have bushels, there's not much you can do," Pope said. "You always need bushels, no matter what the price is."

Pope said the crop's success still depends on rainfall.

"In June we had 8 inches of rain, about double what we normally get. That really helped. We went into spring with a dry subsoil," he said. "Soybean is an August crop. It just depends on when we get timely rains in August so pods on the beans will go ahead and fill."

Corn, so far, also is avoiding the typical insect and disease problems.

"Usually you're starting to see some leaf diseases and that type of stuff in corn, but this year it's really healthy. We're not having to spray a lot. Whether it's hill ground or bottom creek ground, you don't see any bad spots in it like a normal year," Thomas said.

"The old saying used to be knee high by the Fourth of July. It's usually about shoulder high, and we had a lot of corn tasseling by the Fourth of July this year," he said. "The way it looks, we might be shelling a lot of corn here in the early part of September this year."

-- dhusar@whig.com/221-3379

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