Illinois farmers worry that planting delays due to wet, chilly spring could impact fall harvest

MANHATTAN, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois farmers are reporting planting issues this spring as the wet, chilly weather is making it difficult to get seeds in the ground.

And with more of the same weather expected, this inclement planting season could have an adverse effect at harvest time.

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Dave Kestel has been farming in Will County for 35 years. Usually he is planting corn and soy beans by now, but the wet weather has made that virtually impossible.

"We've basically have done nothing," Kestel said. "I got 30 acres of beans planted early. Other than that, we've done nothing."

And Kestel's not alone. The vast majority of farmland in our area remains unplanted.

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"At state wide averages, we're at 7% on corn and 5% of soy beans," said Mark Schneidewind, Will County Farm Bureau. "Last year, 50% of our corn was planted by this time and 38% of our soy beans."

More than an inch of rain fell Tuesday morning and another soaking rain is expected Thursday night into Friday, but that's not the only problem facing farmers. Soil temperatures are abnormally cold, keeping what few seeds that have been planted from germinating.

"To make soy beans and corn grow, the soil temperature has to be 50 degrees at 4 inches at 10 in the morning," Kestel said. "I checked it at 3 in the afternoon - so the warmest part of the day - and it was only 50 degrees then."

Right now, Will County fields are just too waterlogged to even think about planting. Now we are expecting warmer and dryer weather next week, but even then, it will take several days before farmers can get back into these fields. That pushes the planting date back into a window where yields will be adversely affected.

"After the 10th of May, the corn yields really start dropping off," Kestel said.

Planting can occur as late as early June, but the harvest would be significantly reduced.

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