On October 17, 2019, the UI College ACES put out a news release that described an effort to gather yields from a lot of Illinois corn and soybean fields in 2019. We’re doing this because of the unique opportunity we have to try to get a handle on how planting date affected yields in 2019, so we know better what to expect if and when planting is this late again.
Although late planting is nothing new in Illinois, never before have so many acres been planted as late as in 2019. I describe it in the release as a “giant, unplanned, and involuntary experiment conducted by Illinois farmers.” No one wanted or expected this, but with thousands of fields planted late, we can use planting dates and yields—if we get them from enough fields—to estimate how much effect late planting had on yields. We can also see if changing to an earlier-maturing hybrid for late planting increased yield. It takes a large number of fields for this because variability among fields is so great that having only a few dozen yields from, say, the third week of June won’t give us a very sound estimate of yield.
We already have a fair amount of data from planned experiments in which we planted the same hybrid or variety in the same field over several dates. But we have not planted corn past early June or soybeans past mid-June in most of these trials, and so had little to go on when more than half of the corn and some 80% of the soybeans couldn’t be planted until after June 1 this year.
To have a chance to make this work, we need yields along with planting date, hybrid/variety maturity rating, and yield, from a lot of fields, representing a range of planting dates from early (April) to very late (July). Getting ten or more of these from individual producers from their different fields would be great. Getting a hundred or more from a seed dealer, agronomist, or other retailer who work with numbers of farmers would be even better. We’d like to get these by the end of December, or any time before memory of this year’s harvest begins to fade.
One easy way to submit information for this is online, using the anonymous form found here. With only eight things to fill in (including county and crop), we think it will take only a minute or so to do this for a field, once planting and harvest dates are on hand. You can also fill out a form with information from a number of fields on the form found here: https://extension.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/2019plantingdateyieldsurvey.pdf. You can return this form as an email attachment, as a file or scan, or you can print and send it by U.S. Mail.
We’ve found a few cases in which information already submitted has “variable” as the field yield, sometimes with a low-to-high range. We don’t have a way to use such data. I suggest you leave out fields like this, or put in yield from a yield map (or a written estimate during harvest) from a uniform part of the field that you think represents the field.
Thanks in advance for helping to make this work. We have no funding for this work, but it’s important enough that we’re willing to put in the effort to make it work. We hope never to have a spring as wet as this last one, but if we do, having this information will give us a much better idea of how to deal with it and of what to expect.