Illinois Farm Pushes Envelope on Planting Date; Pays Off in Yields

Illinois farmer Steve Pitstick planted beans on March 22. Despite snow covering the beans two days later, those fields still yield 86 bushels per acre. ( Farm Journal )

It was a prime start to the 2018 growing season for northern Illinois farmers. Maple Park, Ill. farmer Steve Pitstick can attest to that. He witnessed near-record emergence as Mother Nature cooperated in the spring. However, weather flipped in the summer months, turning dry.

“Just like every other year there was always an event or two that cost us something,” he said. “We had a couple of four inch rains and then about three weeks of dry weather. It turns out we have really good crops; not records by any means.”

Harvest has been pretty smooth for Pitstick this year, with only about a week of wet weather keeping them out of the field. With only a few days left of harvest this year, he’s seeing the dryness this summer took the top-end off his yields.

Pitstick said both corn and soybean yields are hitting under the whole-farm average yield he saw in 2017, but said this year’s crops are still “good.” It’s soybean yields in some of his earliest planted fields that are performing the best this year.

“I believe it was the 22nd of March,” said Pitstick who reflected back on when he planted soybeans this year. “A couple inches of snow fell just a couple days after, and we still had a yield of 86 [bushels per acre].”

Planting on March 22 is a rare sight on any farm north of Interstate 80 in Illinois. The weather can be unpredictable, which Pitstick saw as snow covered his freshly-planted soybeans. Considering those fields still yielded 86 bushels per acre, Pitstick is going to try planting some fields earlier than March 22 next year.

“Will you point that early again?” asked Tyne Morgan, U.S. Farm Report host. “Maybe earlier; we’re just going to try some things,” said Pitstick.