Rain thwarts corn planting

Continuing rain is keeping Andy Goleman from finishing his corn planting in Divernon, Ill. (Photo courtesy Andy Goleman)
Continuing rain is keeping Andy Goleman from finishing his corn planting in Divernon, Ill. (Photo courtesy Andy Goleman)

In his three decades of farming, Andy Goleman has never seen a planting season quite like this one.   The 49- year-old central Illinois farmer has measured 16 ½ inches of rain since the first of April, including a substantial amount over the Memorial Day Weekend.  

A post on his Facebook page on Monday read “Total rainfall for the Memorial Day Weekend is 3.2 inches, just what we did not need now.”

The fallout? Now approaching June, Goleman has only planted about 40 percent of his 450 acres of corn. Before this year, the latest he ever got his corn crop in was May 20 during another wet spring four years ago.  

“I’m not very comfortable right now. And the farmers around me in southern Sangamon County are all in the same boat,” Goleman said.

Actually, Goleman’s planting progress is well below the average of farmers in Illinois and other Midwestern states. Those who made progress did so working around intermittent showers.  Goleman had the misfortune being in a locale that also got hit with a couple of inches of rain early last week, keeping him out of the fields.

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released Tuesday, shows that nearly 86 percent of the corn crop has been planted and that figure is close to 90 percent in Goleman’s home state. Last year at this time, 99 percent of the corn had been planted.  

Because of this year’s planting delay, Goleman and other farmers are looking at the potential for lower yields, and perhaps crop insurance to cover replanting some of what is already in the ground.

“We’ll lose some yield; anything we plant now won’t reach its full potential,” Goleman said. Still, he said most of his planted corn is in good shape, except for the areas where water is standing.

If Goleman doesn’t get the corn in the ground by June 5, he won’t get full insurance coverage.  The crop insurance benefits then decrease for each day beyond that date the corn is planted. Farmers  could also opt out of planting corn after the deadline and take a smaller insurance payout.

Goleman expects to “plant around the ponds” when he gets back in the field, which he said will be at least a week barring another barrage from the sky.  

In the meantime, he is taking care of duties related to his work on the county board, making sure the equipment is ready to go — and getting in a lot of mowing.  Along with manically checking the rain gauge.