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Wind, rain, and fungus put a damper on 2021 record harvest projections, but above-average season still expected

Corn Harvest
Seth Perlman/AP
Central Illinois farmers continue to harvest harvest their corn crops as the sun sets Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Berlin, Ill. The corn and soybean harvests are well underway in the Midwest and helped by excellent weather conditions. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

A couple months ago, agriculture experts were predicting a record high corn harvest.

But that's no longer the case. Peoria County Farm Bureau manager Patrick Kirchhofer said windier conditions were one of the problems.

"There is some lodged corn. And that has affected the yield. And also, a fairly new disease called 'tar spot' has hit," Kirchhofer said. "Especially the fields that were not sprayed with fungicide. And that's really knocked off some of the yield, as well."

Kirchhofer said soybeans are doing better, with more consistent yields than corn this harvest season. But even those weren't impervious to the weather.

"On hillsides, more clay ground, it's yielding better than the flat area that was impacted by too much rain," he said.

Nick Roth, a pumpkin farmer in Morton, said moisture was also a big factor in his yields this year.

"Originally, at the beginning of the pumpkin season, we were kinda droughty and needed rain, and then we started to get rain, and we just got some significant amounts all at once," Roth said.

Roth said he lucked out by dodging the worst of the flooding, and ended up with a good harvest that eluded some other farmers this year.

"We did have some rains over the summer, and rain makes grain," said Kirchhofer. "But we did have a couple episodes this year that did knock off the top-end yields on both corn and soybeans."

As of Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service said 41 percent of the corn crop was harvested, with 50 percent rated good quality and 20 percent deemed excellent. The soybean harvest was 32 percent completed, and rated 50 percent good and 22 percent excellent.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.
Olivia Streeter is an intern at WCBU. The Illinois State University student joined WCBU in 2020.