Issue No. 6, Article 10/May 1, 2009
After a week of inactivity, conditions finally improved last weekend and we had 2 to 3 days of good conditions for field work. Many farmers in the region were able to take advantage of the break to get corn planted. However, Monday the rains came back in force. Some neighborhoods are now over 50% planted for corn. Some early-planted fields have been in the ground for over 2 weeks and show no sign of emergence.
Henbit is in full bloom. Winter annuals in general are doing very well.
Field activity has been at a standstill since Sunday, April 25, due to numerous precipitation events. Some corn has been planted, but total acres are only minimal throughout the northern region. The 2009 planting delays have become very similar to 2008, and with the wet soils and poor drying conditions they will continue at least through the end of the week. There have been scattered but not widespread reports of winterkill in alfalfa. Winter wheat for the most part looks good throughout the area.
Extension educators reported "intense" black cutworm moth flights on April 26-27 in Grundy, Lee, Winnebago, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties.
Four days of sunshine and warm weather allowed many producers to get into the fields. Anhydrous ammonia and herbicide applications, tillage operations, and corn planting were all done at breakneck speed until being shut down by rain again on Monday afternoon.
Wheat development also accelerated with the increase in temperatures; it now ranges from Feekes 9 (ligule of flag leaf just visible) to Feekes 10 (boot stage). Remember that the cut-off for strobilurin fungicide applications is Feekes 10.5 (flower initiation). As wheat flowers, the risk of Fusarium head blight (head scab) will become a greater concern. Wet weather and moderate temperatures before, during, and immediately after flowering will increase the likelihood of this disease. The web-based Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center can help wheat growers monitor the potential for scab development.
Alfalfa growth ranges from 23 to 25 inches in height and is quickly approaching bud stage. Harvest for dairy-quality alfalfa will need to begin as soon as weather and field conditions permit. Cooperators throughout the state monitor alfalfa development in order to predict optimum cutting timing and report their findings on the Illinois PEAQ website (peaq.traill.uiuc.edu). Alfalfa weevil damage has been variable, with many fields in the extreme south being treated with an insecticide, while those farther north have had little or no damage yet.
Musk thistles in pastures and waterways will begin bolting in the next week or so. For optimum control and to limit seed production, herbicides need to be applied before flower formation initiates.
Some areas in the southern edge of the region--from Taylorville to Quincy--were able to get some fertilizer applications made and a little corn planting done late last week into Saturday. This amounts to only about 3% of the acreage in the region. Most of the area received from 1 to 2-1/2 inches of rain from Saturday night through Monday, and more rain is predicted later in the week, so not much work will get done this week.
The warmer temperatures have gotten the wheat and pastures to start growing rapidly. Wheat fields are between Feekes 3 and 7 across the region.