Corn planting in Illinois expected to drop slightly

By WEEK Producer

April 5, 2013 Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 6:50 PM CDT

PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. -- Dunlap farmer Gary Pullen was testing some equipment Friday as he prepared to plant this year's corn crop.

Pullen rotates his crops, which means some years he doesn't plant as much corn.

"Rotation has been good to us over the years," said Pullen. "We've had less disease pressure and our yields are very good, if not better than the continuous corn farmer."

Nationally however the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects more corn to be planted this year - over 97-million acres, the most since 1936 - and about 6-percent more than in 2011.

"I think its just demand. Corn has gotten so high that its been extremely profitable," Pullen explained. "They're bringing acres in that probably shouldn't be farmed or they're switching acres down south from cotton and soybeans to corn. We're seeing the cornbelt growing but it will retract should corn drop turn to 4 or 5 dollars and acre I think."

But Illinois isn't following the national trend. Corn planting in our state is expected to be slightly lower this year. The manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau says there's a reason for that.

Some corn acres in Illinois seem to be shifting back to soybean acres," said Patrick Kirchhofer. "In the last 10 years our trend has been more corn acres and that trend seems to be reversing a little bit this upcoming season."

Kirchhoffer adds that planting soybeans one year can boost corn yields the next, since soybeans add nitrogen to the soil and help fight insect and disease cycles.