Illinois Wheat Tour reveals good potential for 100-bushel yields

Several Illinois farmers could harvest 100+ bushel wheat this year.

The Illinois Winter Wheat tour this week collected data from 57 fields across 19 counties in the southern half of the state. Illinois Wheat Association Executive Director Megan Dieken tells Brownfield a variety of yields were estimated using tiller and spikelet counts.

“St. Clair County came in with a 76.08 estimated yield and the highest estimate was in Hamilton County with 143.27. The average yield for all the counties that we came to find was 97.12.”

Based on tour results, farmers in the southeast corner have the best potential to reach or exceed 100 bpa this year.

Don Guinnip farms row crops on the Illinois/Indiana border and joined the tour this year to see how winter wheat is looking further south and west in the state. He tells Brownfield a dryer spring has resulted in less disease and insect pressure.

“Things look really good. I think the prospects for this year’s wheat crop are as good as I’ve seen in the last 20 or 30 years. My fields at home are representative of what we’re seeing today and if we get one more rain shower before wheat harvest, we’re going to have an outstanding wheat crop in this part of South Central Illinois.”

Dieken says they made updates to their data collection and yield estimation system this year with the goal of generating more accurate results. Last year’s tour predicted a 68 bushel per acre average yield and the USDA reported a 79-bushel state average in 2022. This year’s tour estimate of 97 bushels compares to USDA’s current prediction of 78 bushels per acre.

But Guinnip says time will tell, as he expects to begin harvest between June 10th and 15th. “Depending on the weather. If we don’t get any rain in the next couple of weeks, this maturity date is going to jump up pretty quick. But if we get a shower, I would say the 15th to 20th will get most of the wheat harvest in our area.”

The USDA predicts Illinois will harvest 790,000 acres of winter wheat this year, up more than 200,000 acres from 2022. Illinois was the 6th largest winter wheat producing state in 2022 and is expected to jump up to 4th this year due to a smaller crop in Idaho and drought driving down production in Oklahoma.  

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