Never before has so much corn been planted so soon in Illinois. Forty-one percent of the projected corn crop is in the ground, a record for this week since the USDA started keeping track in the 1950s. This is up from 17 percent last week. Last year at this time, only 8 percent of the corn was planted.
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Crop statistician Brad Schwab says the big move was the passing of the date beyond which crops are insured. “On April 6, that’s when farmers could actually start planting and still be covered by [insurance] if there were a frost or whatever and they needed to re-plant, so a lot of farmers were holding up for that, and once they reached that, then they really got busy,” he said. Schwab says the clement weather since March allowed farmers to prepare their fields, and once the starting gun sounded, the planting got going. There was some frost last week, Schwab says, but damage was minimal. The publication of the weekly crop progress and weather report was delayed by one day due to a fire at USDA headquarters in Washington.