Corn class gets high grades at Monmouth test farm

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There's a positive outlook for the corn crop in western Illinois and eastern Iowa. That's the view from Field Day at the University of Illinois Research and Demonstration Center.

As dozens of farmers step off a school bus parked in a field Wednesday, the Monmouth test farm is a busy place.

"It's a big crop coming, I think," said Rich Fleischer.

Fleischer isn't just a face in the crowd. The Knoxville farmer grows corn over 1,400 acres.

"The sunlight like we're getting today is a tremendous plus to that corn crop," he said.

It's an upbeat view after a challenging start to the growing season. Wet weather delayed spring planting and forced farmers to wait for better conditions.

"Maybe a little frustrating," Fleischer said. "We stood on the sidelines for seemingly quite a while before we were able to get back and get in the fields."

Despite the late planting, two-thirds of the Illinois corn crop rates good to excellent. In Iowa, more than half the corn is good to excellent.

"A dry stretch like this isn't a bad thing at all," said Dr. Emerson Nafziger, an agronomist with the University of Illinois. "It tends to limit the spread of diseases."

A crops specialist, Dr. Nafziger tends to like what he sees. These corn plants will likely pollinate next week. Despite some heat stress, it's nothing like the 2012 drought.

"With the weather the way it's been, and with good soil moisture, we expect normal development," he continued.

That's good news for farmers like Rich Fleischer. He's banking on a solid season -- one that could provide a bountiful harvest.

"We have some real potential," he concluded.

At this test farm, lessons about growing they'll take back to the combines.

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