PEORIA, Ill. — Despite a slow start and dry end, this past growing season met or exceeded yield expectations, said seed company representatives at the Greater Peoria Farm Show.

Heavy rains rolled into Illinois in late May delaying planting and resulting in re-plants.

Rod Parkinson, Wyffels Hybrids district sales manager in Knox and Peoria counties, said his area had six to 10 inches of rain the last 10 days of May pushing planting into June.

“With that being said, the yields just came through tremendously,” he said. “I believe the cool weather we had in August really helped with all of the dryness and helped get us through that tough period.

“There were a lot of re-plants around June 9 to June 12, and the late-planted corn really did phenomenal. All of it got black layer, and as far as I know, most of it got to about 25 (percent) to 26 percent, so it was manageable at harvest time and yields were very good on the replant corn.”

“From a corn yield standpoint, I think, overall everything went as expected or better than expected from any seed company for the most part,” said David Murphy, LG Seeds resource manager in central Illinois.

“Everyone was pretty happy with their yields, but there were small geographic areas that also had their own issues. For the most part, everyone had a wet spring and then dry later in the growing season.”

“Soybeans were kind of a mixed bag due primarily to planting date. Those that were able to get some soybeans in before we got shut down with rain at the end of May had some very good yields. As we went later and later in June to plant, as expected, those yield started to drop off on those products,” he said.

“A lot of what we saw is the earlier-planted stuff had a little bit of yield advantage compared to what was planted in later June and the late-planted stuff struggled,” said Clay Edwards, Stone Seed northern Illinois regional sales manager.

“Earlier soybean maturities were a little stronger than some of the fuller season stuff, but a lot of that was probably due to the planting date and the weather conditions that we had.”

The seed company representatives didn’t see any crop disease concerns this past season, but there were pockets of heavy rootworm pressure.

“From a disease pressure standpoint, once we got past the wet part of the growing season, we actually did really well. We have several hybrids in our corn lineup that respond really well to sidedress nitrogen and fungicide,” Edwards said.

“We saw some big yield advantages off of that. Our SmartStax, which is our two below ground modes of action — kind of our best product portfolio to protect against corn rootworm pressure — all of those performed very well,” he said.

“I would say disease was a little bit lower than normal, and that was a nice bonus. It ended up being so dry, and we just didn’t have a lot of anthracnose or gray leaf spot,” Parkinson said.

“Rootworms were heavier in pockets. It was more so on some of that long-term continuous corn where there had been a problem in the past.

“When you get to eastern Illinois, I think, they definitely had some more issues. It really wasn’t a huge problem for us in Peoria County, but there were some pockets of it.”

In looking toward next year, the seed representatives are excited about the newest offerings their respective companies have for customers.

“We’re really confident in our lineup. We have a lot of new products coming down the lineup to fill in some gaps in maturity levels,” Edwards said. “Overall we’re very, very satisfied with our performance this year, and a lot of that we have to attest to our people who work for us.”

“We have a very strong sales staff and a lot of support from our corporate structure, and we try to live and work hard by our motto of we live here, we farm here and we know Illinois,” Edwards said.

Parkinson and Murphy concur that SmartStax will play a key role in next season’s cropping plans.

“Looking at next year, industrywide, I think, there’s a strong switch to the SmartStax varieties,” Murphy said.

“We’ve seen rootworm pressure pop up, and it was very damaging in areas throughout central and north-central Illinois in places that we had never seen it before, so SmartStax is going to be a good management tool as we go forward, and there are a lot of companies bringing new SmartStax varieties including LG Seeds.

“We have a new (SmartStax) that we introduced last year. This will be its second year, and (it) had extremely good yield in addition to the trait package.”

“We’re extremely excited about the new products coming out next year. I’ve been here 10 years, and I think we have the best lineup we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been here,” Parkinson said.

“A couple of products that really standout includes 7888, the new 113-day SmartStax that’s done very well in the first trials and all of the third-party plots. We have a new 110-day — 6628 — that’s done phenomenal.

“We have a very well-rounded package with VT Triple Pro and SmartStax and we’re probably one of few companies that’s bringing out new non-GMO numbers and we’re excited about that.”

“The non-GMO market has grown by 35 percent at Wyffels in one year,” Murphy said.

Murphy also predicts a continued trend toward more soybean acres in 2014.

“Overall, looking at how we’re going to manage our acres next year, I’ve seen a slight switch away from corn more to 50-50 rotation and I saw a large switch last year. There will be smaller switch this year of moving corn acres to soybeans, I think, primarily due to commodity prices,” he said.

“The soybeans have had strong prices this fall. As guys are making their plans for next spring, that’s one of the key factors that they’re looking at in the profitability.”