Farmer says southern Illinois specialty crop conditions are mixed

A southern Illinois farmer says specialty crop conditions are a mixed bag this season.

Steve Borcherding grows sweet corn, peaches, and strawberries with his wife Karen in Iuka. He tells Brownfield an early summer drought challenged their sweet corn. “But with some timely irrigation and other management practices, we’ve been pretty fortunate to have a fairly high quality crop, thus far.”

He says their latest concern for the sweet corn is an invasion of sap beetles. “They tend to start stripping the husk at the tip of the ear to try to get into the kernels and can ruin ears in a matter of 12 to 24 hours.”

Without an effective irrigation method during the June drought, he says they only produced about 40% of their normal peach crop. “The dry weather resulted in small, low quality fruit this year that were not marketable this season, which was unfortunate.”

But Borcherding says he is optimistic about their newest patch of strawberries. “We got those set and the result is some pretty nice looking matted rows that are pretty much disease free, so we’re pretty excited about the potential of this strawberry crop next spring.”

Borcherding also grows field corn and soybeans in Marion County.  

*Photo of sap beetle damage to sweet corn provided by Steve Borcherding

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