SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Farmers in central Illinois estimate they're as much as seven weeks behind in their harvest as unusually cold and wet weather has prevented them from bringing in their crops.

More agreeable weather this week has farmers scurrying to take advantage, running their combines well into the evening.

"We're probably going to kick it up a notch then to where you don't even know your name," said Dan Neuman, who farms 2,500 acres near Springfield.

Almost 80 percent of the state's corn crop has matured, but only 11 percent has been harvested, agriculture officials said. More than 90 percent of Illinois soybeans are ready, but only 13 percent have been pulled in.

Above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures kept moisture levels in crops high and meant only two days last week were suitable for field work, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The temperature averaged about 43 degrees last week -- 12 degrees below normal -- and rainfall was above average.

"This is the latest I've ever harvested in 20 years," said Marty Mau, who farms 800 acres outside Springfield. "We started two weeks ago, but had to keep quitting because the moisture level in the corn was too high."

Soybeans are a priority for many farmers right now because ripe ones have gotten wet and dried out so much that pods are dropping beans to the ground, he said.

Neuman said it's likely he'll still be harvesting in December and working in the fields preparing for the winter right up to Christmas.

Corn and bean yields still look "respectable" -- about 181 bushels of corn per acre and 60 to 65 bushels of beans, Sangamon County Farm Bureau manager Jim Birge said.

Motorists should be especially aware of farm implements, particularly at dusk or after dark on two-lane roads.

"People just need to be patient and cautious," Birge said.


Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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