Driving across Illinois on I-70 last week, I spotted field after field with what I thought I recognized as Wild Mustard weeds growing among last fall's corn stalks. As I drove further east into Bond County and then on through Effingham County, I almost had myself convinced I was seeing blooming canola fields. From the Interstate, the thick growth of yellow-flowered plants appeared to be planted in rows.
But alas, I called a farmer friend from the area and he assured me the yellow "fields" were indeed what many refer to as Yellow Top, or Wild Mustard.
The weeds appeared to be growing in rows because they had come up from seed in no-till corn fields and had grown tall enough that you could not see the buckled corn stalks. Wet conditions had kept farmers out of the fields so burn down had not yet begun.
I asked my farmer friend about burn down and he said, "Well, we're going to have to look at them for a while because they are a big plant and it takes a while to go down."
I pulled off at the Vandalia, Illinois exit to photograph a field of wild mustard that will - hopefully - be a soybean field later this year.