photo courtesy cerbsen on Instagram

Spring planting is underway in some areas of the state.  It’s an interesting year because some of our farmers report being mostly done, while many haven’t even started due to wet weather and cooler temperatures.

Here’s what some of the farmers around the state are saying …

Andy Bartlow, Macomb: We are 75% done with corn planting and I would estimate our area is probably 85% planted.  Corn that was planted Easter weekend is up.

Bill Leigh, Minonk: We are about 20% done with corn planting. Not been much done in our area – maybe 5%.  Been too damp and cold in most areas.  My corn planted on Friday morning (4/17) is sprouted.

Don Duvall, Carmi: Only the highest sand fields are planted in our area in southeastern part of state.  All other fields are much too wet.   Probably less than 1% corn planted.

Paul Taylor, Esmond: I got the planter running Friday, April 17.  I planted a research plot Saturday.  Held off yesterday ahead of the cold weather this week.  Less than 5% planted in our area.  A lot of equipment just sitting, I assume for soil to warm-up.

Kent Kleinschmidt, Emden: I have planted nothing so far and I will start when it dries out.  We received .65 inches of rain in the last 24 hours.  Our area is about 10-15% planted.

Justin Durdan, Utica: We are 70% planted on corn. Last week we had the best planting and ground conditions we have seen in 3 years. Our area is far behind our normal pace, maybe at 5-10%. Some guys have not turned a planter wheel yet. Hope being aggressive was a good decision on our end…

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seedling in trashSome farmers in Illinois are finally getting started in the field – though most are having to wait for the field to dry out from all the spring rains.

In this field, the corn seedlings are growing through the “trash” left over from the corn field planted and harvested here the year before.  Leaving the corn stalks, leaves, and cobs on the field helps eliminate soil erosion and increases the organic matter of the soil.

This is also a good example of a corn-on-corn rotation.  Some farmers grow soybeans the year after the field has been planted to corn, but this farmer is experimenting with ways to make continuous corn on one field work for him AND the soil.


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Hey farming friends!

It’s me again, your favorite city girl here with a few more questions! I recently watched a video on the IL Corn YouTube channel! It was about Marty Marr, the Illinois Corn Grower’s Association’s District 10 director!  He was talking all about the farm he owns and works on and I just had a few more questions about farming life and some of the things he mentioned in the video!

1. Soybeans

He mentioned that he grows soybeans on his farm. I think soybeans are a popular vegetable grown here in the Midwest, correct me if I am wrong, and I was wondering why that is. What all can soybeans be used for other than eating purposes? Soybeans

2. Machine powered vs. man power

In the video Marty mentions about “doing it the old fashioned way”. I have no clue what he means by this and am wondering what tool he is holding in the video. He mentions snagging a weed, does this mean cleaning up the field or does it have a different meaning. Would you rather have your work done mostly by machines or hand done and why?Tractor in Field

3. Challenges and Rewards

My next question is what do you think the biggest challenges are as a farmer today? Again, I have never even set foot on a farm so I can’t imagine the struggles that come with working on one and I am very curious to find out. Along with the biggest challenge of working on a farm, what is the most rewarding thing about being a farmer?Farm Family

4. Life on the Farm

If you are living and working on a farm, do you use your own resources or are they just something you export. I assume that if you live on a farm that you are going to be supplying yourself with food that you’re personally growing. Is this true?

Can’t wait to see your answers to my questions and thank you for helping me get more knowledgeable about farming! Here is the link to the video and check back often for more videos, we are always posting!


Your favorite Chicago city girl


nikkiNikki Faber
Illinois State University

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It is getting to be that time of year again! Many farmers are out in their fields planting or getting ready to start planting. Which means tractors and other large farm equipment will be out on the roads.

Every year we hear of accidents occurring between motorist and farm equipment. These accidents can be prevented, here are four tips to help prevent an accident.

slow moving vehicle sign1. Slow Down!

The tractors are moving much slower than regular motorist. This means you will approach them much quicker than other traffic. As soon as you see them, you need to start slowing down.

2. Know your Surroundings.

This means, be mindful of your location. Know what kind of traffic is up ahead of you and the equipment, also be aware of the traffic that is behind you. You must also watch for drivers that are not being as patient. They may try to pass you and the equipment, or others may pull out in front of you and the equipment.

Be sure to also watch for turn signals or even hand signals from the driver in the tractor. He may be turning into a field entrance that you may not see or notice.

Tractor on the road3. Leave plenty of space between you and the equipment.

This includes when you are behind them waiting to pass and while passing them. If you can’t see the driver and his mirrors, he can’t see you. Also keep in mind they will need more space to turn.

4. Be Patient!

They are working hard and appreciate your patience. They are out doing their job of feeding the world.

And remember to always give a wave!


Hannah ZellerHannah Zeller
Communications Assistant

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clense foodsOn contrary to the belief, people like to believe that large corporations like Monsanto, Dupont, and Dow AgroSciences control the food market but that is not the case.  You and me are both consumers and we both choose what food we want to buy.  Our decisions have led food companies to create gluten free options, all-natural foods, and organic selections.  We, as consumers, control the market… not these big companies … but now are wanting to know more about where our food comes from.

A new bill in the United State Congress is the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.  This bill creates a mandatory Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling law as well as describes what it means to be all natural.  As a consumer, I am a little nervous about this bill.  It is really great to know what my food contains but to be completely honest, there are already too many labels on a o-FOOD-LABELS-facebookfood package as it is.  I become overwhelmed when there is too much information on a package.  On the package now, there is the mandatory calorie content label, maybe a label that talks about it being organic or gluten free, as well as the marketing labels that the company uses sell their product.

I understand why this labeling law is wanted.  People are wanting to know what is in their food but I don’t believe that is the actual driving factor of this bill.  The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act will prevent a patchwork of state labeling laws from increasing consumer confusion and food prices.  There are activists that are pushing labeling in more than 20 states.  The details of these mandates vary from state to state, meaning that farmers, food manufactures, and consumers would have to navigate a very complex system.  As consumers, we should be able to have the same packing of a product no matter if I buy it in New York City or Los Angeles.

A confusing bill is the Vermont labeling bill.  Vermont’s labeling law would exempt up to 2/3 of food sold in the state.  A can of vegetable soup would have to be labeled but a can of vegetable beef soup would be exempt.  State labeling does nothing to decrease consumer uncertainty, in fact it increases confusion.  An interesting study from Cornell University found that state labeling would result in a $500 increase per year for an average family of four.

In my opinion, I think it would be easier for food that doesn’t contain GMOs to be labeled.  It would be more affordable for consumers to buy food and it still requires GMO labels on products.  The consumers who are looking for GMO free food is a niche market and they are willing to pay higher for their food.  Labeling are confusing to consumers and we need to limit labels to minimum.

perryPerry Harlow
Illinois State University student

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but we have livestock

You’ve probably never really thought about it, but livestock farmers don’t get to take vacations.  Livestock need fed and watered, milked and tended every single day of the year – sometimes twice a day!

Until you have a son or daughter old enough to take over the chores for you or a neighbor that likes you a whole lot, you don’t get to take a vacation!

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Directed and Produced by James Moll

This film is a documentary about the daily life of six young diverse farmers and ranchers in America.

This documentary is intended for a non-farming audience, and is intended to link the disconnection between the farmer and the consumer. It is intended to inform consumers on where their food comes from and how it gets from farm to table.

James Moll, director and producer of the film, got the idea from wondering where his food came from while shopping. He admitted that we live in a world where we are flooded with opinions on what you should eat and what you should avoid.

Throughout this documentary the farmers talk about their daily lives, tasks, concerns and struggles. Each farmer is very different from the last, but many of their concerns share the same bottom line, which is public perception.

farmlandIn the public’s eyes farmers are stereotyped as either, the man with the red barn, some animals, coveralls and the straw hanging out of his mouth, or as the person who runs a large corporation, just sitting behind and desk and has no connection to the farm.

All six of these farmers are neither of those descriptions. While this is just one issue of public perception, the farmers also talk about things such as GMOs vs. organics, animal welfare and consumer trust. All of which are currently important topics in society.

The film is successful in discussing each issue and explaining in a simplistic way for everyone to understand. I believe that anyone who is truly paying attention to the film, will have a better understanding about the food they purchase and where it comes from. Ultimately people can make their own conclusions for what they buy, but after watching this film it is easy to see that we [America] are fortunate to have a very safe source for our food.

I was impressed with the diversity of the farmers in the film, but was disappointed with the representation. Two out of the six farmers were organic farmers in the film. While this was great for diversity purposes, it is not a true representation of the ratio of organic to conventional farmers in America.

Overall, I found the film to very informative and interesting. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in learning more about today’s farmers.


Hannah ZellerHannah Zeller
Communication Assistant

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