THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

“When I was younger and it would rain in the summer, my brothers, the neighbors down the road, and I, would swim in the ditches,” I recently told a friend I met in college.

“Wow, you are country,” was her response.

It was at that moment where I started to think about the differences between growing up in the country compared to growing up in town.  The lifestyles are completely different and as my peers become older, I personally notice the positive impact of being raised in the country. It seems to me that my peers from the same background as myself are laid back, and not afraid of a little grease under the fingernails.   While in college, I’ve become friends with individuals who were raised in the city, and I have since been able to experience their way of living. Their lifestyle is so different as they always seem to be on-the-go while keeping up with the latest trends on the street.  Side note: According to my childhood scrapbooks, keeping up with fashion was not something that ever interested me.  Thanks to my mom for allowing me to wear my cut-off jeans made into shorts, and over the ankle leather lace up boots with white socks peeking out of the top.

Growing up in the country is a fond memory, and one that I will never forget.  During my childhood, my brothers and I would play hide-and-go-seek in the cornfield, we would walk through the large tunnels at the end of the asphalt road (it was especially fun when we would lay on top of the tunnels and look at each other from opposite ends), and we would climb the wobbly wooden steps up to the hayloft in the barn just to hangout.  My three brothers were my best friends.  My greatest summer accomplishments would be to replace last years’ kiddie tractor pull trophies with new ones from local festivals, and county and state fairs, and our family vacation location depended on where my dad would be showing his antique tractors.

In the country, you’ve got to make do with that you have.  When the closest ‘big town’ is twenty miles away, a trip to town was something to look forward to for days to come.  Transportation included our bicycles that got us half a mile down the road, and sometimes if we promised to stay together we could take a long ride to grandma’s house three miles away (three miles is a long way when you’re eight years old). The individuals who I argued with, laughed with, and relied upon were my family.

After nineteen years of calling home “the middle of nowhere,” it was my time to move to college. I still remember the day I was with a friend and she saw a combine and had no idea what this “large vehicle” was, or why it was “running over the plants.”  While I’ve had the opportunity to experience both lifestyles, I look back and realize how blessed I was to grow up in the country.  My background has helped me to become the hard working individual who I am today, while learning to appreciate the small things in life.

While my friends in the city describe the country life as boring, there’s just something indescribable about sitting on the back porch looking at nothing but cornfields and bean fields for miles.

Abby Coers
U of I Graduate

EFFECTS OF DROUGHT

Everyone has heard about the drought this year and how it is the widest spread since 1956.  For those people not living on a farm, it’s hard to comprehend what the lack of rainfall and high heat means beyond the brown grass in your yard.  When you combine these two things together, this is what you end up with… very sorry looking corn.

drought stricken corn

For more pictures, visit our Flickr account, and you can share your drought photos with us on the IL Corn Facebook page!

 

 

APPLE WEEK

Did you know that the second week of August is apple week?  There are so many things to know about this delicious fruit, perhaps some of these little known facts will surprise you!

  • The beauty of apples is all their flavors; the United States only has one third of the varieties of apples found throughout the world.
  • Apples are versatile and can be used in a variety of savory and sweet dishes as well as enjoyed all on their own.
  • Apples are grown in all 50 states.
  • Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States.  Oranges are first.
  • A bushel of apples weighs about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce.
  • Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated.

To celebrate apple week, I made apple enchiladas last night.  A quick and easy recipe, that the whole family with love!  

  • 1 quart bag of frozen apples (You can also use a 21 ounce can of apple pie filling)
  • 6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water1
  1. Spoon about one heaping quarter cup of pie filling evenly down the center of each tortilla.
  2. Sprinkle with cinnamon; roll up, tucking in edges; and place seam side down in a buttered dish.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
  4. Pour sauce over enchiladas and let stand 45 minutes.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until golden.
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy apple week and share with us your favorite apple recipes!

 

 

CONSUMER PROTECTION ALERT!

I came across this video from HumaneWatch today.  While it’s not new, it’s definitely worth sharing.

Did you know that CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) reissued HSUS’s “D” rating in December 2011, finding that HSUS spends as little as 49 percent of its budget on its programs?  Additionally, the 2011 Animal People News Watchdog Report discovered that HSUS spends about 43 percent of its budget on overhead costs.  Keep that in mind the next time you consider donating to HSUS!

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: 2012 CORN EDITION

The good: Most of Illinois got some rain this weekend! Nearly 2 inches reported in some parts of the state.

The bad: That storm also produced some brutal 50mph winds, knocking down many acres of corn in the southern part of the state.

The ugly: Corn after the storm.

A few farmers are beginning to harvest their corn already. So far, there have been reports of yields ranging from 0-130 bushels per acre at best. ICMB board member Jim Raben has been hearing of yields between 0 and 40 bushels per acre in non-irrigated fields and higher yields of about 130 bushel in irrigated fields. On average, most southern Illinois counties are expecting a 50 bu/acre yield.

Yield isn’t the only number farmers are keeping an eye on. Early harvest brings with it the threat of high moisture ratings. Of those farmers beginning harvest early, the current range is 18-30% moisture. Grain elevators want to see corn coming in at less than 15% moisture, so this means more drying cost and/or premium reduction for these farmers.

If nothing else, this year has been a prime example of the volatile nature of being a crop farmer. No matter how much time, money, and work a farmer puts into their crop, the weather gets the final say in how productive a field will be. Last year, farmers were celebrating yields approaching 200 bushels per acre, and this year most are just hoping for their average to be 50 bushels per acre! Calling this a “tough year for corn farmers” seems to be an understatement throughout most of the Midwest.

Interested in seeing more drought pictures?  Check out our flickr page, here.

Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant ICGA/ICMB

RESOURCES

Looking for social media about agriculture?  Check out these great resources that focus on everything you need to know about agriculture.  Whether you’re a farmer or not from a farm background this compiled list has everything you are looking for.

Ag Everyday: This is an exceptional FACEBOOK page.  It is great for all ages to explore different agricultural topics. It appeals to not only farmers but to also urban families.  It includes fun recipes, facts, and hot topics about agriculture.

Keeping it Real: Through the lens of a Farm Girl:  This is a unique FACEBOOK page that focuses on incorporating photography with current agriculture issues.   The beautiful pictures aren’t only fun to look at but are educational.

She’s Country: This FACEBOOK page appeals to women all over who have a little bit of country in them.  It includes facts, recipes, and conversation threads to include all women.

FBlog: Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau this blog is great for the public to learn and discuss today’s leading topics in agriculture.  It covers all agriculture topics and is a great read.

Illinois Farm Families Blog: This website is great for city mom’s looking to see where their food comes from.  This fun website features different farmers, agriculture issues, facts about farming, and allows the opportunity to start and comment on different agriculture related discussions.

Farm Progress: This website features local and national farm news.  This is an informational news site that provides current facts about what is going on in today’s agriculture.  A mobile app is available for on the go information.

I’m Farming and I Grow It: This YouTube video is for our younger generation.  This fun music parody gives insight to the life of an active farmer and promotes agriculture.  Follow the Peterson Farm Brother to see their other fun videos.

USDA YouTube Channel:  The United States Department of Agriculture has a great channel of movies that interview farmers, discuss current issues in agriculture, and give informative footage on all different types of agriculture.

Remember, for FACEBOOK pages, you can “like” them to continue receiving their posts and for blogs you can “subscribe” or “follow” to continue reading.

Alyssa Kabureck and Leah Wilkening
Illinois Corn Summer Interns

WHAT’S IN A RIN?

I’m pretty sure that even if the skies opened up today and we were blessed with a warm, gentle, steady rain for three or four days, corn growers would benefit only from release from the necessity of expensive irrigation.  To say it another way, it was too hot and too dry for too long, for there to be any hope of a good corn harvest in much of the corn-growing part of the U.S.

All the quotable experts I can find are pretty well agreed on an interesting development out of the virtually certain corn harvest shortage.  These experts seem to agree that relaxing the production requirements of the ethanol industry – speaking here of the Renewable Fuel Standards – would actually have little effect on available corn this year.

One of those experts is at the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, at Iowa State University.  Professor Bruce Babcock analyzed 500 scenarios, assuming varying levels of corn yield this year.  He’s concluded a total waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard would reduce corn prices by less than 5%, and bring about less than 5% reduction in Ethanol production.

These modest results, says Professor Babcock, result from flexibilities in complying with Renewable Fuels Standard in 2012 and 2013. Specifically, he notes an estimated 2.4 billion excess Renewable Identification Numbers can be used in place of physical gallons to demonstrate RFS compliance.  I have to assume that Renewable Identification Numbers won’t propel your vehicle, but they say it will satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency, custodian of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

I had to look up the definition of RIN, or Renewable Identification Numbers, and here it is:  It’s a renewable fuel credit – a serial number assigned to each gallon of renewablefuel as it is introduced into U.S. commerce. RINs are tracked all through the supply chain until the biofuel is  blended with petroleum products.  Once the renewable fuel is in the blended fuel, the RIN is separated and becomes available as an environmental credit.  So Help Me, that’s the verbatim definition.

All of this is to say, of course, that ethanol production is not about to make a bad situation worse for, for example, livestock production.  Bob Dineen, CEO of Renewable Fuels Association says, “Strong supplies of ethanol in storage and an abundance of RINs combine to make the Renewable Fuel Standard a workable program in 2012 and 2013” .  He goes on to say, “ The ethanol industry, like any other end user of corn, understands {the weather-related concerns} and the industry has significantly reduced its corn consumption in recent weeks.  There will be corn available this fall, and the market will ration its use.”

I think right about here is the point at which we try to remember that Renewable Fuel is intended to wean us from petroleum produced other than in North America.  And there are costs associated with that – – including escalating prices on a weather-ravaged crop.

Karl Guenther is a retired farm broadcaster at WKZO and can be reached at khguenther@att.net. He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

You can view the originally published article, here.

EVALUATE THE ILLINOIS CORN CROP FOR YOURSELF

The University of Illinois’ Todd Gleason did a crop tour last weekend to see the status of the Illinois corn crop for himself.  In case you haven’t been following, the drought situation in Illinois and in most of the U.S. has effected the corn crop, as well as many other crops, and has speculators speculating about how much corn will actually be harvested this fall and whether that yield will be enough to go around.

Corn prices are spiking as a result.  Livestock farmers are calling for a waiver of our country’s ethanol mandate to eliminate competition for corn.  Foreign nations are checking in with Illinois farmers to make sure there will corn for them to purchase.  Media outlets are preying on misinformation and scaring the American public about federal crop insurance programs.

It’s getting ugly.

But when Gleason drove through corn country, some of the best corn producing counties in the state, what he found wasn’t quite as scary as what we all thought.

After watching his video, you might want to view the following photos in more depth. The points on the map coorespond to the photos in the collage.

The moral of the story here is that no one is going to know what yields look like until we actually get the combines out and harvest.  Yes, the drought will have an effect.  Yes, the GMO varieties that farmers plant most of will help the plants weather the storm so to speak.  Yes, farmers are typically a little pessimistic about crop yields in bad seasons, but who wouldn’t be?  They have hours of labor, thousands and thousands of dollars, and their entire livelihood waiting on this crop.

I look forward to the fall months when we can finally put this year behind us and when, I hope, we will all be pleasantly surprised with what we find.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director