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!

 

 

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

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