WATCH OUT FOR SLOW MOVING VEHICLES!

If you live in a rural area, you may have noticed the rapid onset of harvest. While the first week of September is definitely historically early to begin harvest, I can assure you that once those farmers get out in the fields and get a taste of harvest, there will be no stopping them until every last grain and oilseed is reaped.

For the rest of us in Illinois, that means it’s time to slow down and be more cautious for slow moving farm equipment.

Farm safety is a great lesson any time of year to be sure. For livestock farmers especially who conduct mostly the same activities year round, the risks aren’t necessarily elevated during planting and harvest. And there are always these sorts of accidents that happen regardless of the season, so being careful is always imperative.

But for the rest of us, those of us that live in town and forget that we are surrounded by hard working men and women trying to get the crop out in the fall, spring and fall are important times to remember to be cautious and careful.

Drivers in slow moving vehicles can’t always see your compact car trying to pass them. Farmers attempt to avoid high traffic areas and high traffic times of day, but weather and crops are tricky business and harvesting certain fields isn’t always feasible after 5 pm or on the weekend.

Do your best to be wary and remind your family (especially teenage drivers) to be extra careful as well. Check out the media’s coverage of Eureka, IL efforts to educate their teenage drivers about the necessity of using extra caution this time of year.

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell

ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FARMING 101: PICKING SWEET CORN

Sweet corn is by far one of the most popular summer veggies! Have you ever wondered how the sweet corn you’re eating for dinner got to your plate? Yesterday, a couple of us from the IL Corn office were granted a day in the sweet corn field with a couple of Northern Illinois farmers. We picked approximately 1,500 ears of sweet corn that were donated to a food pantry.

As our morning began we asked farmers, Jim and John, for a quick overview of the sweet corn picking process. While they have been picking sweet corn their whole lives it was difficult for them to describe the art of their technique. We all began working and before long we were covered in mud and sweat along with cuts on our hands from the corn stalks. However, we all had a great time and were reminded the importance of our job promoting the agricultural industry!
Jim and John’s sweet corn fields were planted in late May and early June. While the weather in Illinois has been challenging this year the sweet corn crop was a success.

While every farmer has his own twist as to when the sweet corn is ready they typically revolve back to feeling the ear. The ear should feel full and complete all the way up to the top.

If you are just beginning your picking adventure it is important to pull the shucks back a little ways to check the kernels. This is usually done by puncturing the kernel and checking for a milky juice substance.

The sweet corn ear is then ready to be removed from the stalk. Simply pull the ear in a downward motion until it is disconnected.

Due to different maturity rates and to track your progress, it is often helpful to stomp down the stalk after you have picked the sweet corn.

Many sweet corn farmers feel that raw sweet corn fresh off of the stalk is the best and simply irresistible! Therefore, it is not uncommon for water and corn breaks on a sunny day on the farm.

The sweet corn that is left is gathered and sent to your local farmer’s market or grocery store. After a little cooking on the stove, grill, or even microwave the corn is then placed on your dinner plate! Bon Appétit!

Kelsey Vance
ICMB/ICGA Intern
University of Illinois student

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY

Many farmers have a steady chant of “Rain makes grain” to utilize when the rains are a little too heavy and they start to stress about the crop. In the past couple of years, this motto seems a little soggy because of the massive amounts of precipitation farmers have had to deal with.

During a series of short crop updates provided by Illinois Corn leadership, former Illinois Corn Growers Association President Rob Elliott pretty much summed it up when he commented, “The arc has sunk” on Sunday.

Len Corzine, Assumption, IL offered that he was sharing Rob’s pain.

We had 4.5 to 5.5 for the week. Most fields are ok, but a few are suffering. Some fields may be the best ever and are tasseling right now. The excess moisture may bring additional diseases, so we will fungicide most fields.

In East Central Illinois, Roger Sy, a former ICGA leader, has literally been drowned out.

In Edgar County on two farms only four miles apart east to west, I have received over 17 inches on one and 12 inches on the other in the last month. The rest of my farms have around eight inches for the same time frame. Getting rain again this morning.
 I got everything planted the first time, but have had no chance for any replant. The crops did look great, but we are now seeing yellow spots and streaks in the corn where water is standing or has been flowing through the fields.

It will easily be a week or more before farmers can get back into the fields to protect their crops from diseases, weeds, or simply replant corn that has been drowned or destroyed from our crazy spring/summer weather. And that’s if the rain stops, which isn’t looking likely if the weathermen are correct.

Farming is risky, WET business.

KNEE HIGH BY THE 4TH OF…. JUNE?

We at Illinois Corn love the Midwestern Gold blog. We love it so much we feel like honoring them by ripping off their Friday Farm Photo idea! After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

This photo comes from Shawneetown farmer Jeff Scates. He finished up replanting corn about a week ago, but this picture is from the first field that was planted back on April 2.
So much for the saying “knee high by the 4th of July!”

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

RAINFALL HAMPERS FARMERS IN CENTRAL IL

Though nothing like the rain that just wouldn’t quit coming last spring, a series of showers and thunderstorms has slowed up the planting progress in the past month. Luckily, most Illinois corn farmers were able to get their corn in the ground early and have minimal acres of soybeans left to plant.

Here’s a field update from former ICGA President Rob Elliott from Cameron, IL:
May 27 – Finally back in the field after an extended rain delay since May 5th. Had a couple small pop up showers the last few days but missed the more significant rain that some received. The warmer temperatures have helped dry the ground out, but some are planting around some pretty big wet spots that still remain. Many in southeast Iowa and west central Illinois have had 12 -15 inches of rain in the last month.

The last of the corn should be pretty well in and the remaining beans will go in fairly quickly. There will be corn knee high by the 4th of June and some just coming up. We need some warm weather and sunshine to perk things up including a lot of “soggy attitudes.”

And another update from ICGA Vice President Jim Reed from Monticello, IL:

May 30 – Fields have finally dried out enough to finish spraying corn. Some corn is knee high. I hope to replant beans in ponds next week.

Had some marble size hail damage over 300 acres last Monday night that resulted in 2-3% cut offs in corn and major leaf damage.

Still other ICGA leaders like Steve Ruh of Sugar Grove, IL are asking for rain!
May 28 – I will be putting the finishing touches on bean planting as well as side-dressing and cutting hay this weekend. Corn looks great! First crop hay has good feed value and yielded very well.
Will be looking for a rain around 2pm Memorial Day, is that too much to ask?
I don’t know about Steve, but we received that 2 pm rain here at the Illinois Corn home office so here’s hoping he received a bit too.
Are you a farmer or a farm enthusiast? How is your planting season going or what do you see happening around you? Let us know in the comments where you’re from and how the corn looks in your area. Feel free to upload planting photos to our Facebook page as well!