SPRING PLANTING CONTINUES

spring field tractor

This photo courtesy of Len Corzine in Assumption, IL who says, “We are 25% planted on corn but we are having limited field days due to rain.  We may not turn a wheel until next week.  The ground is working better than it has in recent memory.  Near perfect seedbed with one pass.  This means we are getting corn planted with less than 1 gallon of diesel per acre.  The general public needs to know how our efficiencies continue to improve with new technology!”

PLANTING SEASON BEGINS IN SOUTHERN IL

nitrogen application, field update, corn farming
Nitrogen application at the Scates Farm in Shawneetown, IL
Planting season is almost upon us!

Tomorrow will be April and after a few days of 70 plus degrees teasing us it has dropped down in the 30s the last three nights. 60s are in the forecast over the weekend so we will at least roll the planters long enough to make sure everything works right.

Nitrogen has been applied over the last week and a half as we have dodged most of the rain.

We are anxious to get going and with the fieldwork we were able to get done last fall the corn could go in at a record pace with near record aces.

The USDA’s Planting Intentions report was released today with some good news on corn acres which ends up being good news for us all.

Jeff Scates
Shawneetown, IL family farmer &
ICGA Vice President

WHERE WERE YOU ONE YEAR AGO?

                                                         photo taken October 6, 2010
ICMB Director Tim Seifert anticipates being done with his harvest on this coming Monday, October 11.  Last year, he remembers starting his harvest around October 10 or 12.  What a difference a year makes!

HOLY COW! THAT’S ALOT OF CORN!

USDA reported corn carry-out for 2009-10 was 1.707 billion bushels compared to 1.673 billion last year. In the September report, USDA estimated 1.386 billion carry-out, so this latest report added 321 million bushels to the current year’s (2010-11) total supply.
Carry-out is the term farmers use to describe the corn left at the end of the year – this is the corn that just sits around extra without any market.  And some people think farmers can’t produce enough to feed and fuel the world! 

 



HARVEST A BIT DISAPPOINTING IN ILLINOIS

While it is a bit of a rarity for harvest to be completed before October 1, we’re just about to do just that in 2010.  What a surprise given the late, late, and even later harvest we dealt with last year, when crops were still in the field at Thanksgiving!

Kent, who farms in Central Illinois, indicates that he’s 70% done with corn and 0% done with beans. Corn so far is at 160 bushels per acre. Lots of variability, but the whole field averages are at 160.

In Northern Illinois, Jim is harvesting early beans with success – 56-65 bushels per acre.  The corn sprayed with Headline that Jim cut has performed better than without Headline … the Headline crop made 205-210 bushels per acre with the other making only 170.

For a point of reference, national average yields in 2009 were 165 bushels per acre, with Illinois average hitting the 183 bushels per acre mark.

Scott reports from the eastern Illinois border that “We are about 1\4 done with field averages from 110 to 190.  I hope to find more fields with the higher end of that spectrum, but know there are going to be some fields below 100 bushels per acre.”

Some Illinois Corn Directors mentioned that they’ve had enough rain and fields are starting to resemble last year’s rutted, muddy mess.  Here’s hoping Illinois corn farmers can hurry up and finish before any more rain hits our area!

CORN HARVEST HAS ARRIVED

Corn harvest is in full swing in Central Illinois, with the cool, breezy weather we’ve had lately drying out the corn in a hurry. 
Today’s forecast from the USDA is that corn production would hit a record 13.2 billion bushels, which is higher than the current 2009 record of 13.1 billion bushels.  Yields are expected to average 162.5 bushels per acre which is down from last year’s record of 164.7 bushels per acre.
If you enjoy this sort of data, click here to read more!

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.