TO THE FARM KID DURING HARVEST

That time of year is quickly approaching. You know the time of year where the air becomes colder, the food you eat becomes warmer, and the sunset comes sooner. It’s the time of the year that you look forward to every year because you get to finally see the combine going in fields nearby and maybe just maybe you get to ride in the tractor to the elevator to drop off some freshly harvested grain. But what no one really tells you is that sometimes these can be really hard because you might not get to see your mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa like you are used to because they have to get the crops out of the field. Take it from me, a farm kid whose dad not only farms but also runs multiple grain elevators. During harvest, I barely see my dad for around six to eight weeks. My dad has missed endless amounts of concerts, sporting events, birthdays, and literally any event during the months of September through November. Having a dad that would go to literally everything you had to him not being there all the time was and is still super hard to deal with. But this is what I have learned through all of the harvests that I have been through:

When you get the chance to ride/drive in combine or tractor with them, do it!

Though this might be a “well duh” moment to you, remember that this might be the only time during the week that you get to see them. Enjoy the ride. Stay off your phone. And actually, talk to them. I have found that some of my conversations ever have happened in either a combine or tractor.

It hurts them not being able to see you as much as it hurts you!

Though they may not come out and say it, they miss you as much as you miss them. Though they might like harvest, the endless hours can sometimes get to be too much for them. Know that they miss not being at every event that you have in life. They really do. But know that they want to be there cheering you on and even though they might not be there physically they are still cheering you on.

Help make a meal to take to them in the field.

Okay, this isn’t harvest, but come on. THIS IS ADORABLE

Nothing. And I mean nothing (okay maybe no equipment breaking down) is better during harvest than a home-cooked meal. If you know or are able to, make something for that someone that you miss that you can take to them in the field or wherever they are. The way to someone’s heart is through their stomach (I think that’s how that saying goes, LOL) and I am sure they will get the hint loud and clear that you love them, miss them, and care for them.

Remember this doesn’t last forever.

Harvest (hopefully) only lasts between six to eight weeks. Though it can, and sometimes does feel like a long time, know that it will end. Life will go back to how it normally was. They will be found on the sidelines of your games, sitting in the auditorium waiting for your performance, and tucking you into bed like they normally do.

You are not alone

It’s going to seem like you are alone. Like no one else is going through this. But that is not true. Even though people around you might not be saying all the time that they miss _____ because of harvest, they really do. Know that there are so many people, people you might not even know that are going through this time of missing someone because of harvest, but like I said earlier harvest does not last forever.

To all of the Farm Kids and Farm Families gearing up for harvest, I wish you nothing but a successful and smooth harvest season. Always remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that harvest does not last forever. Enjoy this season!

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

TALK AG TO HER

There are a lot of good girls in the world, but there are none better than a country girl. Whether you found her baling hay in the pasture or disguised in at a bar, country girls are the best you are going to do. Now that we have that straightened out, and thank goodness we do, let’s talk about the quickest way to keep these girls around, maybe even get them down the aisle. Talk ag to them. Country girls are farm girls through and through. There is nothing a farm girl loves more than a man who can talk the farm talk and walk the farm walk. Try these conversation points next time you are lucky enough to get close to the special country girl.

Have a favorite color tractor: If you really are a true country boy, you are going to have a favorite color tractor. If you and the special lady have the same favorite brand, it just might be true love. Healthy debate can be good for a relationship, don’t worry about a little green versus red, a country girl is worth it.

Know the difference between soil and dirt: It may seem like it’s not a big deal, but to a true farm girl, calling her inheritance “dirt” as akin to a slap in the face. Soil is the valuable material that you plant your crops in that resides in the fields. Dirt is displaced soil, or the stuff on the bottom of you show. Don’t mess it up or she won’t forgive you.

Judge: That’s right, us country girls want you to judge. Whether you were on the livestock judging team or the crop judging team, we want you to know what you are talking about. Have an appreciation for a nice looking steer and know when my corn field is looking a bit better than my neighbor’s.

Knock Boots: Yes, you read that right. No, I am not trying to be crude. We are all familiar with the phrase “knocking boots”. For that to even be able to apply to you, you have to own boots. Really, you should own work and dress boots, but don’t even consider yourself potential for a country girl without a pair of boots.

Now, you are a lot closer to getting the special country girl down the aisle. Don’t have the special lady yet? Don’t fret. Find yourself a lady using the tips above and before long you will be hearing wedding bells to. Looking to plan that special day? Check out The Hitching Post for some awesome country wedding ideas!

Shelby Carlson
University of Illinois

#TBT: A ZUCCHINI RECIPE YOU MUST TRY TODAY!

[Originally posted August 17, 2015]

This recipe was originally posted about this time last year. It is so good, we thought it deserved a second debut.

If you have your own garden or are near someone who does, you MIGHT have a ton of zucchini on your hands.  Use that zucchini to make this recipe immediately.  Pronto.  You seriously can’t wait another minute before tasting this deliciousness.

And if you must run to the store to grab a lemon (I had to), just buy a whole bag.  Because you will want to make this again and again … I promise.

lemon zucchini cupcakesGLAZED LEMON ZUCCHINI CUPCAKES

adapted from this recipe

You will need:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (leave the peel on!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, beat 2 eggs well, then add  oil and sugar, and blend well. Then add the milk and lemon juice and blend everything well. Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed in mixture.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don’t overmix.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan (I used cupcake liners, but you could just grease well and go without) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  While baking, make the glaze …

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended.  Spoon glaze over each cupcake. Let glaze set, then serve.

If you prefer a little less lemon taste – although I don’t know why you would! – use a little less lemon and a splash of milk to make your glaze.

Lindsay Mitchell
IL Corn Marketing Director

LEARN MORE ABOUT CORN PLANTING – IN 360 DEGREES!

Farmers are busy planting – or replanting – throughout the month of May.

Certainly, the climate and weather have a lot to do with this.  For many Illinois farmers, their corn was planted in one perfect week in early May, but then heavy rains and now drowning corn seedlings have forced farmers to rip out fields and replant.  And for some, the fields STILL aren’t dry enough to replant or even plant the first time!

But if you’re interested in what Illinois corn farmers are doing this time of year, you’ll want to check out this video.  It’s a 360-degree look at how one of our farmers, Justin Durdan of Utica, plants his corn.

If viewing the video on a desktop, click and drag your mouse. If viewing the video on mobile, open the video in the YouTube app to experience the full 360° view.

Spring is SUCH an important season for farmers.  Certainly there are many risks along the way – not enough rain, too much rain, too hot, bug and disease pressure – but if the corn never gets in the ground or doesn’t get off to a good start, the rest of the growing season is plagued with problems, problems, and more problems.

If you’d like to check out more farmers and their planting stories, simply search #plant17.  Farmers all over the country are posting photos, videos, and blogs about the 2017 planting season on their farms!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

5 THINGS ABOUT THIS PHOTO: GROWING CORN

  1. A corn seed is planted about 1.5 to 2 inches below the soil. Two inches deep is ideal, but there are circumstances (like planting early into cool soils) when planting a bit more shallow might make sense. For optimum root development, corn should never be planted less than 1.5 inches below the soil’s surface.
  2. A long time ago, rows of corn in a field had to be at least 40 inches apart in order to accommodate horses and horse drawn implements. When tractors came along with significantly narrower wheels, farmers started to play with row spacing to determine how they could maximize yield on any given plot of land. Today, the majority of the corn grown in the U.S. is planted in rows 30 inches apart, though some farmers and seed companies experiment with rows that are even closer together than 30 inches, combining more narrow rows with other management practices to try to increase yield.
  3. This corn plant was most likely planted with the help of a GPS system. Tractors, planters, combines, sprayers and virtually all farm equipment can now utilize GPS guidance systems that make planting and caring for crops very efficient. When this seed was planted, the tractor knew exactly where it was planting, and was careful to space the seeds the appropriate distance apart and not to overlap rows which would force corn plants to compete for resources.
  4. Different corn varieties will have different lengths to maturity, which helps farmers select a corn plant that will perform optimally in their growing climate. Farmers also pay attention to the number of days to maturity so that the approximate time to harvest for all their fields can be managed and not every single field will need to be harvested in the same week or on the same day. We can be sure that this corn plant was carefully selected for this field, with a maturity that the farmer felt fit best in his harvest plan.
  5. In this field, something is *almost* about to happen. These corn plants are almost to the stage that farmers will call “closed canopy.” This means that the corn plants and their leaves will finally get big enough that the leaves shade the ground and prevent most weeds from creeping in to steal nutrients. This also means that a farmer can no longer fit a tractor through the field so if any additional farm work needs to be done, it will be done via airplane!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

PRODUCT REVIEW: BAYER FLUENCY AGENT ADVANCED

This planting season we tried out a new product on our farm, Bayer Fluency Agent Advanced. This is a seed lubricant mixed in with the corn or soybean seeds inside the seed bins replacing the need for talc or graphite powder. It keeps things flowing nicely through the planter tubes and plates before the seed gets dropped into the ground. The other neat thing about Bayer’s fluency agent advanced is that it is considered pollinator friendly. In recent years there has been some concern that the dust dispersed from talc and graphite lubricants during planting lands on the plants in the ditches and can be harmful to pollinators like bees and butterflies. Another benefit to using this product was its low use rate at only 1/8 cup per seed unit. We used it in our individual box planter, but it can also be used in a bulk fill planter. The literature says it can be used in all makes and types of planters – including seed tenders to apply it to the seed while filling the planter. One notable quality was due to its properties, it really needs to be mixed in well with a paint stirrer (or your hands) in order for it to adhere nicely to the seed – don’t just rely on gravity to disperse it through the box.  It was also cleaner handling and had less residue buildup meaning easier and faster clean up, plus no black grimy hands like you’d get with graphite. All-in-all this was a quality product which we plan on using more extensively in the future!

Ashley Deal
Membership Assistant
IL Corn