R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Crops coming down across Illinois

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

A Peoria County farmer is seen harvesting corn on Friday, October 13 near Mossville. The havest is moving along nicely with plenty of available field days recently, according to USDA-NASS. (Tim Alexander photo)

The 2017 harvest is well underway or winding up across Illinois, and we have highlights from the latest USDA audio crop progress report for the state. Also this week: a look an Illinois crop production statistics, news about farmer-driven label changes for a popular herbicide, and info about the 2017 Illinois Great Apple Crunch. Please plow ahead …

Crops coming down across Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — The 2017 Illinois crop harvest is moving along nicely in most parts of the state, with combines seen in fields throughout central Illinois most days during the week ending Oct. 8. “High temperatures continue to cross Illinois, but the state received some much-needed rainfall late in the week,” reported Mark Schleusener, Illinois State Statistician for the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Heartland office. There was an average 5.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, Schluesener said in his audio Illinois Crop Progress report for Oct. 10.

“Topsoil moistures improved in Illinois and are now rated 24 percent very short, 37 short and 39 adequate,” he continued. “The soybean harvest advanced by 22 points last week and is now 52 percent complete. That compares to 36 percent one year ago and 41 percent for the five-year average. The condition of the soybean crop was rated 13 percent very poor to poor, 24 fair and 63 percent in good to excellent condition.

“Corn harvest reached 38 percent finished. That compares to 51 percent one year ago and 52 percent for the five-year average. The condition of the corn crop was reported as 12 percent very poor to poor, 24 fair and 64 percent in good to excellent condition.”

In addition, wheat planting was at 30 percent complete, compared to 18 percent in 2016 and the five-year average of 25 percent. Pasture conditions were rated 40 percent very poor to poor, 35 fair and 18 good to excellent, according to the USDA-NASS report.

Corn projection continues to rise

SPRINGFIELD — The latest Illinois Crop Production report, issued Oct. 12 by USDA-NASS, projects Illinois farmers’ corn harvest for 2017 will be larger than previously indicated. With a forecast of 11.05 million acres, the October projection for Illinois corn harvest acreage is up 1 percent from the previous month’s forecast, but down by 3 percent from 2016. The Illinois corn yield projection also rose, by three bushels per acre, to 192. Production, at 2.12 billion bushels, would be the third-highest on record for the state. None of this comes as good news to farmers who are dealing with multiple consecutive years of depressed market prices for corn.

As for soybeans, NASS’ October projection of 601 million bushels would be a new Illinois record for production. However, the expected yield for Illinois farmers of 57 bu./acre was ratcheted down from the September report by one bu./acre. 

In addition, alfalfa hay harvested area was projected at 260,000 acres, up 13 percent from 2016. Illinois alfalfa hay yield is forecast at 3.10 tons per acre and 806,000 tons production.

Illinois Farm Fact:

A bushel of apples weighs about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce. (University of Illinois Extension)

Dicamba complaints lead to relabeling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Responding to thousands of producer complaints of crop damage or loss from alleged negligent usage of in-season dicamba formulations — including more than 240 here in Illinois — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont last week to help minimize the potential for drift damage in 2018.

The manufacturers have volunteered to make label changes that impose additional requirements for in-season, or “over-the-top” dicamba herbicide formulation applications. These changes include a “restricted use” designation that allows only certified applicators with special training to make or supervise applications.  They also include requiring farmers to maintain specific records of their usage of dicamba products.

Applying dicamba formulations in wind environments of more than 10 mph is forbidden under the new agreement, down from 15 mph. Reducing the times during the day when applications can be made was another tenet of the agreement.

EPA will monitor the success of the changes — and the cooperation of genetically modified soybean and cotton producers — during the 2018 growing season, as the agency determines whether or not to extend the two-year registration granted to in-season dicamba products for 2017 and 2018.

Kids participate in Great Apple Crunch

BLOOMINGTON — Around 460,000 Illinois schoolchildren joined 1 million Michigan students in biting into locally grown apples during the 2017 Great Apple Crunch, observed in school cafeterias on Oct. 12. The Illinois Great Apple Crunch, a spinoff from the Great Lakes Apple Crunch, is a daylong celebration of Midwest apples, with schools participating by serving fresh local apples on their lunch trays and encouraging students to “crunch” into them. Educational supplements are supplied in the Prairie State by Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC).

“This is a way for IAITC to incorporate local and regional foods into the classroom,” said Kevin Daugherty, Illinois Farm Bureau education director. “Apple Crunch Day makes a direct connection from farm to table.”

The event took place in Illinois schools from Carbondale the Chicago Public School system. It is part of the Illinois Farm to School Network and Illinois Farm Bureau’s (IFB) ongoing efforts to connect more school districts with local fruit and vegetable producers. IAITC, supported by IFB, introduced its Harvest of the Month program, which seeks to add more locally and regionally grown foods to school menus by highlighting a different Illinois-grown fruit or vegetable each month. Schools participating in the program receive resources including food-related classroom lessons, nutritional information and recipes.

More than 340,000 students participated in last year’s Illinois Apple Crunch. (IFB/FarmWeekNow.com)


–R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Crops coming down across Illinois–