R.F.D. News & Views

Tim Alexander

Iroquois County is Illinois Corn King
SPRINGFIELD – Iroquois County was tops in corn acres harvested with 342,500, while yield-per-acre top honors went to Piatt Co. with 235.2 bushels, according to USDA’s Illinois Corn County Estimates report. Both counties are in the east region of the state

Data released February 19 show that Bureau Co. led the northwest region of the state in harvested area with 275,000 acres, though Carroll Co. was first in bushels per acre (BPA) with 196.1. In the northeast, LaSalle Co. farmers harvested 288,000 acres for top honors, though Grundy Co. led the region with 205.1 BPA.

Hancock Co. swept top honors in western Ill. with 175,400 acres of corn harvested and 218.5 BPA. Though McLean Co. paced the central Ill. harvest with 322,500 acres, Logan Co. led in BPA with 230.8. The west-southwest area was led in corn area harvested and BPA by Sangamon Co. with 225,500 and 226.8, respectively. The east-southeast was won by Shelby Co. (182,900 acres harvested) and Douglas Co. (224 BPA).

In the southwest, Washington Co. farmers harvested 101,700 acres for the top finish, while Alexander Co. averaged 192.8 BPA to win that category. The southeast region was led by Wayne Co. where farmers harvested 119,500 bushels, and White Co., with 196.4 BPA.

Overall, Illinois farmers harvested 11,750,000 acres of corn, averaged an even 200 BPA, and produced 2,350,000,000 bushels across the state in 2014, according to USDA.


McLean Co. Farmers Harvest 294,000 Bean Acres
SPRINGFIELD – For the second consecutive year, Illinois is the top soybean-producing state in the nation, with 547,680,000 bushels of total production harvested from 9,780,000 acres. Statewide, farmers averaged an amazing 56 bushels per acre (BPA) of soybeans.

The effort was led by McLean County, with 294,000 acres harvested. It was followed by Livingston Co. (277,000 acres) and Iroquois Co. (273,000) in soybean area harvested.

Piatt Co. soybean farmers averaged 69.2 BPA for the state’s top yield honor. They were followed closely by counterparts in Macon Co. (67.4 BPA) and Douglas Co. (65.8 BPA), according to USDA’s February 19 Ill. County Soybean Estimates report.


Nutrient Strategy Nears Rollout
EAST PEORIA – The Illinois EPA’s (IEPA) Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) has cleared the public comment period and is on track for implementation in April, with the majority of farmers throughout the state positively anticipating the voluntary guidelines to help prevent crop field runoff from washing nitrogen and phosphorous into the Mississippi River waterways system. This is according to Lauren Lurkins, director of natural and environmental resources for the Ill. Farm Bureau and a key member of NLRS policy working group.

“The draft strategy document was available for public comment from the end of November until the 24th of January. The Illinois EPA and Department of Agriculture (IDA) will now take under consideration the comments they received and will make any changes they deem appropriate,” said Lurkins, who was in East Peoria last week discussing the NLRS with a group of farm managers and rural appraisers.“At some point (the draft strategy) will be final. I’ve been told they are looking at April, though there is no regulatory or statutory deadline.”

Though she’s encountered a wide variety of responses from different audiences, Lurkins has found that most farmers are ready to embrace the Strategy– before the U.S. EPA imposes binding regulations on their industry. “Generally speaking, I’m talking to farmers who say they are ready to tackle this issue. We’ve got farmers in these crowds that are passionate,” Lurkins said. “(Some) want to tell their stories, and that’s part of what I’m asking for when I talk to farmers. We’re looking for those first adopters and those who believe in these practices to tell their stories to their peers.”


DDGS Sales Neared Record in ‘14
BLOOMINGTON – Sales of distillers dried grains (DDGs), a co-product of ethanol used primarily for livestock feed, neared record levels in 2014. This is according to Ron Gray, former Illinois Corn Marketing Board chairman and current U.S. Grains Council (USGC) chairman, who told some 250 delegates to the USGC’s winter meeting that DDGS exports were a very positive spot for U.S. farmers.

“At the end of the year, our exports were one of the highest years for DDGs on record,” Gray said during the meeting, held earlier in Feb. “The Grains Council was instrumental in mitigating that process so that trade can continue.”

Gray was referring to negotiations involving China and the USGC that led U.S. DDGs exports back into the positive. He also indicated that U.S. sorghum exports gained traction in China last year by “picking up the slack” caused by the biotech issue with corn. (Illinois Corn Daily Update)


Ag Capital Purchases Shifting With Prices
URBANA – Farmers continued to make the same top capital purchases in 2013 that they did a decade earlier, but with some changes, according to University of Illinois economists.

“In the last five years, more capital purchases are being made in the last quarter of the year. Over the ten years in the study, December has primarily been the month with the highest number of purchases as well as the highest amount spent on purchases. However, over the last five years, there has been a trend of more purchases in the last quarter of the year, primarily Dec. Some of the reasons for this increase are higher farm incomes and increasing of the expense election to $500,000 for every year since 2010. The higher expense election has allowed capital purchases to be utilized at the year-end to help farmers optimize their income tax liability,” according to the economists. More at: www.farmdocdaily.illinois.edu.


Illinois Farm Fact:
The top three building assets purchased by farmers are field tile, grain and feed bins and machine sheds. (U of I FBFM Assoc/Dept. of ACES)


(Tim Alexander is a freelance reporter who writes agriculture, news and feature articles for Chronicle Media, Farm World, Prairie Farmer and many other publications. He resides in rural Peoria County with his family.)