agriculture
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Caring for Your Garden in the Summer Heat
Farm News

Caring for Your Garden in the Summer Heat

First let’s talk about vegetables. According to Kathy LaLiberte from Gardeners.com, “Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, melons, and squash actually need at least a month of 80 to 90 degree weather to develop a flavorful and abundant crop.” Kathy continues to explain how these crops are “sun worshippers”, and as long as they do not run out of water, they will be good in the heat. These plants that love the heat do need lots of water while they are growing, so it is important to pay attention to their hydration levels when there is a lack of rainfall.   READ MORE...

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The Importance of Crop Scouting a Field

The Importance of Crop Scouting a Field

Jeff Grampp is a salesman for United Prairie, a full-service agriculture retail company here in Central Illinois. He explains the importance of crop scouting. “The benefit of crop scouting is staying ahead of any problems that the crop may have. Preventative is usually a lot better than curative,” Grampp says. He attempts to look at each customer’s fields a minimum of three times before the crop is out in the fall. Grampp continued, “If you know you have a problem field, you want to visit it more often.”
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Agriculture and the Fourth of July

Agriculture and the Fourth of July

The largest way that agriculture connects to the Fourth of July is through cookouts, barbeques, and picnics. 61% of Americans will celebrate the holiday with a cookout, picnic, or barbeque. The Fourth of July is the most popular holiday to celebrate by having a barbeque (picnic or cookout).  Barbeques have been a tradition at the White House since Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. Another interesting fact about the White House’s barbeque celebration is that President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted the first White House Barbeque to have Texas-style ribs, according to RFD-TV. 
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Dairy Farms in Central Illinois

Dairy Farms in Central Illinois

Jessy Yancey from the Illinois Farm Bureau Partners provides many facts about dairy farming in Illinois. Yancey states that Illinois ranks 20th in milk production in the United States, producing roughly 21 billion gallons of milk every year. Some of the facts that Yancey states are practical tips to be used with dairy products. For example, fresh milk will stay fresh longer by adding a pinch of salt to each quart of milk. Other facts are just for fun. Yancey says, “A cow will produce an average of 6.3 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,300 gallons each year!” Also stated, “More than 1,000 new dairy products are introduced each year.”
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June Agriculture Happenings

June Agriculture Happenings

Every situation varies, but many farmers plan out how they will control weeds and pests, along with providing the crops with needed supplements, before they even begin planting. This gives the farmers a head start on knowing costs they should account for and allows them to plan better. For example, planted corn wants (and needs) extra nitrogen. Adding this after the crop is emerging from the ground is called sidedress. Some people put nitrogen on before they plant, some in the fall season, some different combinations… There are many ways to do it and each farmer does what works best for their operation. 
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Vilsack Announces Transformation of Food System

Vilsack Announces Transformation of Food System

During Vilsack’s speech, he explained that the USDA will put nearly $3 billion into grants, loan guarantees, and many programs to transform the U.S. food system. Jim Wiesemeyer, a writer for AgWeb.com, explained how the USDA will break up the funding. $650 million in funding and loan assistance will go to meat and poultry processing projects. That includes $250 million that will help entrepreneurs who have trouble getting credit. An additional $100 million will go towards training meat processing workers. Another $600 million is intended to improve food supply chain infrastructure. This includes cold storage and refrigerated trucks, outside of meat and processing. 
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Agriculture Activities for the Summer

Agriculture Activities for the Summer

First, you could grow a container garden. Growing food in containers is a great way to have a small, easy to manage garden that teaches about food production and basic plant care. Small and mini vegetable varieties are perfect for a container garden. Mini zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and bush pea plants are good options for containers. Before even starting the garden, seed germination would be a fun and practical task to do as an activity, then transplant into the containers for your container garden. Seed germination can be done by placing a damp paper towel on a plate, spreading plant seeds on the towel, then placing a second damp paper towel on top of the seeds. You will want to ensure that the paper towels stay moist for 5 to 7 days and that you are checking the seeds daily for sprouts.  
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Wine Country in Your Own Backyard

Wine Country in Your Own Backyard

Mackinaw Valley Winery has about 20 different wines featured in their tasting room. As a guest, you may sample 3 complimentary tastings, then tastings are $1 each after 3 samples. Their wine list features red, white, and blush wines. All of their wines are made at the winery from French American Hybrid grapes and some native varietals from their vineyard. Wine is sold by the glass or bottle to enjoy in their tasting room or to take back home. They always offer a case discount of 10 percent. 
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Agritourism in Central Illinois

Agritourism in Central Illinois

Agritourism is not only beneficial for business and enjoyment purposes, but it is great for providing agricultural knowledge to community members and visitors. Many agritourism locations in our area offer field trips for schools to take and learn more about their operation. In addition, often part of the experience at an agritourism location is intended to educate visitors about what the operation does and sometimes even about that area of agriculture in general. The knowledge provided draws attraction to the location and helps to maintain agricultural land. Agritourism provides the opportunity to increase support for the agriculture community. 
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Ukrainian Agriculture Update

Ukrainian Agriculture Update

Ordoñez (npr.org) states that Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture currently says that 30% of the country’s farmland is occupied by Russian troops or is unsafe for Ukrainian farmers to be in. This means that out of their usual 70% of the country’s land that is typically used for agriculture, only 49% of the country’s land is currently available to use. On top of that issue, Ukraine’s export routes are blocked. Russia has blocked ships from departing, leaving grain stuck in makeshift silos across Ukraine. The Ukrainian Government is working to help with global needs by trying to expand export routes via trains and small ports along the Danube River. However, the additional routes simply can not make up for the amount of goods they would be able to export out of the blocked ports. To add to the difficulties they are already facing, gas prices continue to rise and farmers are struggling to find fertilizer to help grow their crops. Ordoñez (npr.org) reported that Sergii Leshchenko, who is a senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, stated that Ukrainian farmers are going to have much less to harvest this year. Leshchenko continued to say that it is important to [have a harvest] that at least covers Ukraine’s internal needs. 
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Hydroponics: Growing Without Soil

Hydroponics: Growing Without Soil

Hydroponics systems are made up of basic components that are not difficult to set up. There are a variety of different hydroponic systems you can use, but the simplest of at home systems fall into a category called “Deep Water Culture”. The University of Minnesota Extension describes a simple deep water culture set-up as, “Plants are grown in net pots that sit in a styrofoam lid, and the roots hang down into a bucket of water.” This type of system is the most common for small-scale growers, is the least expensive, and is the easiest to maintain. 
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Starting Your Own Composting System

Starting Your Own Composting System

The basics you need to start composting are browns, greens, and water. Browns are materials such as dead leaves, branches, twigs, coffee filters, and egg shells. Browns provide the pile with carbon-rich matter. The bulkiness of these materials will allow oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside in the compost pile. The secret to a healthy compost pile is the carbon to nitrogen ratio that you provide. The nitrogen part of the pile comes from the “greens” you add. Greens include materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and green leaves. The nitrogen ingredients for the pile, which are protein-rich matter, provide the pile with raw materials for making enzymes. A good rule of thumb for the bin or pile is to use one-third green material and two-thirds brown material. You should alternate your layers for best results. If your pile starts to have a foul odor, try adding more carbon (brown) material. Lastly, you will need to add water for moisture to help break down the organic matter. A general rule for adding water would be to add water every three to seven days, but this is really dependent on the conditions that your compost pile faces. 
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Dates to Know for Gardeners in Planting Season

Dates to Know for Gardeners in Planting Season

Vegetable; Hardiness; Planting Period Asparagus; Hardy; March 15th - April 15th Bean, bush, lima; Very Tender; May 10th - June 15th Broccoli; Half-hardy; April 10th - July 15th Carrot; Half-hardy; April 10th - July 15th Cauliflower; Half-hardy; July 10th - 20th Cucumber; Very Tender; May 20th - June 15th Lettuce, leaf; Half-hardy; March 25th - May 15th Peas; Half-hardy; April 10th - May 1st Pepper; Very Tender; May 10th - June 1st Potato; Half-hardy; April 1st - 15th Pumpkin; Very Tender; May 20th - June 10th Radish (spring); Half-hardy; April 5th - June 1st Rhubarb; Hardy; March 25th - May 15th Spinach; Hardy; March 25th - April 15th Sweet Potato; Very Tender; May 10th - June 1st Tomato; Very Tender; May 10th - June 1st
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Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

Many invasive pests and diseases are what Bond and Sequeira call “natural hitchhikers”. This phrase is used because it is easy for people to unintentionally move the pests and diseases to new areas. Moving them introduces them to an area where they are nonnative. One example of how this could happen would be a situation where they are hiding in untreated firewood. They could also attach themselves to outdoor gear and vehicles and be unintentionally moved to an unwanted place. The pests may also be transported unintentionally through agricultural materials such as soil, homegrown produce, seeds, and plants. 
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Illinois Takes an Additional Step to Protect Poultry Flocks

Illinois Takes an Additional Step to Protect Poultry Flocks

The Department’s emergency rules take effect immediately and may be effective for up to 150 days. However, after 45 days, the Department will reevaluate based on the avian flu status at the time and may repeal the emergency rules at that point. If the situation requires further cancellation, the Department will continue to evaluate in 45-day increments for up to 150 days.
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Transportation of Agricultural Goods

Transportation of Agricultural Goods

Trucks are utilized if there is no water access, no good railway system, or to travel shorter distances (around 500 miles or less). Trucks are the primary way to move grain from production sites. Railways are utilized where there is no good waterway system as well. Trains are the smarter option economically compared to trucks because of the efficiency of how much product you can pull with the amount of fuel used. Rail cars have a capacity of about 5,200 cubic feet or 223,000 pounds (111.5 tons). Nationally, railways account for about 33% of corn and 60% of wheat shipped. These percentages translate to 11.3% of total grain production in the United States. Lastly, barges are a low cost option that are utilized frequently, especially in the grain industry. Four of the top ten barge companies are owned by grain companies. Those companies are ADM, Conagra, Cargill, and Bunge. Barges today are used for low-value, high bulk items. A barge can hold up to 1,750 tons of cargo. Illinois is in the top 5 of barge transportation nationally. 
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Olympia FFA Places 2nd at Dairy Cattle and Horticulture CDE

Olympia FFA Places 2nd at Dairy Cattle and Horticulture CDE

The Olympia FFA horticulture team took home second place and consisted of Kendall Leimbach (5th place individual), Kaitlynn Whitecotton (8th), Kari Simpson (9th), and Anna Sanders.  Each participant in this CDE completed a section on plant identification and took a written test about the different aspects of the horticulture industry.  Other components to the contest included judging rings and a landscape practicum.  Kari Simpson reflected on the CDE saying, “My favorite part of the Horticulture CDE was the judging rings.  I felt confident on how I placed the different classes of plants.”  The section contest was hosted by Tri-Valley High School.  The horticulture team will compete at the State competition on April 22nd, 2022.
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2022 USDA Farm Acreage Estimates

2022 USDA Farm Acreage Estimates

The United States Department of Agriculture chief economist, Seth Meyer, explained that high prices are supporting the slight increase in combined acreage of corn, soybeans, and wheat planted compared to 2021. For reference, the predicted total acreage of the three crops combined is 228 million acres for 2022. In 2021 that value was 227.3 million acres. However, when looking at just corn and soybeans combined, the total is 0.6 million less acres planted than 2021. The 2021 planting season set the record high for combined acres of corn and soybeans at 180.6 million acres. 
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Innovative Technology in Agriculture

Innovative Technology in Agriculture

However, many agricultural companies have made large strides in their technology to help combat the challenges that agriculture faces. Older companies have found solutions before, but understand that they have to keep finding new solutions as technology adapts. New companies have come into play, and they have the same goal of finding new solutions as the older companies do. 
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Olympia Attends 2022 McLean County Farm Bureau Acquaintance Day

Olympia Attends 2022 McLean County Farm Bureau Acquaintance Day

Thirty-two Olympia FFA sophomores had the opportunity to “network” their name when they attended the McLean County Farm Bureau Acquaintance Day on Tuesday, January 11th. Students started out the morning by listening to an inspiring speech by former Olympia FFA Member and State FFA Vice President, Molly Schempp, who encouraged each member to be the best they can be, work towards achieving their goals, and to take advantage of the many opportunities that FFA provides. After breaking into groups, students played three games led by the 4-H camp director and employees, who taught participants about the importance of having good communication and problem solving skills in the workplace as well as meeting new people in order to diversify their agricultural knowledge. After activities, students were able to explore different agricultural careers, and network their own names to the local agriculture representatives. Students cycled through table stations and heard information about each agricultural career opportunity. Students even had the option to drive a Case IH tractor or combine! After a delicious catered lunch, students listened to another keynote speaker who advised students to be careful about what they are posting or saying on social media, and to make good choices and take hold of opportunities that will help them in the future. Students ended the day with agricultural trivia and escape box games. Trinity Weeks reflected on the trip saying, “my favorite part was being able to test drive a large tractor. It was a new and exciting experience for me.” Kaitlynn Whitecotton said, “I enjoyed meeting other FFA members from the other schools that I wouldn’t normally get to meet. The lunch was also really great!”
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How Farmers Prepare for Planting

How Farmers Prepare for Planting

Farmers will also hook up pieces of equipment to each other and make sure that everything is calibrated. Once their equipment is ready to go, they will be able to get out into the field once the opportunity arises, which could very likely be a short window of time. A safety check is also a very important step that farmers do before planting. They want to check that all lights and other safety systems are working properly. 
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20 Under 40 Program Celebrates Illinois' Young Farmers

20 Under 40 Program Celebrates Illinois' Young Farmers

The Illinois Soybean Association, in partnership with Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Beef Association, Midwest Dairy, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Grain & Feed Association of Illinois and Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, created the “20 Under 40” program. Nominations will be accepted through March 31.
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Fast Facts and National Agriculture Day

Fast Facts and National Agriculture Day

On March 22nd, the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) is hosting a virtual Ag Day event along with events held in Washington, D.C. ACA will bring college students to the capital to virtually deliver the message of Ag Day to Capitol Hill. On both Monday, March 21st and Tuesday, March 22nd, there will be an exhibit on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Metro that showcases modern agriculture. According to the ACA, “At this hands-on display of modern equipment and technology, you will learn how the latest ag equipment, crop inputs, data, and technology are working together to drive agriculture’s tradition of producing more with less.” On March 21st, in Washington, D.C., there will also be an Ag & Food Policy Summit presented by Agri-Pulse and a Celebration of Agriculture Reception. On March 22nd, there will be a Declaration Event in D.C. and the Virtual Ag Day Celebration from 10 to 11 a.m. central time. You can register for the virtual celebration by visiting www.agday.org/2022events, then finding the Ag Day Virtual Celebration information in the middle of the page, then clicking “Here” where it says “Register Here”. Clicking that link will send you to the zoom meeting sign up page for the event. 
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IDOA and State Fire Marshal Encourage Farmers to Practice Safety While Working in Grain Bins

IDOA and State Fire Marshal Encourage Farmers to Practice Safety While Working in Grain Bins

Based on Purdue University's 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities (ACSRIF) report, the U.S. documented 35 grain entrapment cases. The 35 cases represent an almost 8 percent decline in grain entrapments from 2019, when 38 entrapments were recorded. The total number of fatal and non-fatal entrapments is the second highest in the past six years. In 2020, Illinois Fire Departments responded to a nation leading 12 rescue incidents at Illinois grain bins/elevators, according to National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data.
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Ukraine-Russia Conflict & Agriculture

Ukraine-Russia Conflict & Agriculture

If the tension between Russia and Ukraine leads to any disruptions in trade, the effects could be felt globally. This year, Ukraine is predicted to account for 19% of rapeseed, 18% of barley, 16% of corn, and 12% of wheat exports. Most of their exports are shipped in the fall, with the exception of sunflower seed oil being shipped mostly year-round. If spring planting is disrupted, major concerns will arise. If the tensions turn for the worse, it will likely cause a spike up in agricultural commodity prices because of how large of a wheat producer Ukraine is. The length of the spike would most likely be determined by how long the potential conflict would last. 
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Free Screening of SILO

Free Screening of SILO

Please sign up here: https://form.jotform.com/220386018134146
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Starting Your Garden Indoors

Starting Your Garden Indoors

Starting with seeds is more cost effective and it is easier to have a larger selection. Using seeds allows you to be picky, giving you the chance to easily choose exactly what variety of each plant that you want to grow. You not only get the chance to be extra picky about the variety you choose, but you can be extra picky about what plants you will put into your garden. You can choose the strongest plants for your garden because you will know which ones have the best growth rate. While there are many great reasons to start your plants from seeds, we all know that it is possible to see challenges from this method. The best way to combat most challenges is to start your plants in an indoor environment and give them a good chance before transplanting outdoors. Growing indoors is specifically important for warm season plants. However, it can be beneficial for cold season plants as well to ensure they are able to reach their full potential in their short window of ideal outside time. 
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Upcoming National FFA Week

Upcoming National FFA Week

Throughout the week, the National FFA dedicates three of the days as special days. First is Tuesday, February 22nd, which is Alumni Day. The purpose of Alumni Day is to “celebrate the key role FFA Alumni and Supports play in student and chapter success”. Thursday, February 24th is Give FFA Day. The National FFA encourages giving to FFA to support students and chapters. The organization is very beneficial to the students involved. They help students grow their leadership skills, professionalism, and communication while giving those students a community environment to thrive in. The last day specifically dedicated to something is Friday, February 25th. Friday is Wear Blue Day, where people are encouraged to wear blue to show FFA pride. 
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Connor Gordon Recommended for State FFA Degree

Connor Gordon Recommended for State FFA Degree

In order to qualify, Connor:
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Farming Through the Snowstorm

Farming Through the Snowstorm

Snow helps to provide moisture for growing crops. Although there are no crops planted now, as the snow melts the moisture makes its way down into the soil. The soil will store the moisture and have it ready to help growing crops. Also, the snow on top of the ground can help preserve the moisture that is already there. Snow will also insulate dormant crops such as wheat. During the really cold temperatures, especially at night, the snow will help to protect dormant crops. Snowflakes have a trace amount of nitrogen in them. So, the snow can help put a little bit of nitrogen into the ground, which will help growing crops in the spring. Especially with the prices of nitrogen right now, any bit can help! A farmer can help to stop the issue of snow drifting onto the roads if they have a no till operation. No till fields provide a bit of a barrier for the blowing snow. Snow can actually be considered valuable in many field situations for farmers. 
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Illinois continues to battle nutrient pollution

Illinois continues to battle nutrient pollution

This year, Illinois lawmakers are considering how to best direct state resources to help reduce nutrient runoff, particularly in the agriculture sector and suburban sewage runoff.
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Precision Planting Winter Conference 2022

Precision Planting Winter Conference 2022

Winter Conference means more to the Precision Planting team than just showcasing their new products. Huber explained that while one of their goals for the conference is to showcase new products, it is more important to them to show growers where Precision Planting is going and where they believe there is opportunity for return on investment for growers. “That’s what really gets us excited at the end of the day,” Huber stated. At the Tremont location, they rotated 3 groups of 80 attendees per day through 4 different sessions. Huber said that many great conversations took place.
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How Livestock Stays Warm During Winter

How Livestock Stays Warm During Winter

1. Making sure that the animals have enough food is important because food provides them with energy needed to stay warm. The most heat that will be provided from food occurs a few hours after eating, so if animals are fed at night before bed it helps them stay warm throughout the night. In addition to having intentional feeding patterns and increasing the amount of food, it is beneficial to add more protein into the animal’s diet to keep them warm. 
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Different Types of Farms

Different Types of Farms

The first group is Small Family Farms. In this category, the farm has a GCFI (gross cash farm income) of less than $350,000. In the Small Family Farms group, you will find Retirement Farms, Off-Farm Occupation, and Farming-Occupation Farms. Retirement Farms have a principal operator that is officially retired; however, they continue to farm on a small scale. The Off-Farm Occupation group is a small farm whose principal operator has a primary occupation outside of their farm. The Off-Farm Occupation group also includes operators who do not consider themselves in the labor force. The last group within Small Family Farms is Farming-Occupation Farms. These are small farms with a principal operator who has a primary occupation of farming. There are two further classifications within this group, which are Low-Sales Farms and Moderate-Sales Farms. Low-Sales Farms have a GCFI of less than $150,000 and Moderate-Sales Farms have a GCFI of between $150,000 and $349,999. Small farms make up 90% of all U.S. farms. 
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Precision Planting Winter Conference

Precision Planting Winter Conference

At Winter Conference you will learn about topics from three categories: hearing from AgTech Creators, eliminating challenges, and you will be given the chance to connect with other growers. Both engineers and agronomists will discuss their focus on helping farmers improve their operations. When you learn about eliminating challenges, you will learn strategies and techniques to be used on the farm. There are demonstrations of the newest Precision Planting technologies, so you can see first hand how a product will work and could fit into your farm. Last, but definitely not least, connecting with other growers is arguably the best part of the conference. You can learn about what other people are doing on their farms and what experiences they may have had with certain Precision Planting technologies. You will also have the opportunity to talk to Precision Planting employees and dealers for further questions or conversation. 
Best of 2021  |  
Ag Input Concerns

Ag Input Concerns

One major input concern is the price of fertilizer. High natural gas prices indicate a higher heating and electricity bill this winter. The high natural gas prices affect fertilizer companies because some companies are not willing to pay the costs needed to continue production like normal with the amount they have to pay for natural gas. In Europe, natural gas prices have increased by almost 6 times higher. When natural gas accounts for around 85% of the production cost of ammonia, you can see where the high natural gas prices have become an issue. Ammonia is a key ingredient in many fertilizers. Keith Good from the University of Illinois reported that nitrogen-based fertilizers have become more expensive due to high natural gas prices which have impacted the price of ammonia and urea prices in the United States. Ammonia and urea prices have roughly tripled from last year, according to Good. The USDA estimates that out of 90 million acres of corn, 3 million acres will switch to soybeans for next year due to nitrogen levels. With the increase in cost of nitrogen, corn and soybeans could be close to equally as profitable for next year. There is plenty of fertilizer available to anyone willing to pay the price, but when the prices are so high it leaves farmers to consider what they can afford to do for next year.
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Christmas Tree Farms

Christmas Tree Farms

Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington are the top Christmas tree producing states in the country, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Michigan is ranked third for production, but they grow the largest variety of Christmas trees out of any state. Although those states rank in the top 6 in the country, it is important to note that all states in the United States grow real Christmas trees. The first Christmas tree lot for retail was started by Mark Carr in New York in 1851. The average growing time for each individual tree is 7 years, but it can take up to 15 years for a tree to grow. 
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Progressive Ag Services

Progressive Ag Services

Before Matt Boudeman began Progressive Ag Services in 2014, he was working in ag retail. Matt described that he has always had a passion for helping farmers make better decisions. He stated, “I felt like where I was at in retail, I only had a certain group of people that I could work with. I had to stay within my sales region. I wanted to get back to the farm and thought that starting my own business and working with any grower that I wanted to work with would make me happier in the long run.” Before Paul joined Progressive Ag Services in 2015, he was working for Ag-Land FS. Paul explained why he decided to join Matt and co-own the company; “The prospects of self-employment were really intriguing. I was very interested in the opportunity to build something from the ground up.” Tyler being hired as their first full-time employee is just one major indicator of how much the company has grown since 2014. Tyler decided to join the team as a full-time employee because “it wasn’t just the products and services that they provide, but more importantly the focus on customer profitability and solution-based consulting.” He continued, “They are building a very successful business and it was a team that I definitely wanted to be a part of.” 
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Dairy Industry Exports

Dairy Industry Exports

From 2000 through 2018, the amount of milk that each American drank dropped by 26%. Smaller farms were in trouble because of the growing popularity of large firms (like Walmart) opening up their own farms to produce their own dairy products. Prices for producers were rising before 2020, which shrunk farmer’s profit gap smaller and smaller. All of these factors were apparent before March of 2020, when COVID hit. Then, dairy farmers went through increased struggle. Milk prices had to be lowered to encourage buyer demand to go up. Products had to be thrown away or dumped because there was a lack of transport to get them to places to sell before they spoiled. More factors played into this tough time for dairy farmers too. Thankfully, the dairy industry is back on the upswing in exports and has the chance to break export records. 
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Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey farming can be compared to chicken farming in a lot of ways. The main reason turkey farming is similar to chickens is that commercial turkeys are raised to gain quality weight quickly. This is why commercial turkeys differ in appearance from wild turkeys. This difference is not a bad thing for the animals, it is because the turkeys have a different purpose for their lives. Turkeys on farms are treated with top quality care, the farmers care about the animals and know that the animals will live up to their full potential with the best care. There are more than 100 million turkeys on farms throughout the United States, with Minnesota being the top turkey producing state. Other states that lead turkey production include: North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa, and California. Turkey farms are very efficient, like all aspects of the agriculture industry strive to be. In the 1930s it would take a turkey farmer about 105 pounds of feed to feed a 21 pound turkey. Today, that same amount of feed can be used by a turkey farmer to feed a 45 pound turkey. 
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Favorite Harvest Meals This Year

Favorite Harvest Meals This Year

Darren Davis farms around McLean, IL, where he has roughly 1,200 acres of farm ground. He said that the food he eats varys, but about half the time he will just eat snack food. His go-to snacks include: chips, Ritz crackers (which are his main snack), peanut M&M’s, or Reese’s. If he has the option, he will choose the tree or egg Reese’s because “they have a better peanut butter to chocolate ratio than the Reese’s cups”. 
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Farm Work Moves Inside for Winter

Farm Work Moves Inside for Winter

Most of the farmers in the area have finished harvesting, and the rest are completing their last bit of harvest. As of last Sunday, 90% of the corn has been harvested in the state. This is 4% less than the amount that had been harvested last year at this time but is 3% better than the last 5-year average for this time of the harvest season. Looking at soybeans, 85% of the soybean crop has been harvested. Last year, 96% of soybeans had been harvested. Looking at the 5-year average, 7% less soybeans have been harvested now than typically have been. Weather and field conditions always determine how much can be harvested. The average temperature for the past week has been 41.3℉. 
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Ag Input Concerns

Ag Input Concerns

One major input concern is the price of fertilizer. High natural gas prices indicate a higher heating and electricity bill this winter. The high natural gas prices affect fertilizer companies because some companies are not willing to pay the costs needed to continue production like normal with the amount they have to pay for natural gas. In Europe, natural gas prices have increased by almost 6 times higher. When natural gas accounts for around 85% of the production cost of ammonia, you can see where the high natural gas prices have become an issue. Ammonia is a key ingredient in many fertilizers. Keith Good from the University of Illinois reported that nitrogen-based fertilizers have become more expensive due to high natural gas prices which have impacted the price of ammonia and urea prices in the United States. Ammonia and urea prices have roughly tripled from last year, according to Good. The USDA estimates that out of 90 million acres of corn, 3 million acres will switch to soybeans for next year due to nitrogen levels. With the increase in cost of nitrogen, corn and soybeans could be close to equally as profitable for next year. There is plenty of fertilizer available to anyone willing to pay the price, but when the prices are so high it leaves farmers to consider what they can afford to do for next year.
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Pumpkin Production in Illinois

Pumpkin Production in Illinois

Illinois is one of those six states and is home to the pumpkin capital of the world! Illinois is the leading state for the amount of acres of pumpkins harvested as well as an even larger amount of processing acres. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “In 2020, Illinois increased its acreage and leading position, harvesting more than twice as many pumpkin acres as any of the other top States, at 15,900 acres.” Pumpkin production in the United States is majorly targeted for seasonal markets or ornamental uses. “The most recent available data indicates that almost 80 percent of pumpkin acres in Illinois are devoted to varieties destined for pie filling or other processing uses,” the USDA continued. 
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Halloween's Connection to Agriculture

Halloween's Connection to Agriculture

It is believed that the origins of Halloween began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was celebrated on October 31st and November 1st to mark the end of harvest and the beginning of the winter season. The Celts believed that on the night of October 31st ghosts of the dead would return to earth and that Celtic priests had a connection to predicting the future. The Celts would even wear costumes during the celebration. This celebration, which sounds like a much scarier version of certain aspects that are present in our celebration of Halloween today, began as the mark of the end of harvest season. We can be thankful that at the end of our harvest season, Halloween is just celebrated with fun costumes and candy rather than how the Celts would celebrate.
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A Diversity of Crops

A Diversity of Crops

The elite soil and varying climate in Illinois allows for the crop diversity in our state, but what does the production of each crop (that isn’t corn and soybeans) look like for Illinois farmers?
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Get to Know the National FFA

Get to Know the National FFA

It all began with the Smith Hughes Act in 1917. The Smith Hughes Act provided federal support for vocational agriculture education. The FFA organization works for members through a three-factor model which includes classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences, and FFA. Without the Smith Hughes Act, the classroom instruction of agriculture would at the very least be lacking to what it is today. Next in 1925, educators at Virginia Tech formed the Future Farmers of Virginia (FFV) for their male agriculture students. The FFV was a model for the creation of the Future Farmers of America. One year later, in 1926, the first National Congress of Vocational Agriculture students competed for a National Livestock Judging Contest. Livestock judging, along with many other competitions, are a large part of what members can do in FFA. In 1927, the bylaws and constitution were written for the New Farmers of Virgina, creating the organization for African-American agriculture students. Finally, in 1928 the Future Farmers of America was established, and the first National Convention was held in Kansas City, MO. In 1929, national blue and corn gold were adopted as the official FFA colors, and still are to this day.
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Harvest 2021 Update

Harvest 2021 Update

I had the opportunity to have a conversation with an employee of Progressive Ag Services who explained what he has seen throughout this year’s harvest so far. He explained, “The corn is and has been ready to harvest. It is getting to the point where farmers could border it being too dry, especially for the guys that didn’t spray late season fungicide. There are some stalk issues also this year, so it needs to come out before the plant falls down or drops ears.” For soybeans, “There’s some guys cutting beans, but when they are testing moisture, many farmers are finding that the crop is too dry. When beans are that dry the farmers are losing money. So, most guys are waiting for rain to put moisture points back into the beans. Beans harvest moisture will fluctuate up and down, while corn’s harvest moisture just keeps getting drier.”
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Hurricane Ida's Agricultural Damage

Hurricane Ida's Agricultural Damage

The winds and flood brought to Louisiana from Hurricane Ida have been estimated to cause at least $584 million dollars of damage to Louisiana agriculture. The significant areas of damage were to timber, buildings, equipment, and important infrastructure. Hurricane Ida hit land as a category 4 hurricane with winds over 150 MPH. Crops affected suffered physical damage and the lucky crops that missed physical damage, but were exposed to flood waters, may have to be disposed of due to FDA guidance. In addition to Louisiana crops, many crops were destroyed along the path the hurricane took after its initial strike in Louisiana. These crops will have to adhere to the same guidance from the FDA. Grain shipments were affected due to port closure. The lower Mississippi has been reopened to barge traffic, but grain elevators and barge terminals have been damaged, waterways still have obstructions, and lingering power-outages are affecting port movement. The timber damage will affect parts of the lumber market because many of the fallen trees will not be able to be used due to disease and other problems. So much fallen timber could also flood the lumber market, causing prices and sales to fluctuate.  Louisiana farmers have faced an estimated $162.9 million dollars in damage to farm buildings and equipment, which doesn’t include $37.9 million dollars in damage to fencing alone. 
Agriculture at Home  |  
Fall Vegetable Garden

Fall Vegetable Garden

Before you plant any seeds or plugs, you will want to clear out the garden space from any remaining crops from the past season. Make sure to remove any weeds also to allow your plants to have full access to water and nutrients in the soil. You can include a two-three inch layer of well decomposed compost on top of the soil to give your plants a little help while growing. Fall is a great time to use any leftover seeds you may have of the correct varieties from the spring season. While planting seeds, you will want to bury them slightly deeper into the ground because the soil has less moisture in the fall than it does in the spring. With the short amount of time left before the first frost, what varieties would be good to still plant for this fall?
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