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Daily Journal
     October 27, 2020      #36-301 KDJ

What a difference a year makes: Local grain

By Lee Provost

HERSCHER — One year ago, more than two-thirds of the corn crops were still waving in the autumn winds. An estimated 55 percent of the soybean crop had yet to be harvested.

Fast forward one year later. A state survey completed Monday afternoon reported that 81 percent of the Illinois soybean harvest is complete and 66 percent of the corn harvest has been put under roof.

What a difference a year makes.

Locally, Kankakee County Farm Bureau Director Chad Miller said Monday that upwards of 90 percent of soybeans have been combined and 75 percent of the corn have been collected.

Two Kankakee County farmers contacted Monday reported their crops are under roof, but a hot, dry August impacted the amount of bushels they were able to collect. Many soybean plants aborted the later developing crop near the top of the plant because of the extreme temperatures.

Matt Perreault, of Herscher, who only has some soybeans planted following wheat harvest to combine, said his yields ranged from 50-70 bushels per acre for soybeans and 165-220 bushels for corn. He completed his corn harvest late Sunday.

“We got a real good run at it this year,” he said of the harvest which began in late September. “We basically never had to take foot off of the gas. There were no big rain events. ... We shouldn’t see any combines rolling in December.”

Agriculture is Kankakee County’s top industry. Some 72 percent of all county land is devoted to agriculture production and 17 percent of the Kankakee County economy is based on ag.

Last year’s harvest wasn’t completed until December by several farmers as the extremely wet weather of spring 2019 played havoc with farmers throughout the county. There were some wet stretches in April 2020, but by and large the crop got into the ground on time or only mildly behind schedule.

Perreault acknowledged that after 2019, almost anything which happened this year was going to be better. Perreault, like so many growers last year, was unable to get any or only a fraction of his corn seed into the ground.

However, 2020 will be one of those years farmers will be thinking about a harvest which got away.

Perreault and Kankakee-area farmer Jeff O’Connor both stated that the early and mid-growing season of June and July had all the makings of a huge harvest. However, it ultimately was not to be.

“The steam ran out in August,” Perreault said.

O’Connor, who completed his harvest last week, noted that Miller is correct, soybean and corn yields were not as strong as farmers had been targeting.

But, O’Connor noted, grain prices have risen. He said since early summer, per-bushel soybean prices have gone from about $9 to $11 and corn has increased from $3.25 to the $4 range. A large portion of that increase can be attributed to growing grain demands in China.

O’Connor noted growers are at the mercy of the market.

“We are yield creators and price accepters,” he said.

Whatever the pricing situation, O’Connor noted it’s a good feeling when the crop is in the grain bin.

“If I can be done by Halloween every year, I’ll take that.”

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