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2000-2001 corn and soybean
yields released

[FEB. 18, 2001]  It’s once again official with the release of county yields for corn and soybeans from the Illinois/U.S. Crop Reporting Service:  Logan County producers weathered a year of ups and downs in the weather categories to average a yield of 151 bushels per acre for corn and 47 for soybeans.

The top-yielding counties in the state for corn were Moultrie County with 175, Coles County with 174, Douglas and Piatt counties with 170, and McDonough and Bureau counties with 169 bushels per acre.

Top-yielding soybean counties were Douglas County with 51 and Coles, Moultrie, Stark and Henderson counties with 50 bushels per acre.

The Logan County five-year average yields are 151.6 bushels per acre for corn and 47.5 bushels per acre for soybeans.  Logan County record yields for both corn and soybeans were both established in 1994, with 181 bushels per acre for corn and 50.5 bushels per acre for soybeans.

McLean County was once again the top producer of corn and soybeans, with production of 50,180,800 bushels of corn and 14,910,700 bushels of soybeans.  Logan County produced 27,466,900 bushels of corn and 7,712,700 bushels of soybeans.

Following is a table of 2001 yields for Logan and surrounding counties:

2001 crop yields


Corn yield (bu/A)

Soybean yield (bu/A)




























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Quotes (John Fulton)

“This has been another in a series of unusual years.  As Kevin Steffey said at a local meeting, normal is now the 10th unusual year in a row.”

“Extreme dry weather in areas of the county severely limited yields, especially where there was sand or gravel under the topsoil.”

“Logan County producers and the ag service industry are top-notch.  The crop always has top yield potential.  It’s up to Mother Nature in the end, and this year, Mother Nature didn’t smile on many areas of the county.”

“As far as weather goes for the 2002 crop, moisture supplies are still below what we would like.  The large rains of a few weeks ago helped, but more would still be welcome.”

“Many people have commented on the lack of cold weather this winter, but we actually had more frost in the ground this year (compared to last), due to the lack of snow cover.”

“Farmers are eternal optimists.  Who else would scatter a few seeds on the ground and trust they would grow and provide for their living.”

[John Fulton]

What’s it cost to farm?

[FEB. 4, 2001]  There has been a lot of press concerning farmers, farm program payments and the like since last fall. I’m not even going to go there. What interests me right now are the input costs and the income estimates. Just out are the estimated costs of production for this coming growing season, courtesy of Gary Schnitkey at the University of Illinois.

With corn and soybeans being our major crops, I’ll concentrate on relaying information on those two. The short version of corn after soybeans is that the cost to produce an acre is $419. This is based on 160-bushel-per-acre yields. The variable costs are $183 per acre. I’ll cover some more specifics about variable and fixed costs a bit later. The short version of soybean production is an estimated $345 to produce 55-bushel-per-acre soybeans. The variable soybean cost is $117 per acre.

For the longer version of the story on corn, here goes my attempt. Variable costs were estimated at $183 per acre and included fertilizer, lime, pesticides, seed, drying and storage, machinery repairs, crop insurance, and interest on money borrowed for operating money. Just to highlight a few items, nitrogen fertilizer is estimated at $24 per acre, herbicides at $25 and seed at $38. Fixed costs include labor, building costs, machinery costs, interest on investment, farm insurance, utilities and land cost. These fixed costs totaled $236 per acre for our 160-bushel yield level. Getting it down to the cost per bushel, it costs a total of $2.63 per bushel to produce 160-bushel corn with the cost estimates.

For soybeans, it costs the $117 per acre for variable costs and $225 per acre for fixed costs (with the same general categories as for corn). Select cost estimates for soybeans are herbicides at $34, seed at $19 and land costs at $145 per acre. The per-bushel cost to produce soybeans is estimated at $6.28 per bushel.


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If you want to see the entire estimated cost of production packet, check it out on the web at http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu//manage/
, or stop by the office and pick up a set.

The importance of these figures is that they point out what people in production agriculture already know. It takes outside money to keep things rolling. Figuring the loan rate of $1.95 per bushel for corn and $5.41 per bushel for soybeans, costs of production are 68 cents per bushel more than the corn is worth and 87 cents in the case of soybeans. Sure, these cost of production figures had a small labor charge built in, but $22 per acre for soybeans and $27.50 per acre for corn only go so far. The other thing to keep in mind is that production agriculture is about the only major commodity where the producer does not set the selling price — it is set by the buyers.

[John Fulton]

Extended January thaw

[JAN. 28, 2001]  It has been noted that this is one of the warmer winters on record. When we think of the traditional January thaw, we think of the snow melting, water running and mud everywhere. This year we haven’t really had much moisture or cold weather. We did have more frost in the ground at one time because of lack of snow cover, but that has also disappeared.

One thing of note is the plant development. Even last fall we had flowers and shrubs blooming. It even seems like the maple trees have had the buds swelled and ready to go since about Thanksgiving. We can’t really do anything about flowers and shrubs "getting out of sync," but we can help prevent other problems from occurring.

Any extra growth by plants takes energy. This can be either vegetative or reproductive growth (leaves or flowers). Each time something grows it takes energy. The simplest way to help plants get over this energy loss is to keep them in good growing condition. Proper fertilizer and watering go a long way to accomplish this. In the case of evergreens (including the broadleaf evergreens such as holly, azaleas and rhododendrons) watering anytime during the winter when soils aren’t frozen is also a good idea.

Most plants would do well with about an inch of water per week. This would be the ideal. Most of the time, there is a surplus of water in the soil that can be used by plants when it doesn’t rain. This fall and winter there really hasn’t been much. This can lead to evergreens having brown needles or leaves. The plants basically lose more water than they can take up. Strong winds compound these problems. The simple solution is to run the hose or sprinkler when you can. Mulches to help prevent evaporation will also help. Use of an anti-transpirant or wind blocks will also keep needles or leaves from losing so much moisture.

When it comes to fertility, the rule of thumb is to apply about 15 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet of garden area to flowers, vegetables, trees, etc. Some literature says to limit applications to 10 pounds in areas where there is grass to avoid burning the grass. Don’t apply fertilizer at this time. It might actually spur growth. Fertilize during active growth periods such as May and August. If you have a soil test, you may fertilize according to needed nutrients.

Hopefully these tips will help you preserve valued landscape plantings. Please call the Extension office if you need further information.


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Master Gardeners graduate

The first class of Master Gardeners has had its first graduates. Master Gardeners undergo intensive training in various horticultural topics, pass a detailed exam, then volunteer 60 hours of service time to the community in horticultural education. Those completing service and now certified as Master Gardeners are Bob Graue, Russel Allen, Wilma Clark, Dorris Morris, Dr. David Kvitle, Mary Moore, Lisa Wrage and Pat Cooper.


A second Master Gardener training session will be this fall in Lincoln. To receive information, please contact Don Miller at the Extension office at millerd@mail.aces.uiuc.edu. More information on the program is available on the website at http://www.extension.uiuc.edu/mg/.

[John Fulton]

Tips on windbreak design

[JAN. 14, 2001]  With winter upon us, many of us think about the benefits of a windbreak. There is nothing like a windy January day to start the planning process. Here are some tips from Bob Frazee, natural resources Extension educator, on planning windbreaks.

A proper windbreak involves more than just planting a lot of trees around the farmstead. Windbreaks provide maximum benefits by sheltering buildings from winter winds, so the first thing to do is determine the direction of prevailing winds.

The prevailing winds for most of Illinois are from a northwesterly direction; so for the best protection, windbreaks should be located on the north and west sides of the farmstead.

The shapes of farmsteads vary, but the most effective and easily arranged windbreak is designed in the form of an L, with the point to the northwest. The windbreak should be set no closer than 50 feet from the buildings to prevent dead-air pockets around buildings in the summer and to minimize snowdrifts in the winter. If you have room, 100 feet is even better.


Generally, evergreen windbreaks consist of three rows, with trees in the middle row planted to alternate between those of the outside rows. The rows should be at least 16 feet apart, with the trees spaced 16 feet apart within the row. If planted too close to each other, the trees will crowd and shade each other as they mature, killing the lower branches needed to slow surface wind.

How many trees to buy is another consideration. One way to estimate the number of trees required is to multiply the length of the windbreak by 0.20. Most windbreaks need 100 to 150 trees. Buying a few extra trees might be wise, to replace losses or to plant around a garden.

For best protection, the windbreak should be continuous and uninterrupted, but if access is needed to nearby fields, avoid making gaps at the northwest corner or along the legs. This can be done by overlapping the legs, providing a continuous row of trees, yet allowing space for access to fields.



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You can attract songbirds and other wildlife to your windbreak and even discourage pest species by taking a few special considerations in the design stage. Windbreaks are valuable additions to wildlife habitat in regions of intensive agriculture. Although many species of wildlife will benefit from windbreaks, not all of them will be conspicuous. Some species are nocturnal and some are secretive. A good design and a well-laced bird feeder will bring many species into view.

The single most important variable influencing the use of a windbreak by wildlife is its size. The windbreak will be used by more wildlife in direct proportion to its length and width, that is, the number of rows and their length.


A diversity of shrub and evergreen species will attract more wildlife than will monotypic rows of single species. Various species produce fruit at different times of the year, providing modest amounts of food over an extended period of time. Where windbreaks are composed of just one or two species, the fruit comes on at one time and cannot be fully utilized by resident wildlife, or it may attract undesirable concentrations of migrating birds for brief periods in the fall. A diversity of tree and shrub species will also reduce the impact of insect or disease problems in the windbreak.

Species known to be good for attracting nesting birds include spruce, pine, arrowwood, and hawthorn. Species with favored fruits include American plum, Chokeberry, hawthorn, high-bush cranberry, arrowwood and dogwood.

Upcoming events

Jan. 29 — Illinois Tillage Seminar, Spring Valley; reservations by Jan. 22

Jan. 31 — Horse Nutrition Workshop, Lincoln; reservations by Jan. 24

Feb. 4 — Entomology Roundtable, Lincoln; reservations by Jan. 27

Feb. 12 — Illinois Tillage Conference, Bloomington; reservations by Feb. 5

[John Fulton]

Honors & Awards

Soil and Water Conservation District
annual meeting; FFAs honored

[FEB. 13, 2001]  Recognition and honors were awarded at the annual Logan County Soil and Water Conservation District meeting last Thursday night. Board member Tom Martin was presented a plaque for six years of service to the district. He is retiring from the board of directors.

[Tom Martin, at left, receives plaque from board member Doug Thompson of Atlanta for six years of service to the district.]

Martin and his family reside on a farm near Mount Pulaski. He has been active in conservation since the 1983. He has used conservation tillage over the years and has made numerous tree plantings and windbreaks, while also maintaining a pond.

He has held the offices of chairman and vice chairman for the Logan County SWCD. He has also been active in the Land of Lincoln Soil Savers Club. He served two years as their president and five years on their board of directors.

Local FFA chapters were also recognized at the meeting.



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[Hartsburg FFA members and instructors, from left to right, are ag teacher Betsy Pech, Shane Westen, Daniel Eeten, Kent Leesman and student teacher Nathan Sasse.]

[The Lincoln FFA was represented by Amanda Davison, Luke Gerardot and Emily Bakken.]

[Mount Pulaski FFA members and instructors, pictured from left to right, are student teacher Josh Meyer, Cara Cannon, Becky Tobias, Laura Reeter, chapter president Allison Anderson and ag instructor Ralph Allen.]

[Steve Bracey, resource conservationist]

Ag Announcements

Ag scholarship announced

[FEB. 18, 2002]  The Midwest Equipment Dealers Association, through its educational foundation, Midwest Equipment Foundation, will provide two $1,000 scholarships and four $750 scholarships for the 2002-03 school year to students enrolled in association-approved community college training programs.

A copy of the scholarship announcement brochure with scholarship rules, application form and listing of approved training programs has been provided to all high school vo-ag instructors and community colleges that provide MEDA-approved training programs. The deadline for scholarship applications is April 1.

Scholarship information can also be picked up at Central Illinois Ag’s Atlanta store, 200 Sharon St., 1 (800) 762-2325, or from MEDA directly at 1 (800) 236-6332.

[News release]

Tree sale order form

[JAN. 30, 2002]  Trees for spring planting are available through the Logan County Soil and Water Conservation District, 1650 Fifth Street Road. Evergreens are sold in bundles of 25 and hardwood is sold in bundles of five, but individual trees may also be purchased. The trees are scheduled to be delivered in April. Click below for an order form to print out, complete and return to the SWCD office with your payment by March 15.

[Click here for order form.]

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