Fall 2019 Logan County
Farm Outlook Magazine

Introduction:  The year that almost wasn’t
By John Fulton, Special Ag Consultant

Send a link to a friend  Share

[November 04, 2019]  What a year of ups and downs! This statement could be talking about the expectations of producers, or the precipitation.

From the period of March to June, I recorded almost 20 inches of rain. On top of the amount, the number of rain events during the period kept things – well, wet. Living in the northern half of the county, my rainfall paled by comparison to some in the southern part.

Instead of the recent tradition of planting in April and early May, most of our acres were planted in the latter parts of May and into June.

Along comes July, and less than two inches fell at our place, and it was rather hot as well. Due to many acres being planted much later than normal, pollination happened to coincide with the hot weather for many.

Many producers wrestled with the option of taking prevented plant payments through the Federal Crop Insurance Program. June 5th was considered the last planting date for full coverage under Federal Crop, and a late planting window with a percent-a-day reduction in coverage between June 6 and June 25 also existed. After much head scratching, and some limited breaks in the weather, most acres were planted in Logan County.

A prominent example from the University of Illinois FAST program showed prevented plant coverage returning $368 per acre (not including land costs) and planting corn on June 6th returned $335 under the same scenario.

Of course there are always other considerations, such as the $76 per acre payment from the Market Facilitation Program (basically a calculated offset caused by tariffs) only payed on planted acres. Northern Illinois and states to the east had many more acres of prevented plant.

The agriculture industry remains busy looking for ways to supplement income for producers and processors. Corn and soybeans have been predominant in central Illinois for many years, and will continue to be in the foreseeable future.

However, there is always room for some specialty or alternative crops on limited acreage. Pumpkins for decoration or processing are not new, but acreage continues to expand in Logan County. Logan County is traditionally in the top counties for pumpkin production, and Illinois is the top state for production due to the location of the Nestle/Libby pumpkin processing plant in Morton.

Another opportunity is industrial hemp. Several varieties exist with specific uses including fiber, grain, and CBD oil. Growers applying for a permit even have to declare what varieties they are intending to grow. Industrial hemp will present a steep learning curve for those who wish to give it a whirl as WWII was the last era of widespread production in central Illinois. Many have compared its production to growing tobacco with some rather intensive labor requirements.

Producers and entrepreneurs continue to look at fruit production, specialty livestock, honey production, and organic production. All these enterprises require some market development as mainstream markets remain limited in our area of the country. The demand side of the equation continues to grow for locally grown items.

With harvest continuing, yields have been anywhere from a major disappointment to surprising. While they may be better than expected over all, they still remain 10 to 20 percent off of last year’s lofty numbers. Prices offered for corn and soybeans have trended up some, but the trade situation is still weighing on the markets.

[to top of second column

One of the major problems with this year’s farming season, outside of the rain this spring, was the fact little to no fall work was accomplished last year. Once again, this was due to wet conditions.

When looking at the recently released 90 day outlook from the National Weather Service, this fall looks like above average precipitation and no defined trend for temperatures (equal chances of above average, normal, and below average).

Is the climate changing? Most would say yes. The debate really begins when the discussion falls into the differing opinions and science on what is happening, why it is happening, and what might be done about it. Humans certainly aren’t helping anything with the myriad of things we do, such as enact laws that prevent underbrush removal that later lends fuel to wild fires. There is a reported cycle of warming and cooling, which has gone on since recorded events began, and unusual events such as widespread fires and volcanic eruptions certainly provide fodder for discussion.

If my memory serves me correctly, local weather service records indicate more torrential rainfall events, but actually less severe weather (such as tornadoes) over the past several years.

To sum things up for the growing season, it was a challenging year with a better than anticipated outcome – at least so far. Producers, and the agribusinesses which support the producers, accomplished a tremendous feat this year in producing a crop.

It is remarkable Logan County produced over $245 million in ag products for 2017 according to the latest Census of Agriculture.

The agriculture industry in Logan County will continue to look for ways to improve operations, increase income, and remain profitable in spite of the many uncertainties it faces.

Read all the articles in our new
2019 Fall Farm Outlook Magazine

Introduction - The year that almost wasn't 4
Pictorial - The year that almost wasn't 7
Climate expectations for Logan County 13
Growing Hemp:  Profitable but challenging 17
The impact of Trump Bucks, Donny Dollars 24
Putting obstacles in the way of pests 27
Is horticulture a viable option for small farms in Logan County 32
Local farmer gets a piece of the pie - pumpkin pie 38
Farm Businesses qualify for low interest loans 42
Farm safety tips 44


Back to top