OGLE COUNTY – Ogle County Farm Bureau Manager Ron Kern said last week that county farmers have harvested “well over” 90 percent of crops and yield results have started to come in.
“There’s maybe still a spot of beans or corn out there,” Kern said. “I’ve noticed fertilizer going on and field work being done. That means it’s wrapped up. From what I’m hearing, the summer dryness and spotty rain, it sounds like the bean crop was average to above average and the corn on average was off 5-10 percent and more in some spots.”
Kern said while looking at the fields throughout the year, he believed the bean crop would be the star of the 2021 show, and that turned out to be true. He said some farmers had optimism about the corn crop, but a dry spell took off some yield and “the numbers just haven’t shown up.”
The year of farming in the county started off “pretty well” according to Kern. After being dry from last fall, winter brought moisture.
“And then it got dry and we started struggling,” Kern said. “The rain we did get, it seemed like it came right when we absolutely needed it. Harvest I think saw mild and fair weather. The crops dried down pretty well. I didn’t see as many dryers running. That saved our farmers some cost. And obviously gas prices wouldn’t have been helping them.”
Some of the mid-harvest rain that came did keep farmers out of fields, but Kern said due to the dryness before that, much of the rain got into the ground quickly. An August windstorm did down “a lot of” corn and forced harvesters to cut down machine speed.
Farmers have not been immune to rising prices across all industries. Fuel prices of diesel and gas are up, but luckily a lot of farmers contract gallons ahead of time at a fixed price. Another spike has been seen in the price of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, which Kern said is three times the price of what it was a year.
To combat that, farmers could switch fields from corn to beans, which don’t need anhydrous ammonia. Some could cut back on the rate they use. Kern believes “the smart guys” will be doing a lot of soil testing to see how much fertilizer they need.
“A lot of guys are scratching their heads about that,” Kern said. “I suppose you could see guys switching corn acres to bean acres, but the University of Illinois said it expects more corn next year. I don’t know how. Some input costs will go through the roof. I’m not sure about 2022 and what it will look like with things like that going on. But commodity prices improving recently does help.”
As far as 2022’s weather, Kern said he’s read it’s going to be cold with average or above average precipitation. He’s ready to look forward after the year that was.
“Every harvest is a journey and an adventure,” Kern said “Thank God we got through this year unscathed. I guess that means we can call it a good year.”