OCFB’s Kern: ‘Decent start’ to planting season in Ogle County 

Drought conditions have ‘improved greatly’ since last fall


OGLE COUNTY — Ogle County farmers have gotten a “decent start” to planting season, Ogle County Farm Bureau Manager Ron Kern said May 13. 

Kern said that some farmers have finished their planting of corn or soybeans, but estimated that no farmers in Ogle County have completely wrapped up yet with their spring planting work. With showers that have been hitting the area multiple times per week so far this month, farmers have been working between raindrops, he said. 

“I wouldn't say we're behind on planting,” Kern said. “Believe it or not even with the sporadic showers, it seems like we've only been out of the fields for a day or two. These rains have been followed by sunny weather with decent winds that have dried the soil out in a pretty fair manner. I think our biggest problem is that we have not been able to get into a rhythm. We farm for 2-3 days then sit for a day or two then we farm for 2-3 days again. We've seen that instead of a nice 7-10-day window to get out there and keep going.”

Kern said last year saw a dry spring that allowed for continuous planting work. He said due to the importance of rain, he won’t be complaining about this year’s conditions. Ogle County has been behind on moisture in fields for the past few years, but Kern said the conditions have “improved greatly” since last fall. 

The crops planted so far in Ogle County have taken well to the soil, Kern said. 

“From what I've seen, what we have in the ground is emerging,” Kern said. “Beans and corn both. They've got an excellent stand. In other words, most all of the crop that went in the ground is coming up. It's a decent start to the year. We still have 2-3 weeks to get everything in the ground to get where we want to be come June. I think farmers would say they're mildly happy.”

Workload for farmers during this time of year depends on what sort of production system they employ, whether their fields are no till, conventional till or minimum till, Kern said. Planting typically starts in the mornings and farmers wrap up by dark, unless they get behind. 

“I saw sprayers going out this weekend to spray herbicide to get rid of weeds,” Kern said. “And if you're one of those people that's lucky enough to have hay, it's probably needing a cutting right now. That requires about three days without getting rained on. There's a lot to do this time of year. And those with livestock obviously have livestock every day. It depends on what your system is.”

Kern advised the motoring public to be cautious while driving around agricultural equipment on roads during this time of year. He asked drivers to be patient and understand that farmers only can go so fast and are trying to get from field to field and off roadways as fast as they can.

“Not only pay attention to the equipment in front of you, but also pay attention to what's in front of the equipment,” Kern said. “If they approach things like guardrails, mailboxes and road signs, they may have to swing out into the other lane to get around those things with their equipment. Passing lanes may close quickly when they approach those things. Try to anticipate what they're seeing out of the cab too.”

In the grander scheme of agriculture, Kern said he’s expecting a possible vote on a new federal farm bill during the week of May 19-25. He hopes an end result to that will maintain crop insurance, which has become something all farmers use to manage risk. He’d also like to see more emphasis put on trade agreements, which could help with imports, as well crop prices, which Kern said are currently “somewhat depressed.”. 

At the state level, the Illinois Farm Bureau has been active this year in the general assembly to get changes made to the state estate tax that impacts how farmland passes from generation to generation.

“When some of these farms pass from generation to generation, and the new generation has to sell off some of the farm just to pay the taxes, that's not a good scenario,” Kern said. “Because usually when you're passing it on to the next generation, they're farming the land. They need that land for their operation and having to sell it off to pay the taxes doesn't seem right. Hopefully that issue gets settled with the state. It's something the IFB has been working on for decades and I hope the time is right for it.”

As summer in Ogle County comes into sight, Kern detailed a small wish list to keep farmers on track for harvest this fall.

“I would love to see temperatures never get above 94 degrees and an inch of rain every week,” Kern said.