Stanford Mail

Caring for Your Garden in the Summer Heat

Temperatures are looking to rise again this week, making now a great time to talk about how to help care for your garden crops in the hot and dry times of summer. Late July through August can tend to be very hot and it is important that you are taking proper care of your crops to get them through when they are ready to be picked from the garden. Some plants can tolerate the heat better than others. When you consider that most plants are made up of 85 to 90 percent of water, it makes more sense why plants need extra attention in the heat. 

The Importance of Crop Scouting a Field

Crop scouting is when fields are evaluated for pest and disease problems, or for checking in on growth progress. Scouting is important because if a problem of any kind is found in the field, it can be solved or managed as quickly as possible. This process is critical for farmers to grow their best crops and have the highest yields possible, which allows them to make the most profit. Crop scouting is a critical tool to protect a farmer’s investment in each field.

Agriculture and the Fourth of July

Like many holidays, the Fourth of July is connected to agriculture! In the spirit of celebrating our Independence Day this weekend, we can look at a quote about agriculture from Thomas Jefferson. The Founding Father and former president stated, “Agriculture.. is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to wealth, good morals, and happiness…”. Jefferson proclaimed the importance of agriculture in our country in a letter he wrote to George Washington. 

Dairy Farms in Central Illinois

All dairy products like milk and cheese start by the production and care of dairy cows on a dairy farm. Dairy farming is when farmers raise mother animals and use their milk to feed humans. Other dairy products than milk and cheese include butter, yogurt, ice cream and more. Byproducts from dairy farms are even used for nonfood purposes. Byproducts allow for an operation to produce more goods and be useful for as much as they possibly can. 

Standards Apply for Organic Farming

When you look through a produce section at the grocery store, you will likely find both organic and nonorganic items for sale. To be labeled organic, foods must meet United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards. Companies or farmers can not just label something “organic” without meeting these standards. The USDA sets organic standards for crops and livestock, as well as the handling process. 

June Agriculture Happenings

It is summer time now and planted crops are showing throughout our area. When you look into the fields, you can find small corn and soybeans plants. Farmers that grow hay are looking to cut and bale their crop, then it will go through the growing cycle again. Now that crops are in the ground, farmers will monitor them for weed control, any fertilizer needs, or other pest management practices. On the livestock side, chores to care for the animals likely stay the same. However, during the hot summer months farmers will ensure that their animals are being checked frequently for signs of overheating and put preventative measures into place. Farmers with livestock also may be preparing their animals for fair season and livestock competitions. 

Vilsack Announces Transformation of Food System

On Wednesday, June 1st, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, announced during a speech at Georgetown University that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a framework set in place to transform the food system. Vilsack stated that, “The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of a food system built around large-volume production and national supply chains,” according to Successful Farming. The framework that is in place will benefit consumers, producers, and rural communities. It will accomplish this through providing more options, increasing access, and creating improved markets for small and mid-size producers. 

Wine Country in Your Own Backyard

Last week we discussed what agritourism is and some of the agritourism that our area has to offer. Mackinaw Valley Winery is located on Route 9 just a few miles outside of Mackinaw, IL between the towns of Mackinaw and Danvers. 2022 is the 19th Anniversary of the winery being open for business and the 25th year that the vineyards have been in operation. Paul Hahn is the founder of the winery and his wife, Diane Hahn, is the manager. Diane explained, “My husband Paul founded the winery and vineyards. He started growing in 1997 and in 2003 we opened to the public with the winery tasting room.” 

Agritourism in Central Illinois

The University of Illinois Extension defines Agritourism as “any business activity that brings the public to a farm or rural setting in an effort to market farm raised or produced products or for the enjoyment of related outdoor activities”. Oftentimes you will find agritourism as small, local businesses on the main streets of local communities or locations just outside of rural communities. Popular examples of agritourism in Illinois include pumpkin patches, berry farms, orchards, wineries, corn mazes, farmers markets, bed and breakfasts, and more! The diversity of these businesses offers a wide variety of products and services to their visitors, who are typically consumers who enjoy the experience of visiting the location as much as what they may purchase from there. 
Agritourism helps rural communities grow economically. The United States Travel Association states that travel and tourism is an over one-billion-dollar industry for the U.S. and generates more than 9 million jobs. The last Census of Agriculture was taken in 2017 and said that 28,575 farms offered agritourism and recreational services that year. Those 28,575 farms generated 949 million dollars in sales. The next Census of Agriculture is to be performed this year, where the number of farms that offer agritourism is expected to increase. Between 2007 and 2017 alone, agritourism grew by 67% and the growth has not been on the decline since then. Some reasons why agritourism is a developing business is because of the opportunity to increase revenue through diversification and the opportunity to make use of underutilized farm resources. In addition, adding agritourism to your operation can offset the costs of rural property ownership and possibly allow for early retirement. It is also a chance to make a business out of a hobby. This may be for wine making, baking, crafting, gardening, hunting, and more. 

Ukrainian Agriculture Update

The Russian war against Ukraine continues overseas, affecting so many lives tragically. When the conflict first arose, we discussed what it may mean for agriculture if the conflict continued into war. To recap, in the February 27th edition of this newspaper we discussed how important Ukraine is to agriculture globally. 70 percent of the country is covered in agricultural land. Franco Ordoñez from The National Public Radio ( explains, “Ukraine is one of the biggest producers of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, and the war has wreaked havoc on the so-called ‘breadbasket of Europe’.” Looking back at our February 27th edition, it was stated that if the Ukraine-Russia tensions turn for the worse, it will likely cause a spike up in agricultural commodity prices because of how large of a wheat producer that Ukraine is. Also that the length of the spike would most likely be determined by how long the potential conflict would last. Unfortunately, over two months later, the conflict is still going on. Grain prices have risen and will likely continue to rise. In today’s edition we look at the update on how the war has affected the agriculture industry. 

Hydroponics: Growing Without Soil

When most people think of growing plants, they think of something growing out of the ground in a garden, field, planting pot, etc. However, there are other ways to grow plants besides just planting into soil. Hydroponics is a way to grow plants without using soil. It can be done outdoors or indoors, and is a great option if you have little gardening space. Hydroponics takes less water than gardening in soil. There are also no issues with weeds because you are growing in water rather than soil. 

Starting Your Own Composting System

Composting is something that you can do to benefit your garden and lawn care. It is free to do, easy to make, and is good for the environment! The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines compost as “organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow”. Starting your own composting pile can help reduce your food waste. More than 30% of what Americans throw away is food scraps and yard waste, two things that can be reused for composting instead! 
The EPA lists multiple benefits of composting. First, it enriches your soil by helping to retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Second, it reduces the need for added chemical fertilizers. Third, composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter. This creates “humus”, which is a rich nutrient-filled material that benefits your plants. The last benefit that the EPA lists is that composting reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint. 

Dates to Know for Gardeners in Planting Season

As we start to see more and more farmers out in the field, the excitement of the growing season ahead grows more and more. It is not only planting season for the corn and soybean farmers, but planting season for gardening is right around the corner. How early you can plant depends on the hardiness of the vegetables you are planting and the exact climate of your area. The University of Illinois provides information on what their recommendations for the planting period of vegetables are for Central Illinois. They choose their recommendation by the average last 32℉ freeze of the winter and the hardiness of each vegetable. The following is the information that they provide for many common vegetables. 

Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared April 2022 Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month (IPPDAM). This month is dedicated to “highlighting the impact invasive plant pests and diseases have on plant health nationwide”, according to Suzanne Bond and Cecilia Sequeira of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is part of the USDA. Bond and Sequeira also highlighted that another purpose of the month is to educate Americans about the simple actions they can take to help reduce their spread (of invasive plant pests and diseases). Invasive Plant and Pest Disease Awareness Month (IPPDAM) was established with the purpose to raise public awareness about the threat. Invasive plant and pest diseases can devastate livelihoods, food security, and forests. 

L-R: Isabelle Forrest, Tarah Hilt, Rylee Robb, McKenna Lally, Shelby Lynch, Anna Kindred, Libby Shaffer, Paige Finchum, Nick Siebert, Blake Buatte, Brooke Rogers, Anna Sanders and Kendall Leimbach.

Olympia FFA Places 2nd at Dairy Cattle and Horticulture CDE

On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, thirteen Olympia FFA members competed at the Section 9 FFA Dairy Cattle Judging Career Development Event (CDE) at two farms near Flanagan and Pontiac, IL.  The team placed 2nd out of 7.  Junior Isabelle Forrest led the team by placing 3rd overall individual.  Other Olympia FFA members in the top 10 included:  Paige Finchum (5th), Libby Shaffer (9th) and Tarah Hilt (10th).  Other team members included Rylee Robb, Anna Sanders, Brooke Rogers, Kendall Leimbach, Shelby Lynch, Blake Buatte, McKenna Lally, Nick Siebert, and Anna Kindred.  FFA members judged six classes, three of which were cow classes.  The other three classes were judging heifers.  “I’m really proud of how all of our FFA members competed.  They did a really good job and didn’t let the poor weather conditions affect them,” stated Mr. Hoffman.   

2022 USDA Farm Acreage Estimates

Spring planting is almost here and our farmers continue to work hard to be ready when their opportunity to get in the field comes. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released their 2022 Ag Outlook, which reports what they expect the upcoming planting season to look like. They stated that it is expected to see more soybean acres and slightly less corn this year. According to Jenna Hoffman from AgWeb Farm Journal, the USDA predicts farmers will plant 92 million acres of corn and 88 million acres of soybeans. Corn acreage planted for the 2021 growing season was 93.4 million acres, which was an increase by 2.7 million acres from the 2020 growing season. Soybean acreage planted for the 2021 growing season was 87.2 million acres, which was an increase by 3.8 million acres from 2020. Wheat is also projected to increase for this 2022 growing season at 48 million acres planted. In 2021, there were 46.7 million acres of the crop and in 2020 there was 44.5 million acres. 

2021-2022 Olympia Sophomore FFA Members

Olympia Attends 2022 McLean County Farm Bureau Acquaintance Day

Thirty-two Olympia FFA sophomores had the opportunity to “network” their name when they attended the McLean County Farm Bureau Acquaintance Day on Tuesday, January 11th. Students started out the morning by listening to an inspiring speech by former Olympia FFA Member and State FFA Vice President, Molly Schempp, who encouraged each member to be the best they can be, work towards achieving their goals, and to take advantage of the many opportunities that FFA provides. After breaking into groups, students played three games led by the 4-H camp director and employees, who taught participants about the importance of having good communication and problem solving skills in the workplace as well as meeting new people in order to diversify their agricultural knowledge. After activities, students were able to explore different agricultural careers, and network their own names to the local agriculture representatives. Students cycled through table stations and heard information about each agricultural career opportunity. Students even had the option to drive a Case IH tractor or combine! After a delicious catered lunch, students listened to another keynote speaker who advised students to be careful about what they are posting or saying on social media, and to make good choices and take hold of opportunities that will help them in the future. Students ended the day with agricultural trivia and escape box games. Trinity Weeks reflected on the trip saying, “my favorite part was being able to test drive a large tractor. It was a new and exciting experience for me.” Kaitlynn Whitecotton said, “I enjoyed meeting other FFA members from the other schools that I wouldn’t normally get to meet. The lunch was also really great!”

Innovative Technology in Agriculture

The world population is predicted to be 9.9 billion people by 2050, which would be a 2.1 billion increase from the 2020 World Population Data Sheet. There is currently 13,003 million hectares of land area on the globe and 4,889 million hectares of the 13,003 mil. ha. are considered agricultural area. That number is estimated to decrease as well due to more of the land area needed for living space for the additional amount of people. The global food demand is expected to increase by 50% by 2050. So, people in the agriculture industry have a challenge that they have been facing, and will continue to face for years. People in agriculture have to figure out how to feed more people with less space to grow. On top of that, they have to find ways to farm in sustainable ways to preserve that agricultural land that they do have to work with. This is not an easy feat. 

How Farmers Prepare for Planting

Planting is just around the corner and farmers in our area are preparing for this growing season. With the expense of input costs at a high, farmers will focus on controlling what they can control and that will be how much they can prepare before planting. Right now, most farmers are focusing on getting their equipment out and serviced. Specifically for planters, farmers want to make sure that all parts are performing their best and that they get any worn parts replaced. Specific parts to check would be microtubes, splitters, and pumps on all fertilizer equipment. Farmers want to ensure that there is no old residue or any dirty or clogged nozzles that could lead to an uneven distribution of a product. 

Fast Facts and National Agriculture Day

March has officially begun and we can look ahead to the exciting growing season to come. Another exciting thing that we can look forward to in March is National Agriculture Day! National Agriculture Day will be celebrated on March 22, 2022, according to the Agriculture Council of America. Communities and classrooms across America celebrate agriculture on the designated day. 2022 is the 49th anniversary of National Ag Day. This year’s theme for the day is “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow”. 

Ukraine-Russia Conflict & Agriculture

The Ukraine-Russia tension has escalated further during this past week, and it is important to see how the current tension (and where it may lead) could affect the agriculture industry. Did you know that Ukraine is a key factor of agriculture globally? 70 percent of the country is covered in agricultural land. According to Sara Schafer of AgWeb Farm Journal, “In 2020, Ukraine’s agricultural sector generated approximately 9.3% of GDP.” Schafer continued, “Crop farming, which accounts for 73% of agricultural output, dominated Ukrainian agriculture, according to the International Trade Administration.” Ukraine mainly produces sunflowers (they are 1st globally in sunflower seed production), corn, wheat, barley, and soybeans. 

Starting Your Garden Indoors

Although it may not seem like it with this snowy weather, spring planting is right around the corner! You can get a head start on your garden this year by creating your own indoor growing area. Plugs are always a good option if you do not have the time to start your own seeds indoors, you have had trouble with seed germination, or more, but plugs are not worth the cost for everyone. 

Upcoming National FFA Week

National FFA Week is approaching fast. The annual celebration will occur on February 19th through February 26th. FFA chapters around the country will celebrate. The Olympia FFA Chapter plans to be able to celebrate very similar to how they were able to pre-COVID! The celebration will consist of an all-school assembly, dress up days, events, and much more. The National FFA encourages FFA members everywhere to participate in their schools, in-person somewhere else, on social media, or wherever they have access to celebrate. The National FFA describes the purpose of the week by stating, “It’s a time to share what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day.

Precision Planting Winter Conference 2022

Precision Planting Winter Conference 2022 has come and gone, and the event brought exciting news, learning opportunities, and new connections to farmers across the country. The closest location for our local farmers to attend the conference was held in Tremont, IL. Winter Conference 2022 concluded on January 21st. Precision Planting Regional Manager, Eric Huber, worked with me to help bring you an in-depth recap of what the conference had to offer this year.

How Livestock Stays Warm During Winter

With the cold temperatures we experienced this past week it was hard to stay warm even when walking from your car to inside a building. In my mind this raised the question, “How do farmers keep their livestock warm during the cold winter months?” By using prior knowledge and doing some additional research, I have come up with the answer to how farmers keep their animals warm. The process goes further in depth than just these things, but it really comes down to a few key strategies. 1. It is important to keep enough feed available to the animals. 2. Farmers make sure that they are shielding their livestock from the elements. 3.It is critical to protect the livestock from moisture (this one is a really big deal). 4. The fourth factor is to manage mud as much as possible. 5. Finally, the animals must have dry bedding and water available. 

Different Types of Farms

Here in Central Illinois, we are surrounded by farm ground, which makes it easy to lose perspective on how many different types of farms there really are. Especially for record keeping, it is important to have a classification system to be able to categorize farms of various types and sizes. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses a categorization system developed by the Economic Research Service (ERS) for reporting and evaluation. According to the USDA, this system classifies farms mainly depending on “annual gross cash farm income of the farm business, the primary occupation of the operator, and ownership of the farm”. As a reminder, gross income is total income from all sources before deductions are made or expenses and taxes. In the ERS classification system, farm size is measured by annual gross cash farm income (GCFI), which is the measure of the farm’s revenue. The ERS defines farm revenue as, “sales of crops and livestock, payments made under agricultural federal programs, and other farm-related cash income including fees from production contracts.” Now, let’s get into the 4 branches of ERS classification and the explanation of each (provided by the USDA and the ERS).

Precision Planting Winter Conference

Precision Planting Winter Conference 2022 is coming up quickly, and if you are able to attend it is an event you do not want to miss! Precision Planting is a company that provides precision ag technologies to help farmers grow in the smartest and most beneficial way possible. Their business began at their Tremont, IL location. Every year they host a winter conference to educate farmers from all over. Precision Planting describes the conference as, “Winter Conference is a free event for farmers to hear topics focused on improving farm operations, learn new strategies and techniques, and connect with other farmers.” Over 5,000 farmers globally attend the event.

Christmas Tree Farms

Christmas time is in full swing with the holiday being less than one week away! A key component of most household Christmas decor is a Christmas tree. Christmas trees are connected to agriculture because (if you are looking for a fresh tree), you will likely find yours on or provided by a local Christmas Tree Farm. According to the University of Illinois, “98% of Christmas trees are grown on farms, while only 2% are cut from the wild.” The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the season of winter dates back to before Christ, however the first decorated Christmas tree occurred in 1510 in Riga, Latvia. The Christmas tree has come a long way since 1510. Now, there are about 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold throughout the United States. More tree varieties are used for the trees aside from Evergreens. Some other varieties include Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Scotch Pine, Blue Spruce, and more. The Scotch Pine variety is the most common to be grown in Illinois. 

Ag Input Concerns

Farmers are currently facing challenges as they transition into preparing for the 2022 planting season. The price of farm inputs is rising, and it is happening quickly. Supply chain issues are part of the story behind this problem. Three out of every ten farmers in the country expect input prices to rise over 8%, and unfortunately more farmers are moving towards this belief. Some even believe that input prices could be raised by a higher percentage than 8%. 

Progressive Ag Services

Progressive Ag Services is an agriculture consulting and service business, owned by Matt Boudeman and Paul Schell. Matt started the company in 2014 and Paul joined in 2015. Tyler Scroggins was hired for precision sales and agronomy support in March of 2021. Tyler is the company’s first full-time employee. Progressive Ag Services’ building is located outside of Minier, IL on Olympia Road. The company offers the following services to their customers: Granular Agronomy, Precision Planting, and other technology services. Their customers are located in roughly three clusters of locations. The Atlanta/McLean area, around Mason City/New Holland, and generally the surrounding Bloomington area. Granular Agronomy is used for nitrogen modeling and variable rate recommendations. Precision Planting offers after-market, retrofit parts to enhance planter performance. These tools, along with their other technology services, allow Matt, Paul, and Tyler to provide the best solutions for farmers to maximize their field potential and their profit.

Dairy Industry Exports

With the uncertainty of imports and their cost being so high right now, it would be easy to think that all areas of agriculture are taking a hit and struggling through this year. However, one specific area of agriculture is doing really well right now. That area is the exports from the dairy industry. Dairy exports are on track to hit new records as we close out this calendar year. The United States dairy industry mainly exports to China, Canada, and Mexico. There are 133 total countries that received U.S. exports. China has been buying lots of dairy products recently. Throughout the first half of 2021, U.S. dairy exports to China increased by 32%. This is excellent news not just because of the increase in profit, but because of the concerns and challenges the dairy industry faced mainly in 2020.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving celebrations have wrapped up by now, and we hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. A Thanksgiving feast is prepared by families across the country. It’s a time when family members can present their best dish for the traditions of food their family has on the holiday. The feast is rarely complete without the main dish, the turkey. The average American consumes 16 pounds of turkey each year. The practice of turkey farming is how each family is able to have a Thanksgiving turkey on their table each year. 

Favorite Harvest Meals This Year

At this point of the harvest season, Illinois farmers are 95% done harvesting corn and 93% done with soybeans, according to the USDA. Farmers work long and inconsistent hours throughout harvest to accomplish everything that must be done on a strict time schedule. There is usually a pretty small window where weather conditions and each individual field conditions line up to where it is ideal to harvest. You can see farmers out in the field early in the morning or late in the night. On average, farmers will work 80 hour work weeks during harvest. The unusual hours and stressful conditions make us consider many things about what it would be like to be in those farmer’s shoes. However, today we dive deeper into one important question: What does a farmer eat while they are harvesting their crop? We hear what local farmers have to say as an answer. 

Farm Work Moves Inside for Winter

November brings the transition from one season of farming to another. The temperature really starts to drop, we see empty fields everywhere, and farmers start to move their work inside for the winter season. Today, we take a look into some of the current happenings for our local farmers. 

Ag Input Concerns

Farmers are currently facing challenges as they transition into preparing for the 2022 planting season. The price of farm inputs is rising, and it is happening quickly. Supply chain issues are part of the story behind this problem. Three out of every ten farmers in the country expect input prices to rise over 8%, and unfortunately more farmers are moving towards this belief. Some even believe that input prices could be raised by a higher percentage than 8%. 

Pumpkin Production in Illinois

Happy Halloween! One of my favorite Halloween traditions is carving pumpkins and seeing all of the creative ideas my family members come up with. Creativity is essential to create the best pumpkin out of my family members, but having the pumpkins to carve is the most critical part of the process. Did you know that six states in the United States produce the majority of pumpkins sold in the country? 

Halloween’s Connection to Agriculture

Next Sunday, October 31st, the celebration of Halloween will take place. The familiar sights of costumes, candy, and decorated yards and buildings will be present on the 31st and before. Although we typically associate Halloween items and activities with just the holiday, a lot of the Halloween fun is connected to agriculture.

A Diversity of Crops

Although Illinois is known for being a leading producer in corn and soybeans, the state has a larger diversity in the crops grown than just those two crops. The climate and soil types that vary throughout the state allow for farmers to grow wheat, oats, grain sorghum, fruits, and many vegetables. Some specialty crops that are able to grow include buckwheat, horseradish, and Christmas trees. Illinois is able to grow such a wide variety because our state extends 400 miles from the northern border to the most southern part of the state. Within the 400-mile range, temperatures can vary 10 to 12 degrees, allowing for different growing seasons. For the soil, 89% of the state’s farmland is considered prime farmland according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. McLean County has soil known as “drummer soil”, and it is some of the best soil in the world. 

Get to Know the National FFA

FFA is a youth organization focused on agriculture and leadership. There are local FFA chapters (like the Olympia High School FFA Chapter), state FFA associations (which are made up of the local chapters), and the National FFA Organization. The National FFA Organization is led by a board of directors and six student national officers. There are just above 735,000 National FFA members. Before we dig deeper into the National FFA Organization, it is important to understand and appreciate how the organization is able to do what it does today. 

Harvest 2021 Update

Since the first day the combines were able to get into the field this season, there has been almost a non-stop flow of work to be done. Harvest 2021 is moving fast this year, especially for farmers who have corn to harvest. The corn has dried down really fast. Some farmers are finishing up harvesting their corn already. Soybeans aren’t moving at quite the same pace as corn is and are actually in need of a little bit of rain. September was a dry month for Central IL in terms of rainfall. A lot of soybeans are too dry right now, causing many farmers to hope for rain. 

Hurricane Ida’s Agricultural Damage

Although we are roughly 850 miles away from where Hurricane Ida struck land, the effects on agriculture from the hurricane can be felt across the nation. While the damage is more detrimental to Louisiana residents, we will highlight a few of the areas where we could feel the effect here in Central IL. First, it is important to look at what damage has been done to Louisiana agriculture to understand the effects that it could have on us. 

Fall Vegetable Garden

Gardening season is here yet again! This phrase seems “wrong” to say at this time of year with fall harvest occurring, but it is possible to plant a fall vegetable garden outside despite the declining temperatures. To harvest your crop in time you will want to begin soon. This is dependent on what you choose to plant, but a great rule of thumb is to take the average first fall frost date and work backwards with the amount of time the vegetable needs to grow. If possible, you will want to add a little extra time because of the shorter amount of sunlight than in the spring. Frost typically begins in our area mid-October, so this would be a good year for vegetables with a short harvest season. However, knowing that a fall vegetable garden can be planted is useful information for all future fall seasons! If you do want to try to plant something that takes longer to grow, it is not impossible. Crops can be covered with an old sheet, blanket, or tarp when frost is in the forecast and some vegetables you may choose to plant can withstand a frost that stays at 32℉. Spinach, cabbage, radishes, and broccoli can survive frost temperatures down to 28℉.

Farm Progress Show

Decatur, IL welcomed the Farm Progress Show to their town August 31st through September 2nd. The annual event alternates between the Decatur location, on odd-numbered years, and a location in Boone, Iowa, who hosts on even-numbered years. The first Farm Progress Show made its appearance as an event on October 2, 1953. It was held at the Earl Bass Farm in Armstrong, IL and had over 75,000 visitors in attendance. The purpose of the event is to display progress that is currently being made in equipment, seed varieties, and chemicals. The Farm Progress Show website summarizes the show’s history into three sentences. They state, “Every day, agribusinesses and manufacturers are hard at work designing and building products. If you want a better glimpse of what tomorrow’s agriculture will look like, the Farm Progress Show is a must-stop. After all, this has been the legacy since the show began.” The show first arrived in Decatur in 2005. The Decatur location can now host over 600 exhibitors and more visitors than ever. The Farm Progress show is sponsored by Grinnell Mutual, John Deer, and Syngenta. 

Harvest Safety Tips

Harvest is right around the corner, and it is critical to know about safety on the road, safety for the field, and equipment safety. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevent, often referred to as the CDC, agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. The CDC states, “Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries; and farming is one of the few industries in which family members (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries.” Everyday about 100 workers in the agriculture industry will suffer an injury that will take them out of work for any given amount of time. This information doesn’t take into account rural residents that don’t work in the industry and have encounters with farmers during harvest. 

Armyworms Invasion

Armyworms have invaded hay fields all across Central Illinois, and many local farmers took action against the insect this past week. The armyworms, which are fall armyworms or scientifically named spodoptera frugiperda, invade in late summer or early fall. They are unable to survive the cold winter months. The fall armyworm prefers drought-like conditions. They are usually most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon.