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Abundant crops, lower prices

Local farmers see less money for high yield of corn, soybeans

Published: Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Joe White surveys part of his corn crop at his Kaneville area farm. White also serves as the president of the Kane County Farm Bureau.
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Joe White surveys part of his corn crop at his Kaneville area farm. White also serves as the president of the Kane County Farm Bureau.
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Most of Joe White's corn crop is thriving at his Kaneville area farm.
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Most of Joe White's corn crop is thriving at his Kaneville area farm.

A delayed spring season has not stopped Joe White’s corn crop so far this year.

The corn he planted in late April on his property in Kaneville Township already has pollinated, and he expects his early May planting to not be too far behind.

“With the weather we are predicting, it shouldn’t have any issues,” said White, who is the Kane County Farm Bureau Board president. White and his father, John, have slightly more than 1,200 acres of farmland across northern Illinois.

White’s crops mirror the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent crop condition reports, which are released every Monday. The latest report rated 82 percent of Illinois corn as good to excellent, up 1 percent from the previous week. For Illinois soybeans, 78 percent were rated as good to excellent, also up 1 percent from last week.

Farmers were able to make up some ground from a harsh winter season, which did affect the northern Illinois wheat and hay crops. Bob Gehrke, District 1 director of the Illinois Farm Bureau, said he lost 80 percent of his wheat crop and 20 percent of his alfalfa, or hay. Gehrke farms on 400 acres at his Plato Township property and is part of an operation totaling 1,800 acres.

“A lot of the wheat ended up getting replaced with corn and soybeans,” said Phil Farrell, grain department manager at the Elburn Cooperative. The Cooperative, or Coop, is owned by local farmers and helps provide them with agronomic services.

The abundant corn and soybean crops have driven down prices in the past few months, Farrell said. The Chicago Board of Trade listed the December futures price of corn in mid-May at $5.10 a bushel, and – as of Thursday morning – it was $3.70 a bushel. The November futures soybean price in May was $12.28 a bushel, and now it’s $10.80 a bushel, Farrell said.

Even though heavy rains in May and June ruined some of the northern Illinois soybean crop, its prices still are down because central Illinois crops did not see any of that precipitation, Farrell said.

Farmers agree that the best chance to offset their costs is to hope that they can have a higher-than-average yield of crops to sell at the below average price.

The upcoming weather is going to be a key factor to determine how crops will end up in the fall, Gehrke said. Even though the soybeans suffered under heavy rain earlier this summer, Gehrke said that it would be ideal to get an inch of rain twice this month to ensure the crops grow to their full potential.

In the end, farmers like Gehrke might have the same return than they would with a normal crop in a normal growing year.

“That’s the old saying, ‘You don’t know what you got until it’s in the bin,’ because there’s so many factors that can affect that right before you harvest,” Gehrke said.

On the Web

To view a photo list and video of Joe White on his Kaneville Township farmland, visit this story online at KCChronicle.com.

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