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Late week spring fever prevalent

Jason Webster works on the Precision Planting research farm near Pontiac Friday / CIFN photo.

PONTIAC – Farmers finally got spring fever late in the week as temperatures climbed and strong winds helped to dry out the soil.

There weren’t too many planter sightings in Central Illinois Thursday or Friday, although some growers could be seen leveling ground in preparation for planting which should be taking place now, according to the calendar.

Precision Planting commercial agronomist Jason Webster was working ground at the company’s new research farm along Interstate 55 just west of Pontiac.

“We are going to work a little bit of ground today and if all goes according to plan, we’ll put a couple of planting dates in as well,” Webster said on Friday afternoon. “It’s fit now but we still have cooler soil temperatures and we’ve got maybe snow coming over the weekend.”

Webster likes to put sample strips in the ground as an experiment to see if early planting pays off or if it costs growers extra yield in the end. Spring tillage on the research farm is minimal since the primary tillage was done last fall. Once the ground is leveled off, the company will plant right into it.

Precision Planting’s new research farm is 200 acres – providing plenty of room to run equipment and perform research trials.

“This is the farm that we’ve been waiting for because now growers can come out here and see the agronomy with our field days, but it’s actually hands-on demonstrations,” Webster added.

A new product from Precision Planting this year is called SmartFirmer which manages soil residue, organic matter and moisture in real time as the planter is moving through the field.

Several Central Illinois farmers took advantage of the late-week dry spell to do various projects on the farm. Tony Koss of Monticello was installing tile before hooking up his tractor to the soybean planter while Terry Bose of Anchor spent time raking rock. Jay Whalen, who farms in the Flanagan and Streator areas, was applying nitrogen and spring strips.

All of the recent fieldwork came to a sudden halt once again Friday evening and early Saturday as more showers and thunderstorms passed through the area creating soggy fields.

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