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View from the Cab: Looking back


By: Kent Casson


From a fairly quick spring planting season and a delayed harvest to the return of ag shows, plenty happened in local agriculture during 2021.


When I spoke with Woodford County farmer Rob Shaffer in early May, he was busy putting soybeans in the ground while enjoying the sunshine.


“We’ve got the bean planters running and we are going to try and finish our beans up before the rain comes,” Shaffer said.


It had been almost two years since many county fairs in Illinois were held and that changed over the summer with the opening of the Ford County Fair at Melvin. Reigning queen Evie Ellis told The Central Illinois Farm Network the fair, which traditionally kicks off the summer fair slate around here, is a big family event. Other county fairs were held throughout the state this past summer after the pandemic cancelled activities in 2020.


The annual Half Century of Progress at Rantoul drew large crowds in late August at the old Air Force base in east central Illinois. Farm broadcaster Max Armstrong says they are blessed to have the massive facility. Close to a thousand acres are utilized for the show – which includes actual demonstrations of old equipment.


The largest outdoor farm show returned to Illinois with the opening of the 2021 Farm Progress Show on the edge of Decatur. Many ag companies showcased the latest and greatest equipment, technologies and other products. Versatile displayed its track tractor new for 2022 with many improvements over the previous generation. Farm Progress Show is the first show this tractor has been at as it was launched to dealers in June.


The August flooding was hard on Gibson City but really was a beneficial rain event for crops at the time. Local farmer Greg Kerber observed five inches of rainfall northwest of town during the flood. Kerber remained optimistic about crop yields despite a season which saw various weather extremes – from dryness to wet conditions.


Many growers experienced disease pressure in corn heading into harvest. Tar spot resulted in lower test weights since the corn was not able to mature normally. Overall, those who applied fungicide to fields were fortunate.


“We did apply fungicide on all of our acres so I think that paid dividends,” said McLean County farmer Gerald Thompson.


Many Central Illinois fields received excess rain during the growing season leading to ponding water and some crop damage. Harvest started out at a rapid pace in mid-September but was slowed greatly with rains during October. Most corn was harvested prior to soybeans this year.

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