By this time in 2012, many local farmers were in the fields beginning the harvest process for what was left of a corn crop hit hard by Midwestern drought conditions.
Oh, what a difference a year makes.
It’s a 180-degree difference this year, according to local growers who are projecting this growing season to yield an average to above average crop with farmers not expecting to make it in their fields to harvest until later in the year.
Ton Fricke, director of information for the Vermilion County Farm Bureau, said farmers at a meeting last week estimated farmers won’t make it into fields until October at the earliest as they wait for the right time to pull their crops from the fields.
Gabe Shepherd, who farms around the Fithian area, said he has a little corn that made it into the ground before spring rains held up the planting for farmers. He might try to pull that crop out at the end of the month, but otherwise doesn’t expect September to yield any harvest time for him.
“It’s far better than last year, at least in our area,” he said. “The corn crop is going to be much, much better than last year.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture apparently agrees, forecasting a yield of 165 bushels per acre across the state of Illinois and as much as 162 bushels per acre in eastern Illinois, including Vermilion County.
That tops the 101.4 bushels per acre that farmers brought in during last year’s drought-ravaged conditions.
The USDA predictions — issued in mid-August — came as drier conditions crept across the state during August. As of Sept. 5, the U.S. Drought Monitor listed parts of four western Illinois counties in severe drought conditions. An area stretching from the Mississippi River to Iroquois County — about 68 percent of the state — is listed in moderate drought conditions.