Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Year For Crops

By Kelsy Lewis

Farmers don’t have much to complain about this year. Gene Pool of Fulton County has been in the farming business for 38 years and explained that there were very few problems this year. Matt Frakes, a farmer of Warren County, also commented on the yield and price of locally farmed crops.

Pool farms beans and corn. Compared to last year, yield is up. Before harvesting this year Gene expected that the crops would be about the same as last year because it was mainly dry, but we also had a pretty wet spring. He referred to the fields as a “garden spot” for growing in these weather conditions. Corn yield is up about 30-45 bushels, from 135-150 bushels last year to 165-195 bushels this season. Beans were about the same as last year producing 55-70 bushels. This year corn is going for $6.25-$6.40/bushel and beans are going for about $12.00-$12.50/bushel for a Fulton County farmer.

Matt Frakes of Warren County farms corn, beans, oats, and alfalfa hay. Crop yield in Warren County tends to be a little higher than in Fulton County, getting about 231 bushels/acre, which is going for $6.40-$7.10/bushel. Beans are yielding 71 bushels/acre and selling at $12.97/bushel.

The two farmers agree that input costs tend to be the highest. The three main elements that go into crops are seed, fertilizer, equipment, and gas. Since farmers can trade in their equipment, it keeps cost lower. “Farmers incomes are effected considerably, but over the years losses and gains seem to average out. The farmer has the power to control what goes on.” According to Gene, “when the farmer has no money, the consumer has no money.”

Pool found that beans were a little too dry and corn had nearly perfect moisture levels. This year the expense of a dryer was cut out, which impacted input expenses substantially. The dryer is used to dry the corn to get the moisture level at 15% to sell and about 14% to store. This year, monitors were reading that corn was picked at about 22%-23% moisture. In order to store beans, they need to be at about 13%, but this year when cut, they were at about 9%. The difference in the moisture levels in corn and beans is that a dryer can only be used on corn. Beans have to dry from the air for the moisture level to drop.

Most of the crops sell for exports. Gene says most farmers around Fulton County go to Havana, IL where they sell to river terminal barges that take the corn and beans along the Illinois River and then is transported through St. Louis, eventually connecting to the Gulf. Another option is to sell to ethanol plants in Pekin and Peoria Illinois.

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