Farm Fresh Answers

Cultivating conversations about food & farming

Tag: farmers (page 2 of 2)

A Harvest of A Different Color

Some of central Illinois farmer Dan Crider’s corn fields are not like the others, but you probably would not be able to detect the difference unless you peeked under the husks.

For more than 25 years, the Crider family has grown food grade white corn used to make tortillas and tortilla chips on about one-fourth to one-third of their farm.

“The first year we grew white corn, I said ‘It looks like we’re harvesting snow’,” says Anne Crider, Dan’s wife.

IMG_5766Throughout the growing season, white corn plants look pretty much the same as the more typical yellow varieties, but at harvest time a truckload of white kernels stands out in contrast to the more typical golden colored grain.

Dan’s sons Jason, 31, and Chris, 26, both hold full-time jobs off the farm currently, but make time to help their dad, especially during harvest.

The white corn is stored in a grain bin on the Crider farm until it is time to deliver it to The Anderson’s in Mansfield, a grain elevator that specializes in food grade corn.

“Food grade corn must meet standards for moisture, higher test weight and a low percentage of cracked or broken kernels. We also inspect for insect or rodent damage and test for mycotoxins,” says Leo Andruczyk, Regional Food Manager with The Anderson’s.  Mycotoxins are types of harmful mold caused by fungi that can sometimes be found in grain.

“Being food grade is fairly rigid,” Andruczyk says. “Anything that doesn’t meet the standards is rejected.” IMG_5741

Conditions throughout the growing season like rainfall and temperature determine yield, so farmers do not know how exactly how many bushels they have until harvest time.

To fill his contract for a specific number of bushels of white corn, Dan decides how many acres to plant based on estimates, experience from previous years and the type of seed selected.

“The elevator provides us a list of approved seed varieties [for food grade white corn] to choose from,” Chis says. “We purchase the seed and plant one of those varieties.”

The production costs for white corn are similar to yellow corn and growing it uses the same machinery.

“White corn used to have lower yields, but not really anymore.” Dan says. “Some years the white corn out yields the yellow and some years it’s the other way around.”

To see a corn comparison and see more of the story, click here to check out the complete article from McLean County Farm Bureau.

The Friday Five: Harvest

2013 soybeans, landscape

As you may have noticed by the waves of amber grain disappearing from farm fields, corn and soybean harvest is rolling in full force. For farmers, harvest brings the culmination of a full year’s worth of work and then some in planning, selecting, planting & caring for their crops.

For this week’s Friday Five, I though maybe we should take a look at five things harvest means on the farm:

  1. Long hours & hard work! Harvest is a time-sensitive task and when it’s time to go, farmers are usually in the fields from sun-up to sundown or longer as long as a) the weather’s fit b) the crop conditions are right and c) the equipment cooperates.  If you have friends or family who farm, you may notice they completely disappear from social events for a couple of months in the fall, as described by this chart from Illinois Corn Growers.
  2. Meals in the Fields:  Farmers may not stop for lunch or dinner during harvest (see above), so meals are often delivered to the fields. Take a look at some creative and delicious ways farm families stay fed during harvest with ‘How to Feed a Farmer’ posted on the Watch Us Grow blog and ‘Field Meals to Go’ from Katie Pratt’s Rural Route 2 Blog.
  3. Technology & equipment: Today’s family farmers harvest data, not just crops. Sophisticated computer and GPS technology give farmers a wealth of information to make decisions and adjustments for next year. Take a closer look  inside a combine with these photos from the blog Daddy’s tractor and get a glimpse of the bits and bytes of precision farm data  in this article from Business Insider. Or if you want to watch harvest in real time, check out this opportunity to watch it on Periscope!
  4. Danger: Farming is a dangerous occupation and harvest carries many hazards. Big machinery with lots of moving parts, dry corn stalks that can catch fire from a spark and even fatigue from the long hours can lead to accidents. Do your part to help keep farmers (and yourself) safe! Slow down & pass with caution when you meet equipment on the road. Check out this advice from blogger Celeste Harned for more tips to stay safe.
  5. Helping Hands: Farmers are a close-knit community.  Every year I see at least one story about farmers coming together to harvest crops for a neighbor in need. This week I saw three: One right here in McLean County, one near Champaign and another over by  Galva, Illinois.

To see more, search & follow #harvest15 on Facebook or Twitter.

What does harvest mean to you?

Farm Fresh Podcast: ‘Meating’ Needs


Help ‘meat’ needs in McLean County by contributing to the Meat Donation Drive at Hy-Vee in Bloomington March 20-26.

All proceeds will be used to purchase meat for Midwest Food Bank and benefiting our neighbors in need through area food pantries.

Hear about the program from Mike Hoffman, Director of Operations for Midwest Food Bank in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast.

Listen Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m. for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC Radio.

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