Weed free fields are more than just for looks. Unwanted plants compete with the crop for sunlight, soil and water.
Check out some of the tools and strategies farmers use to control weeds in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast with farmer Gerald Thompson.
Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. for Farm to Table on WJBC Radio.
Agriculture contributes $1.6 billion to the McLean County economy. Dive deeper into the numbers with Mike Doherty, Senior Economist with Illinois Farm Bureau for this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast.
Tune in every week to hear the Farm to Table segment on WJBC radio at 12:45 p.m. Wednesdays.
The first hints of spring bring maple sirup season to central Illinois. As the ground starts to thaw and the sap starts to run, workers at Funk’s Grove Pure Maple Sirup spring into action to collect the sap and turn it into sirup.
Mike Funk, fifth generation maple sirup producer, talks about the tradition in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast.
For more on the sirup making process and where to find Funk’s Grove Pure Maple Sirup, check out their website or take a look at this article from the Illinois Farm Bureau® Partners magazine.
Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC radio.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
Looking for the perfect pumpkin for your front step? Or maybe some mums to fill out your fall flower bed? Central Illinois has plenty to offer!
After all, when it comes to pumpkins – Illinois is the cream of the crop! Illinois farmers grow 80-85% of the world’s supply of processing pumpkins (used to make canned pumpkin puree & pie filling) and the majority of those are grown right here in the central part of the state.
Check out a few upcoming opportunities to visit the country, experience a little taste of agriculture and maybe pick up a pumpkin:
- Explore local farm history with the 2015 McLean County Barn Tour Sat., Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring interesting barns, antique farm equipment and more. The self-guided tour and begins at the Chenoa United Methodist Church and is sponsored by McLean County Barn Keepers.
- Rader Family Farms opens this weekend (Sept. 12). Located just west of Normal (look for the pumpkin topped silo), Rader’s offers plenty of pumpkins, a corn maze, kid-friendly activities, food & special events throughout the season.
- Also this weekend, you can head south for the Route 10 Farm Crawl Sun., Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with activities at Mariah’s Mums & More, Timberview Alpaca Farm & Wagon Wheel Pumpkin Farm near Clinton, Illinois.
- For more pumpkin treats and festival fun, head to the Pumpkin Capital of the World for the Morton Pumpkin Festival Sept. 16-19, 2015. Sample the savory and the sweet with everything from pumpkin chili to pumpkin donuts & ice cream.
- And if apples are what you’re after, check out Country Mist Apple Farm near Heyworth, Curtis Orchard near Champaign or Tanner’s Orchard north of Peoria.
Just remember when you venture out into the country, watch out for farm equipment! Harvest is just beginning for corn & soybeans, so be alert for slow moving vehicles on the roads. Slow down, pass with caution & be safe!
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Fall?