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USDA: Illinois drops to No. 4 in corn production


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Originally Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2013, 9:30 am
Last Updated: Jan. 11, 2013, 2:57 pm
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Illinois corn production plunged 34 percent last year as a severe drought cost the state bragging rights as the country's second-biggest grower of the grain, the federal government announced Friday in its final crop report for 2012.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that despite planting more corn acreage than during the previous two years, Illinois finished 2012 fourth among corn states, accounting for 1.29 billion bushels of the 10.79 billion reaped nationwide.

Iowa still solidly led the pack with 1.87 billion bushels, followed by Minnesota's 1.37 billion and Nebraska's 1.29 billion, which was roughly 6 million more than Illinois.

Illinois farmers averaged 105 bushels per acre last year, down dramatically from the 157-bushel average growers had in producing 1.9 billion bushels each of the previous two years.

The state's soybeans also suffered, with 383.6 million bushels harvested last year — well short of the 423 million in 2011 and 466 million the year before that. Growers averaged 43 bushels per acre in 2012, off from 47.5 in 2011 and 51.5 the previous year.

Illinois had big hopes heading into last spring's planting season, sowing 12.8 million acres of corn — 200,000 more than in each of the previous two years. But last year's dry spring that enabled farmers to plant their crops weeks early propelled 2012 into becoming the state's second warmest and 10th driest year on record, with the average statewide precipitation 10 inches less than normal.

In northern Illinois, farmer Earl Williams has spent the early part of this year glancing skyward, hoping rain will soften up his bone-dry soil before the planting season and help make up for the frustration he experienced last year. So far, he's not having much luck, saying the inch of rain that fell this week on his roughly 1,000 acres near Rockford, Ill., was just the second such amount there since last April.

"I've yet to run into anyone around me that wasn't ready for 2013 to come," Williams, a 62-year-old former Illinois Soybean Association president, told The Associated Press as he headed to Nashville for an annual gathering of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Helped by crop insurance, Williams managed to break even last year despite soybean yields that turned out to be seven or eight bushels below average. His cornfields took an even bigger hit, producing 50 to 60 bushels per acre short of the 150 to 160 bushels per acre that he'd typically reap.

Yet he's not complaining, citing the fickleness of the drought that left a farmer just 15 miles away with a harvest of 60 bushels total. The drought also came on the heels of two good years that put Williams on solid enough financial footing to weather a bad one.

The question now is what will happen this spring, and Williams and other farmers have reason to be worried. The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly updates have shown little sign the drought is relenting. Sixty percent of the continental U.S. still was in some form of drought as of Tuesday — much as it has been since July.

 
















 



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  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






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