Ogle County farmers wrapping up 2022 harvest

Ogle County Farm Bureau Manager Ron Kern said Thursday, Nov. 17 that soybean harvest is wrapped up and around 10 percent of corn remains in fields for the 2022 harvest in the county.

‘We probably will have the best yields in the state in Northern Illinois’

OGLE COUNTY — Ogle County Farm Bureau Manager Ron Kern said Thursday, Nov. 17 that soybean harvest is wrapped up and around 10 percent of corn remains in fields for the 2022 harvest in the county.

Kern said that despite recent snow flurries, the winter weather has not yet been enough to impact farmers substantially. The promise of temperatures in the 40s and dry weather during Thanksgiving week should help farmers to end the season. The colder weather helps to firm up ground for equipment to drive on, he said. 

Most Ogle County farmers circle Thanksgiving Day on their calendars as a goal to have harvest finished by, Kern said. After crops are harvested, farmers attempt to service fields before next year.

“Some farmers will have a window to get anhydrous ammonia on,” Kern said. “Depending on the ground freezing, you’ll see fall tillage. We haven’t had much of that done so far. Getting fall tillage done helps get the soil uncompacted and helps get moisture in over the winter. Anything you can get done during the fall gets you ahead for the spring.”

Some farmers use gas-powered dryers to bring moisture levels of harvested crops down. Kern said a late start in the spring caused moisture levels to be higher in harvest time. Farmers started to see November and winter weather coming and dryers started running recently after many left crops in fields as long as they could to avoid using a lot of currently high-priced gas on dryers.

Kern said yields on corn and beans in Ogle County have been “excellent.”

“I think farmers are very happy,” Kern said. “With what I know about the rest of the state, we probably will have the best yields in the state in Northern Illinois.”

After a late start in the spring and prices of inputs like fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia being “through the roof” and sometimes double and triple what they were the year before, Ogle County farmers were wondering whether or not the year would be profitable. Kern said crop prices rebounded well since and good yields should make most farmers profitable this year.

Input prices still remain high for farmers as they prepare for 2023.

“With the past year and high input prices and transportation issues, farmers I think are really going to be sharpening the pencil with booking fuel, fertilizer, seed and everything,” Kern said. “It will be an interesting dance this winter.”

Ongoing drought issues with the Mississippi River could have a negative impact on area farmers. Grain is shipped to the river and barges are currently backed up due to the low water levels. In recent months, Kern called the river “a lifeline for agriculture” and said other farming inputs are moved up and down it.

“They’re still having a hard time getting barges up and down the Mississippi River,” Kern said. “Soon there will be ice on the river and that always slows down shipping. If the potential rail strike comes to pass, that could be an issue for agriculture as well. Having ethanol plants locally can help. Transportation issues getting solved will be critical. We’re past the rainy season, so I don’t think there will be much help filling that river.”

The Ogle County Farm Bureau manager reflected on a year that saw a friendly mother nature, but unfriendly economic issues.

“What do we call normal anymore?” Kerns said. “Nothing seems to be normal in the past few years. The war in Ukraine and COVID-19 have affected markets. I think it’s all just been a perfect storm the past two years. It’s all coming back to roost.”

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