Ask a farmer: Double-cropping, grain storage, no-till farming – Bloomington Pantagraph


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Editor’s note: This is part of a series helping farmers to answer consumers’ frequently asked questions, from the big topics like GMOs and animal welfare to specifics on treated seed or tillage. If you have a question you would like ag experts or farmers to ask, forward them to [email protected] Publications of Lee Agri-Media asked non-farmers if they have questions about modern agriculture and got several that pertain to crop practices. We reached out to experts to provide answers.Terry asked a question about double-cropping. Many row-crop farmers in southern Illinois and Missouri — among other areas — sow wheat in the fall and follow it with soybeans in the late spring.“What is the advantage of double-crop production?” he asked.We put his question to Ruth Hambleton. Hambleton served for years as a farm management educator with University of Illinois Extension. She also teaches at Southern Illinois University and has a farm in Jefferson County.“For us it is a revenue thing,” Hambleton said. “I’ll illustrate using the University of Illinois crop budgets for 2021. Wheat as a crop by itself will net the landowner about $60 per acre. Add an average double-crop soybean harvest and I can add another $300 per acre net revenue in the same year.“We are fortunate to live in a temperate zone that allows winter wheat followed by double-crop soybeans — good revenue from a single acre with the added benefit of crop rotation to break up disease, help with weed control and spread labor requirements into the early summer. From a conservation angle, we keep the ground covered to reduce erosion.”======Leonard had a question about grain storage: “How long can they keep corn and beans in a bin before they start to lose quality?”We posed the question to Terry Michael. Though semi-retired, Michael has worked at a commercial grain elevator owned by Omaha-based Gavilon for 48 years, since he got out of high school.“There are a lot of factors, especially whether there is any moisture in the grain and whether they cool it off with fans before they bring it in,” Michael said. “If it’s dry and cools down, it will stay until late July, and maybe a year or so.”Most elevators prefer to receive grain that is under 15% moisture.“With corn, if you’re above 15% or 15.5% and it warms up, it will start bolting,” Michael said. “Then we’re talking six months or less. Soybeans dry at 13.5%, and sometimes they’ll come out of the field at 10% or 11%. You cool them off and they’ll stay good for a year or so.”Despite precautions taken at elevators, less-than-desirable grain is sometimes present.“We’ve had some go bad on us,” he said. “If it rains and there’s a leak in the roof of your bin, that can be a problem. With soybeans, most are dry, but if you still have some green ones in your combine, you can’t hold onto those as long — maybe six months.”As with wheat and other grains, damaged corn and soybeans can be blended with good-quality grain.

Governor JB Pritzker joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and community leaders to announce significant investments to expand workforce training and support Illinois’ continued economic recovery from the pandemic. The new initiatives include a $40 million workforce recovery grant program aimed to get more jobseekers back to work, while helping sectors impacted most by COVID-19. The funding will expand workforce training, job training and support services as well as covering basic expenses that are barriers to those seeking employment.

======Gary asked, “Did no-till farming ever take off?”The practice of growing crops without deep tillage has been around for 60 years, with early adherents in Kentucky and Illinois. From its humble beginnings, it has become a standard practice. IFT put Gary’s question to Mark Lamczyk.Lamczyk, who recently retired from University of Illinois Extension, was among agronomists who tended to what may be the oldest continuous no-till research plot in the United States. Located at the U of I’s Ewing Field in southern Illinois, no-till corn and soybeans have been grown there for 53 consecutive years.“It has definitely taken off,” said Lamczyk, who also farms in Franklin County. His crops this year are all no-till.One advantage is fewer passes over a field.“Let’s face it: If you’re not no-tilling, you’re running steel up and down the field,” he said. “Over time, there may be a yield slump after three or four years of continuous no-till, but that’s debatable.”No-till farming can also carry major benefits to soil health. Lamczyk said the Ewing plot now has about 4% to 4.5% organic matter, nearly as good as some of the rich soils in central Illinois. That is up dramatically to only about a half percent when the trial began more than a half-century ago.

🏈 16 NFL stars with Illini roots

Geronimo Allison // WR

NFL BioCurrent Team: Green Bay PackersAt Illinois: 2014-2015Drafted: Undrafted


James Crawford // LB

NFL BioCurrent Team: Green Bay PackersAt Illinois: 2014-2018Drafted: Undrafted

Associated Press

Clayton Fejeldem // SAF

NFL BioCurrent Team: Cincinnati BengalsAt Illinois: 2013-2015Drafted: Cincinnati Bengals // Seventh Round // 245th overall

Associated Press

Josh Ferguson // RB

NFL BioCurrent Team: Indianapolis ColtsAt Illinois: 2012-2015Drafted: Undrafted

Associated Press

Justin Hardee // DB

NFL BioCurrent Team: New Orleans SaintsAt Illinois: 2012-2016Drafted: Undrafted


Michael Hoomanawanui // TE

NFL BioCurrent Team:  New Orleans SaintsAt Illinois:  2007-2009Drafted:  St. Louis Rams // Fifth Round // 132nd overall

AP Photo / R. Brent Smith

Ted Karras // OG

NFL BioCurrent Team: New England PatriotsAt Illinois: 2012-2015Drafted: New England Patriots // Sixth Round // 221st overall

Matt LaCosse // TE

NFL BioCurrent Team: Denver BroncosAt Illinois: 2014-2015Drafted: Undrafted

Dan McNeile

Corey Liuget // DE

NFL BioCurrent Team:  San Diego ChargersAt Illinois:  2008-2010Drafted:  San Diego Chargers // First Round // 18th overall

Tim Sharp

Whitney Mercilus // DE

NFL BioCurrent Team:  Houston TexansAt Illinois:  2009-2011Drafted:  Houston Texans // First Round // 26th overall

Steven Senne

Hardy Nickerson Jr. // LB

NFL BioCurrent Team: Cincinnati BengalsAt Illinois: 2016Drafted: Undrafted

Associated Press

Carroll Phillips // DE

NFL BioCurrent Team: Indianapolis ColtsAt Illinois: 2013-2017Drafted: Undrafted

Associated Press

Dawuane Smoot // DE

NFL BioCurrent Team: Jacksonville JaguarsAt Illinois: 2013-2016Drafted: Jacksonville Jaguars // Third Round // 68th overall

Associated Press

Akeem Spence // DT

NFL BioCurrent Team:  Tampa Bay BuccanneersAt Illinois:  2009-2012Drafted:  Tampa Bay Buccanneers // Fourth Round // 100th overall

Reinhold Matay

Jihad Ward // DE

NFL BioCurrent Team: Indianapolis ColtsAt Illinois: 2014-2016Drafted: Oakland Raiders // Second Round // 44th overall


Tavon Wilson // FS

NFL BioCurrent Team:  New England PatriotsAt Illinois:  2008-2011Drafted:  New England Patriots // Second Round // 48th overall

Charlie Riedel

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