DANVILLE — While seed planting started later than usual, area farmers are in full stride for the new growing season.
Farmers had to deal with wet and cold weather that extended through the start of the month, but with temperatures warming up in the past week, planting has started to pick up.
“April usually breaks open, but it was the first of May this year because the weather was not cooperating,” Fairmount farmer Steve Fourez said. “Basically for corn and soybeans, you want the temperature to be at least 50 degrees. We hung in that 45-50 range for two-to three weeks in April and you can push it if you want, but I didn’t want to take a chance with it.”
Danville farmer Cole Acton said it has been a “weird” spring so far.
“The ground didn’t want to dry up and things didn’t want to warm up so things were a little delayed this year” Acton said. “Last week, when the temperature heated up, that helped us a lot and it dried the ground for us.”
Fourez did say in Fairmount, the weather was not much of a factor since there was not that much rain.
“We have been pretty lucky down here,” Fourez said. “We have missed some of the rains that hit other places in Vermilion County, so we are pretty far along in Sidell and Fairmount. Relative to last year, I was done with corn, beans and everything was planted by the time I got started this year.”
This season is the first one without Covid restrictions and that has brought welcome changes for farmers.
“It was nice to have help that was less worried about health restrictions,” Acton said. “Last year, we were a little skittish with everything going on. This year, we were able to find more people to help out this spring and they were not worried about having any health concerns. Not a whole lot has really changed, rural America didn’t shut down quite as hard as other parts of the country.”
While the weather was an issue in some locations, another issue is price inflation and getting things needed for the rest of the season.
“I am sure it is a broken record when you talk to any farmer, but prices have gone up exponentially,” Acton said. “It is not 100 percent from inflation. A lot of it is because our inputs, like fertilizer, come from the Russia-Ukraine part of the world. As everyone knows, the conflict has put a halt to things coming over here, which drives up prices. Commodity prices have gone up, but it you have had a tripling in input prices, it can make the good feeling go away.”
“It makes you stop to think,” Fourez said. “The grain market is as high as I have seen in 35 years and you say it is good and then you look at how much it is for seed, fertilizer and chemicals and you say you are not making as much money as you did when the price was half of that.
“To a certain amount of us in ag, we take money in one hand and give it out to the other and we make a little profit, so we are used to that. But the expense is so much higher than usual that we are not keeping a lot of it.”
With the start of planting season done, the rest of the season will continue to depend on how pricing goes for fuel and supplies.
“Our fertilizer company likes to plan ahead and they are having trouble even finding the supply to have that for the fall and are scared to give us pricing because when they deliver it, the price might be off from what it is supposed to be,” Acton said. “We are not out of the weeds with this, but all this can change quickly in the agriculture world.
“Sometimes it takes a few years to get corrections on things, so you take it with a grain of salt when people start panicking about fall. There are a lot of crops planted through last week through this week, so we are getting far along in the planting season and I don’t see any problems with getting the crop done.
“The better the start increases for a good crop in the future,” Fourez said. “When you put a crop in, it is in mother nature’s hands. As far as I can tell, things are going in pretty well and now it is wait and see. If you get the wrong two weeks in July, where it is too hot, it could wreck what could be a good crop. The earlier you can plant a crop, the better you can weather things like that later in the year.”