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Better than expected

  • 01

    For farmers in west-central Illinois, the 2011 corn harvest is going better than expected. I caught up with rolling combines in Stark County, Illinois.

  • 02

    Pete Gill, a Stark County, Illinois farmer, is unloading corn harvested from a nearby field. The Gill's operate a diversified farm operation in westcentral Illinois growing corn, soybeans, wheat and vegetables. Gill says a $1 million rain that fell on July 23 saved his crops this year.

  • 03

    The Gills are 10 days into harvest and are seeing yields ranging from 120-220 bushels per acre. This year the Gill's were 'heavy' on corn acreage. These Illinois farmers are fortunate to have plenty of buyers to choose from, with five ethanol plants in the area as well as nearby river terminals.

  • 04

    Tim Green, a Stark County, Illinois farmer (on left) says that the corn on his 1,800-acre farm is yielding between 107-200. The farm's five-year average is 175 bushels per acre. "There's a lot of variety this year," Green says. In this photo, (left-to-right), Green, Green's hired farmhand, and Dave Mowers, Green's crop consultant.

  • 05

    Green says this year's crop is coming in a little below what he expected. He planted 33,000 corn seeds per acre, a little lighter than normal. "I'm glad I was lighter on the population. Based on the dry/heat pattern we fought, I think it worked out for me."

  • 06

    On Green's farm, along with wet spring conditions, heat/dry in July, high winds leaned over part of his corn this year. "The corn is leaning away from the combine, making it a bit easier in picking it up," Green says.

  • 07

    Green is raising triple-stacked corn that usually finds a home at one of five nearby ethanol plants. "You have to really pay attention to the bids. Sometimes the ethanol plants are competing for the corn at the same time. Other times, you might find that just a few need the corn worse than the others. But, we're thankful to have as many area buyers as we do."

  • 08

    After being planted on May 7-8, this corn is being harvested about on-schedule, Green says. "This corn really filled out after much-needed rains in late July. Aside from some of it being leaned over, it really has come a long way. We're not seeing much smut. The ears are about 16-rows around with a clear black layer."

  • 09

    Green is combining this 120-acre field of corn at a speed of about 3 miles-per-hour. "I usually go faster. But, with this corn leaning and some tangled, you just have top slow up to get it all. This year's harvest shouldn't last as long as last year's. So, I'm not really in a hurry."

  • 10

    Farmers in west-central Illinois take a break for lunch. With favorable weekend weather, these unknown farmers just left the wagon full, shut the combine down and didn't appear to be in a rush.

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