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Super Soil: IL planters rolling

  • 01

    (left to right) (son) Mark Hobrock, (father) Butch Hobrock, (son) Doug Hobrock. The Hobrock's farm over 2,000 acres along the Sangamon River in west-central Illinois near Beardstown. As of this week, the Hobrocks are one-third finished with corn planting.

  • 02

    This seed corn that will be planted on the Hobrocks' farm is sacked, stacked, and possibly one-day processed into a snack. For 14 years, the Hobrocks, like many of the area farmers, have planted continuous corn, due to variable soils in Cass County, Illinois. In just one field, there could be anywhere from 6-10 different soil types.

  • 03

    Here is Butch Hobrock running his 16-row planter in this 160-acre cornfield. The corn is being planted on 30-inch rows, with a plant population per acre of 33,000 to 36,000.

  • 04

    Hobrock, 60 years of age, says technology and seed hybrids are the biggest improvements in farming that he has noticed in the past ten years. "I keep thinking back when I first ran a two-row planter, at the age of 10, it took us eight days to plant 160 acres," Butch says. Other than that, I love farming with my boys. I'm very fortunate."

  • 05

    As he kicks up a little dust, Hobrock works his way across the cornfield in west-central Illinois this week. Though the photo shows some dirt clods, Hobrock says this year's soil is some of the best he has planted into for years.

  • 06

    These are the hands of crop specialist Doug Hobrock. "Though it's getting a little dry, we really couldn't ask for a better soil condition at planting time." The Hobrocks are in a conventional tillage program, run irrigation, and spread out their nitrogen applications throughout the year.

  • 07

    In west-central Illinois, many farmers run irrigation rigs. Because of heavy irrigation, the Hobrocks have been unable to grow soybeans with much success. In addition to watering the crops, nitrogen is spoon-fed through the irrigation rigs each year.

  • 08

    The Hobrocks plant triple-stacked corn seed. Because it is being planted this week, the Hobrocks hope to be able to harvest this corn on the last week of August or first of September.

  • 09

    This photo shows Brian Yoder (right), a Lovington, Illinois farmer, dumping seed corn into a larger crate with the help of the Yoder's mechanic. Brian and his father Levi, farm 3,600 acres in Moultrie County, Illinois.

  • 10

    After opening up a field, Yoder noticed the seedbox on the planter's 24th row was not planting. "Every once in a while the seeds 'cake' up, highlighting the importance of setting the pressure on your planter correctly," he says. After a few taps, planter box number 24 was working correctly. It was considered very short down-time.

  • 11

    Notice just a few seeds popping out of this feeder hose. As mentioned in previous slide, Brian Yoder had to unhook the hose to free-up some seed that had gotten clogged. After tapping the hose and turning the planter's vacuum system on-and-off, he was back up-and-running. The Yoders plan to plant more corn than normal this year. In general, they keep a nice rotation of corn and soybeans.

  • 12

    Gary Smith, OKAW Farmer's Co-op operations manager in Lovington, Illinois, has been working with the Yoders for many years. "Brian and his father are getting a good start on planting. But, we will have a wide range of planting dates. We have guys that are waiting for warmer weather, with soil temps measuring around 40-degrees. Before this field, the Yoders had 250 acres already planted.

  • 13

    This Yoder cornfield is being planted with a seed population of 34,000 seeds per acre, planted six inches apart. Located 30 miles from Decatur, Illinois, the Yoder's corn is sold to Archer Daniels Midland's processing plant to make corn oil.

  • 14

    In Mount Pulaski, Illinois, Doug Martin's tractor is 'blowin' and goin,' planting corn that he hopes will be ready on Labor Day weekend. "We started planting April 5, and are about 30% completed. Because of a short crop last year, we think this area will be short on corn, narrowing the local basis this fall."

  • 15

    Here's Martin planting a 100 acre field outside of Mount Pulaski this week. This year, the Martins are planting about 85% of their acres to corn and the rest to soybeans. Even with a rain delay, the Martins feel comfortable planting into May.

  • 16

    A lot of central Illinois farmers are talking about how well the soil is right for planting, this year. Martin pointed out that his soil is the best he's seen for a long time. In this photo, notice how clean the planting row is, while the stocks have 'hilled up' nicely. "We haven't seen that affect for years," he says. "We had a dry fall, enabling us to get our fieldwork finished, and we had the proper winter freeze-thaw."

  • 17

    Along the planting stops, I ran into the Illinois FFA State Office. Morgan Ott, State FFA Reporter, says memberships are growing. Ott has been serving as Reporter since June of 2010. "We are seeing a lot more non ag-related junior high and high school-aged students joining the FFA. In fact, our largest chapter, ironically, is in Chicago." Separately, Ott's father farms west of Bloomington, Illinois. "He hasn't started planting yet, but boy is he ready."

See the planting progress farmers made this week in central Illinois.

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