Teachers take part in ag workshop

RURAL HOOPESTON — When a group of Vermilion County teachers was asked where hazelnuts are grown, parts of Europe and the Pacific Northwest came to mind. Certainly not their own backyard.

But the teachers learned this week that hazelnut trees not only grew in Vermilion County at one time, but were also quite abundant.

Corn farmers hoping for good rain as crops reach critical stage

URBANA — In a growing season that's desperately short on rain, some farmers are thankful for a shower of small favors.

In East Central Illinois, a good rainfall is needed soon to salvage a corn crop that's already seen its yield projections cut.

But other factors this year have been a saving grace, making the crop more durable than it otherwise would be.

Provena farm ready to harvest corn for the poor

CHAMPAIGN — When your family income is so meager you can't put enough food on the table, an ear of fresh-boiled sweet corn for dinner can be a mighty rare treat.

"People see sweet corn and get so excited, you can just imagine. Our underserved population doesn't have access to that," said Julie Melton, spokeswoman for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

Vermilion County farmer's Cuba trip shows corn's potential

OAKWOOD — A Vermilion County farmer who returned from Cuba this week says he sees a potential market for Illinois corn there, as well as opportunities for exchanging agricultural knowledge.

Kevin Green, who farms between Fithian and Oakwood, was one of 18 farmers who visited Cuba from June 28 to July 2 as part of an Illinois Farm Bureau delegation.

What wool they do? Monticello may discuss school's sheep

MONTICELLO — As wild beasts go, sheep are widely considered to be among the least ferocious. Nevertheless, a pair living at a private school on the north edge of town could become endangered by a village ordinance.


Jan Erkert and Bernt Lewy purchased the old Bohlen Ice Company building on Walnut Street in Champaign six years ago, and have created an oasis on the north side of Champaign.

Summer may be as parched as spring

CHAMPAIGN — Hard to believe, but normally June is one of the wetter months of the year.

Not the case with 2012 so far.

In fact, the area has received about half of the normal rainfall for the month, and the outlook for the next two weeks is not looking good.

Welcome to summer, which is looking a lot like this year's spring.

More than half of winter wheat crop harvested

A roundup of agriculture news:

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Agriculture served up more proof this week of how early the growing season came this year.

As of Sunday, 53 percent of the state's winter wheat crop had been harvested. Normally, at this time, only 1 percent of the crop has been harvested, based on averages from the last five years.

Garden of the Week: Frank Thompson

The garden of Frank and Holly Thompson at their home in Champaign on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

Health district launches garden plots

CHAMPAIGN — It can be a real challenge helping people stay healthy when fried chicken and doughnuts are easier for them to get than fresh fruits and vegetables.

But when the going gets tough, well, the tough ... get gardening.