TOLONO – With the landmark Labor Day weekend behind them, many Illinois farmers jumped on their waiting combines and headed into fields to see what the harvest has in store.
The corn crop has matured about two weeks earlier than usual, thanks to good spring weather and a hot, dry summer, and it's expected to be a bin buster, thanks to hybrids that performed well and rare but timely rains.
"We started getting some Tuesday," said Dean Killion, a merchandiser at Grand Prairie Coop Inc. based at Tolono. "We had a good run at Ivesdale. We got corn at Sadorus midweek. We got about 15,000 bushels of beans, mostly in the Sidney area. Corn's coming in dry, some at about 18 percent and some as dry as about 15 percent."
"We're started," said Pam Jarboe, assistant manager of Bement-based Topflight Grain Cooperative. "We're not super busy yet, but the quality seems to be very good. "
Jarboe said she hears that elevators south in the Dalton City area southwest of Bement have already taken in about 40 percent of their expected corn crop.
By midweek, Topflight had already taken in about 1.4 million bushels of corn with an average moisture content of 16.4 percent, Jarboe said.
Jarboe said Topflight has added 700,000 bushels of storage at Cisco and 1 million bushels of temporary storage at Milmine this year.
Killion said Grand Prairie added 1 million bushels of storage last year and has shipped out more grain, so the company has 3.5 million bushels more storage space going into this harvest than it did at the beginning of last harvest.
"Of course transportation is always a challenge," he said. "We have quite a few sales on the books but this harvest is earlier than projected. Hopefully, it will all work out."
Larry Wood at Champaign's The Andersons elevator said harvest action started slowly early in the week with a few truckloads of corn, but picked up as the week progressed.
"Given the size of this crop, it's going to take a while to get it in," Wood said. "We're definitely preparing our parking lot for a mound of corn and we're building walls so we can pile it up higher."
Paul McTaggart, manager of Stewart Grain Company's Bismarck elevator, said harvest hasn't started in his neighborhood yet.
"I think it will be next week," McTaggart said. "We have a big range of moisture contents, most in the 20s. It's nice weather and farmers aren't going to get in a hurry when they can get free drying in the field."
McTaggart said that at company headquarters at Stewart, Ind., harvest is in full swing.
"Those Indiana people got a jump on us this spring," he said.