This week feels like summer, but many Illinois farmers are getting their first look at their yield monitors. Members of the CropWatchers 2.0 team report a strong start to the season and share some of their harvest favorites. 

Q: Have you started harvest? What are your initial thoughts?

John Bartman (McHenry County): We have started harvest on corn and soybeans. We are above average and 10% finished. Very happy with the yields considering we are so dry. We have a high amount of splits in our beans which is discouraging.

Colby Hunt (McDonough County): Corn harvest is about a quarter done. It’s coming in about 16% to 17% moisture now. We’re just getting started with soybeans. They’re dry. Things have been going really smooth. Yields are a little off, but not bad.

Lucas Roney (Moultrie County): We started corn harvest last week, but the moisture was a little wet still, so we put the corn in our bins and are drying it down ourselves instead of paying the commercial drying fees at the elevator. Moistures were running from 20% to 25% and yields looked really good so far but we won't set any records on any of our fields this year. We had great weather this summer, but I think the cold, wet spring limited our yields this year. We started soybean harvest this week and yields are looking good there, too, but yields won't set any records for soybeans either. We have a few fields that are ready, but a lot of our fields are still a little too green to harvest but should be ready this week. The driest field was not sprayed with fungicide so hopefully that means the fields sprayed with fungicide will yield better.

Greg St. Aubin (Kankakee County): We’re harvesting both corn and soybeans. It is really too early to speculate on yields.

Q: What do you do to pass time in the cab?

Bartman: If I am in the combine, I listen to the machine. In my free time, I am listening to the U.S. House Agricultural Committee Hearing on carbon markets.

Hunt: I enjoy listening to podcasters to pass the time, especially tech ones. 

Roney: I generally listen to sports talk radio stations or the local ag talk station. But if there is a St. Louis Cardinals game on, that's my favorite thing to listen to in the combine. I will mix in a country or rock music station depending on my mood, also.

St. Aubin: Make plans for the field. It’s the best time to talk about what can be done to each field for the year, how did seed and chem. work. The report card so to speak of your efforts. Talk to your adviser, retail fertilizer salesman and seedsman.

Watch: Colby Hunt's harvest update from McDonough County

Q: What is your favorite field meal?

Bartman: I feed my crew every day at lunch. We rotate from sub sandwiches, Italian beef, pizza and burgers.

Hunt: Most revolutionary meal process I've found for cab meal is a 12-volt cooking cooler. So, I'll grill up burgers or smoke something then heat it up. It's amazing.

Roney: I don't really have a favorite meal. I just enjoy seeing my mom or my wife and taking a break to visit about our day since we don't see each other much this time of year.

St. Aubin: Cold meat sandwich. MJ makes the best. She calls them “shaggy sandwiches” from the famed Scooby Doo cartoon. Dad will bring cookies and coffee in the afternoon.

Q: What's is your two-week outlook?

Bartman: Dry. Should finish in record time. I also bought a Draper head in Ohio last week. The Eastern Corn Belt got nailed with 5-plus inches during my journey. I'm sure there will be crop loss.

Hunt: Keep harvesting corn and soybeans, spreading lime, mowing road ditches and start spreading gypsum.

Roney: Hopefully we'll be getting close to finishing soybean harvest and will have a good start on corn harvest in a couple of weeks. I plan on having my oat/radish cover crop planted and hope to have our wheat planted as well.

St. Aubin: In two weeks, we will have the report card pretty much filled out. Hoping we get promoted to next year.