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Harvest progress minimizes impact of latest windstorm on farms

Many farmers have another reason to be thankful for an early harvest.

Three months to the day of the devastating Aug. 10 derecho, a cold front pushed through the state Tuesday (Nov. 10) that produced a long line of fast-moving storms with wind gusts from 40 to 70 mph across much of the state.

And while there were widespread reports of downed power lines and trees, power outages, and roof and other building damage, initial reports didn’t indicate a lot of damage to crops as most were already in the bin.

“We had very strong winds, but I haven’t seen a lot of damage,” said Ryan Frieders, FarmWeek CropWatcher from Waterman (DeKalb County).

“If it was earlier in the year, (the windstorm) would’ve been a very dramatic event,” he noted. “Normally, there’d be a lot of corn still in the field this time of year. But harvest went so fast, most people are done or wrapping up.”

Illinois farmers harvested 95% of corn (6 points ahead of the average pace) and 96% of soybeans (3 points ahead of average) as of Nov. 8, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office.

Grant Iske, a Carroll County Farm Bureau member who farms with his father, William, and brothers near Lanark, reported the windstorm knocked out power on their farm for more than 12 hours. They had just finished power washing their harvest equipment the day before the storm.

“We had 60 to 70 mph winds,” Iske said. “It’s good we had all the corn picked off the ground, or it would’ve been flat.”

The Aug. 10 derecho, by comparison, flattened or stripped millions of acres of corn and soybeans across central and east central Iowa and into northern Illinois. Insurance claims in Iowa from that event recently surpassed $1.6 billion.

The cold front that triggered the outbreak of severe thunderstorms this time around also ended a stretch of unseasonably warm, almost summer-like weather, with a week of high temperatures in the 70s.

In fact, 27 Illinois weather stations with at least 30 years of observations experienced the warmest week on record for the month of November, based on a seven-day average temperature, the Illinois State Water Survey reported.

“It was an incredible start to the month,” Mark Henderson, chief meteorologist with WIFR in Rockford told the RFD Radio Network. “I think La Nina was very much a player in this.”

And after a recent shot of cold air, Illinois could finish the month on another mild streak.

“Looking at the longer-range outlook the next one to two weeks, we could see a re-emergence of mild air. Probably not in the 70s, but possibly the 60s,” Henderson said. “There aren’t any significant indications of real cold air or major wintry weather the next couple weeks.”

Farmers will keep an eye on the sky, though, in hopes of some precipitation. Subsoil moisture ranked 42% short to very short, 57% adequate and just 1% surplus as of Nov. 8.

“It’s very dry,” Frieders said. “We were doing some tile repair and a main, 12-inch tile had no water in it and the creeks are down. Hopefully, we’ll get a winter recharge.”

Farmers also recently wrapped up most wheat planting in the state, with 97% of the crop in the ground and 90% emerged as of Nov. 8, both ahead of the average pace. Condition of the wheat crop ranked 70% good to excellent (compared to just 43% at this time last year), 19% fair and 11% poor to very poor.


Consumers seek local foods, gifts for holidays

When Illinoisans sit down to a Thanksgiving meal, more foods from local farms will grace their tables. Holiday gifts? More of them will be grown, raised and processed in Illinois, too.

Consumers turned to local sources earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic and again seek local foods and gifts for the holidays as the state sets records for COVID cases and testing.

“We’re seeing consumers want to shop online more this year. As mitigation (restrictions) increases, there will be more online shopping,” Raghela Scavuzzo, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of food systems development, told FarmWeek.

Across the state, more farms and food entrepreneurs posted information on websites and Facebook, and opened online stores with order and prepay options. Some offered curbside delivery at on-farm locations, while others added shipping when feasible.

And consumers shopped.

“We doubled (online consumer) traffic at times. With Thanksgiving and Christmas, one would assume there will be even more interest,” said Darlene “Dar” Knipe, co-founder of MarketMaker, an interactive database of farm food sources and buyers.

In January, MarketMaker launched an e-commerce platform that allowed Illinois farmers listed on MarketMaker to sell directly to customers. Any Illinois farmer with a MarketMaker account, which shares product information, may log in and click on an online option to create an electronic store at no cost. A farmer not currently participating may select an e-commerce option while registering. Visit {il.foodmarketmaker.com}.

“For those farms or businesses with no online store or website, MarketMaker provides the tools to set up online stores. Now it’s a big opportunity,” Knipe added. “If you’re not currently on (MarketMaker), this (holiday season) is a great reason to sign up and register.”

The Illinois Specialty Growers Association (ISGA) also offers consumers and growers a searchable option to post and locate online stores, according to Scavuzzo, ISGA executive director. Visit {specialtygrowers.org} and click on “shop local” in the middle of the page for search for food and farm businesses or to register with them online.

Scavuzzo and Knipe encouraged farms listed on MarketMaker to be sure their information indicates online ordering and shopping is available. The database is searchable with such key phrases as “online ordering,” “shopping online,” or “mail delivery.”

Since mid-March, FarmWeek has profiled diverse farms and food businesses across Illinois as part of the Cultivating Our Communities campaign. The following is a sample of those farms selling foods and gifts for the holidays. Farms are listed by counties. For more details and a complete list of featured farms, visit {ilfb.org/resources/cultivating-our-communities}.

Edgewood Orchard, Quincy, {edgewoodorchards.com/} open until Thanksgiving with limited supply of cider and some apples.

Knobhill Livestock Co., Greenview, {knobhilllivestock.com/} select cuts of lamb and holiday specials available via online store.

Marcoot Creamery, Greenville, {marcootjerseycreamery.com}, store open winter hours, closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Rolling Lawn Farms, Greenville, {rollinglawnfarms.com} featuring traditional, red velvet and chocolate eggnog, added Springfield’s new Harvest Market store. Check website for store locations.

Prairie Pure Cheese, Belvidere, {prairiepurecheese.com}, holiday gift box options available through online orders.

Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch, Champaign, {curtisorchard.com} fresh apples, baked goods, specialty food items at on-farm store through Dec. 23. Check website for winter hours.

Prairie Fruits and Creamery, Champaign, {prairiefruits.com}, several holiday gift box options online, on-farm availability of cheese and products, weekend farm open house through Dec. 19.

Eden Place Farms, Chicago, {edenplacefarms.org}, microgreens available for preorder through the winter, on-farm pickup.

Ho-Ka Turkey Farm, Waterman, {hokaturkeys.com} fresh turkeys and turkey products at on-farm store, grocery and specialty stores in Chicago area. Curbside delivery available at farm.

Joy Lane Produce, West Salem, {joylaneproduce.com}, hydroponically grown lettuce varieties for pickup at farm. Contact Andrew Spray via website or Facebook.

Heirloom Organic Grains and Flours, Dwight, {qualityorganic.net} online orders of organic flours and baking products, heirloom popcorn, monthly baked goods Community Supported Agriculture.

Mill at Janie’s Farm, Ashkum, {janiesmill.com}, online orders of organic wheat, rye, oats, corn, buckwheat, heirloom grains and ancient grains flours and baking products. Check website for availability.

River to River Farm, Tunnel Hill, {rivertoriverfarm.com} goat meat, fresh ginger and turmeric, goat milk soaps, lotions and lip balm. Available through LEAF (Little Egypt Alliance of Farmers) Food Hub {leaffoodhub.com}.

Garlic Breath Farm, Elburn, {garlicbreathfarm.com} hot sauces made by Gindo’s Hot Sauce with the farm’s certified organic garlic. Online ordering on farm website.

Klein’s Market, Burlington, {kleinsfarmmarket.com}, two Elgin locations open through Dec. 24, squash, cheese and variety of food products.

The Great Pumpkin Patch, Arthur, {the200acres.com} online ordering of baked goods, specialty foods, apparel and other products, holiday gift box options.

Eckert’s, Grafton, {eckerts.com}, holiday meal orders, Thanksgiving pies and baked goods, Christmas trees and more. Check website for details.

Rendleman Orchards, Alto Pass, {rendlemanorchards.com}, online ordering of apple and specialty food gift boxes, apparel and candles.

Kathy’s Kitchen, Virginia, {kathyskitchenstore.com}, lime and red cinnamon pickles for holiday tables and other specialty pickles, jams and spreads. Visit the website for store locations and online store.


IFB launches new policy podcast

Illinois Farm Bureau members, you can learn how policy serves as the forefront of your organization and why it shapes what we do through a new, monthly podcast.

The first installment of Policycast with the VP can be heard at {https://bit.ly/38EsbzJ}. IFB Vice President Brian Duncan outlines the organization’s policymaking process and discusses its importance.

The next episode will air Dec. 1. Duncan will be joined in upcoming episodes by IFB staff, members and leadership. Together with Duncan, they’ll dive deeper into the policy issues at hand.