MAZON, Ill. — One acre of corn and one acre of soybeans
planted on the Paul and Donna Jeschke farm has a special meaning for the group
of Illinois Farm Family Field Moms.
At the end of the growing season, the urban and suburban
moms will decide how to spend the net income from these two acres.
During a visit to the farm, the moms saw their corn acre
already growing on the farm near Mazon. The soybean field with the mom’s acre
will be planted as soon as conditions allow.
“We planted this field on April 21, in 30-inch rows and
34,000 plants per acre,” explained Paul Jeschke. “The plants should be 6 inches
apart in the row, and one of the main reasons our yields have gone is the
genetics of the corn has allowed us to put more plants per acre.”
Jeschke told the field moms that when he started farming in
1975, he planted from 24,000 to 25,000 plants per acre and the average yield was
less than 100 bushels of corn per acre.
“Today, the trend yield is 160 bushels of corn per acre,” he
“Compared to 1980, we apply about the same amount of
phosphate, potash and nitrogen to the soil today and yet our production has gone
up about 87 percent,” he noted. “Part of that is due to the better corn
genetics, and it is also a result of better placement of nutrients in the
Fields of the Jeschke farm are soil-tested every four years.
“Our planting season started last year when harvest was
over,” said Tyson Dollinger, Jeschke’s nephew who also is involved in the
operation. “We create maps using GPS and yield monitors in the combine that show
the number of bushels produced per acre across the field.”
The farmers take the yield information, combine it with the
soil samples and then apply the appropriate amount of phosphate and potassium.
At planting, the farmers use the maps to look at soil
fertility, soil type and previous yields to generate a variable rate planting
“This determines how many seeds per acre to plant for each
part of the field,” Dollinger said.
With the GPS system, the planter can sense when it goes into
an area that’s already planted.
“It will shut rows off, so we don’t plant seed where we’ve
already planted,” Dollinger explained. “Planting is the most important job — if
you mess up planting, you have to wait to try again next year.”
The sprayer on the Jeschke farm also is equipped with GPS
“It automatically tracks where I sprayed, and my monitor
shows me where to drive,” Jeschke said. “I’m spraying 90 feet within two-tenths
of a foot, so there is very little overlap because that’s wasted
At the end of the field the sprayer shuts off
Jeschke told the moms that he is required to keep records on
all the chemicals he sprays on his crops and those records are subject to random
spot audits by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
“I also have to have a pesticide applicators license,” he
said. “I take training and pass a test to get this license, which I need to even
purchase the products.”
Glyphosate is one herbicide Jeschke uses on his farm to
“Glyphosate, or Roundup, is one of the safest herbicides
developed — it only acts on green tissue, so I spray it on weeds that are
growing,” he said.
“Through genetic engineering, the corn and soybean plants
are tolerant to Roundup,” he explained. “I’m ecstatic I can use such a safe
product that kills the weeds, but not my crops.”
How crop insurance works was among the many questions asked
by the moms. Jeschke said there are many crop insurance options.
“The best coverage I can purchase is 85 percent of my
long-term average yield times the price of the crop in February or November,” he
said. “That coverage is expensive, up to $40 per acre.”
In contrast, Jeschke said he could purchase a minimal amount
of crop insurance for just a few dollars per acre.
“Crop insurance is not made to give you a profit if you have
a disaster year. It is designed to help cover some of the costs,” he
In 1988, a terrible drought hit Illinois and Jeschke did not
have crop insurance because at that time it was expensive.
“It took us six to seven years to make back what we lost in
1988. Our net worth dropped that much,” he said.
This is the second year the Jeschkes have welcomed the Field
Moms to their.
“We love to do this. We’re glad you could be here,” Donna
Jeschke told the moms.
“We got involved because we are passionate about
agriculture, and we love talking to people about agriculture,” Paul Jeschke
added. “This is a big deal because these moms gave up a day to come and see what
Illinois Farm Families are Illinois farmers who support
Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn
Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board, Illinois Beef
Association, and Midwest Dairy Association through farmer-funded checkoff or