Growing up I was active in FFA and 4-H. Those organizations were instrumental in preparing me with necessary skills of leadership, communication, fiscal responsibility, livestock care and so much more. At the time, I thought the skills I learned would only apply if I pursued a career in agriculture. I now can tell you that is only partially true. The skills developed with these two organizations have been critical in my career with the Illinois State Police, teaching at Greenville University, participating on boards and, of course, farming. I traveled to many locations with FFA in high school, including our nation’s capital and Europe. This allowed me to see outside of our small rural community and realize we are part of a much larger agricultural network. Speaking of large networks, the National FFA Organization just announced a record membership this year with 760,113 members.
This week, Bond County Farm Bureau held its annual crop yield survey. Thirty of us participated in the event including Greenville’s FFA adviser, Steve Zimmerman, and his student leaders and officers. Mr. Zimmerman has mentored young ag leaders for 33 years. He has built one of the most successful models for growing young FFA members into adult leaders. I trusted him with both of my boys. He will be a great loss to the district when he retires.
I took advantage of the survey to dig deep into the corn and soybean fields around the county. I found only one field of soybeans and corn that was at the lower end of the county yield threshold. We continue the dry streak this week with more corn turning and beans continuing to fill their pods. Most fields were very clean with a few remnants of Johnson grass, cocklebur and waterhemp. I could easily see the fields unable to use dicamba to fully control their weeds.
Our estimates for Bond County are up from last year’s numbers for corn and soybeans. Corn yield is estimated at 190.29 bushels per acre and the soybean estimate is 53.67. Last year’s estimate for corn was 174.3 bushels and for soybeans was 45.49 bushels. The corn figures were a new recorded high for the survey and the soybean numbers were second highest ever recorded. Over the last 20 years, our estimates are usually close to the actual yields provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.