April 20, 2024

A Year in the Life of a Farmer: Rush giving back, looking forward

AgriNews will follow Matt Rush throughout the entire year. Each month, look for updates about the farmer and the decisions he makes on his farm.

FAIRFIELD, Ill. — Coming from a farm, Matt Rush didn’t think he needed to take ag classes or join FFA upon entering Fairfield Community High School. He now knows that was a mistake.

“I didn’t think it was necessary that I took ag my freshman year because I grew up on a farm and didn’t need to take ag or join FFA. That is probably one of the biggest regrets of my high school career,” he said.

Rush did enroll in ag classes and joined FFA his sophomore year and ended up earning his American degree.

When the school’s ag teacher started an FFA alumni group for the school in 2005, Rush joined up and is active in the events that the chapter conducts, many of which are aimed at fundraising for scholarships. A most recent one combined two of Rush’s volunteer activities.

“On the Sunday that kicks off National FFA Week, we have a big benefit dinner fundraiser. We host that at the fire station, where I am a volunteer firefighter. The money that we raise from that goes toward scholarships that we give to graduating seniors. If a student earns their state degree or their American degree, we give a bonus for that when they graduate,” he said.

Rush said he enjoyed his journey through FFA and wants to help other students in the area have the same opportunities he did through FFA.

“I look at it as a way to give back. FFA gave me so much. I got to travel to so many places and see so many things through FFA and I look at it as a way to give others that same opportunity,” he said.

One of the places Rush will be traveling to is Orlando, Florida, for the 2023 Commodity Classic. Rush said he’s interested in hearing about a variety of topics.

“I think what’s on everybody’s mind is the price of inputs. A lot of our inputs are already locked in, but we have some that aren’t and we are looking at trying to capture a little bit of knowledge on that,” he said.

“The Mexico decree on importing corn is on everyone’s mind. I am sure there will be speakers talking about that and I’m looking forward to hearing from them. On the Corn Growers side, we will have our policy development and it is always interesting to see what grassroots things come from the floor.”

A recent spell of warm, dry weather, with temperatures that reached toward the 70s, did have Rush moving the corn planter around — but the neighbors needn’t worry that the Rushes were starting to plant.

“We were actually out with the planter, not to go plant, but just to get things moved around the shop, doing repairs and moving some stuff around and trying to take advantage of the good weather while we’ve got it,” he said.

When it comes to planting, Rush said current conditions look favorable for a late March or early April start.

“As far as going into planting season, I’m not worried about soil moisture. The insurance date is in early April on beans, but 25 days from now, if the ground is right, or sooner, we would not hesitate to start to plant beans,” he said.

Rush said that he has had good luck with planting soybeans early.

“We have found that planting early beans is a pretty good yield booster for us,” he said.

When it comes to planting corn early, there still is one early planting year that haunts him.

“The only caveat to that early planting is — in 2012 we started planting corn on about March 25. And we all know how 2012 ended up. So, we are a little hesitant when it comes to planting corn in March. Ideally, April 10, April 15, is a good go time for us,” he said.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor