July 15, 2024

Northern Illinois farmer likes conditions, hopes for better prices

First pass

Steve McNally, of Triumph, Illinois, began planting on April 24. While soil and moisture conditions were good for planting around 120 acres of an AgVenture research and demonstration plot, McNally said low commodity prices and high input prices continue to be a concern.

TRIUMPH, Ill. — Steve McNally dug into the soil on his La Salle County farm to reveal a freshly planted corn seed.

“Soil conditions are real good. I plant about two inches deep and there’s very nice moisture down there,” he said.

McNally started in mid-April, planting a research and demonstration plot of AgVenture corn.

As a seed salesman for AgVenture, McNally will use that plot on his home farm, where he lives with wife, Tina, to show off new and established varieties of AgVenture corn to current and prospective customers.

But putting the plots in takes patience — and careful cleaning.

“This one has 19 different varieties in it. I have an eight-row combine and this is a 24-row planter. I do three numbers on each pass, so I will have eight rows of each number. It’s one pass down, stop, clean everything out thoroughly, then put the next three numbers in,” McNally said.

McNally, who has been with AgVenture for six years, farms about 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans in north-central Illinois, in La Salle and Bureau counties.

“Right now, the biggest concern is just getting it in the ground,” he said.

But even as he loaded up the planter and prepared to make one more pass, other concerns were on McNally’s mind.

“The commodity prices going down is a real hard one because it’s getting very close to that breakeven point. That’s my big concern. And our inputs are still high,” he said.

While cool nights still were a concern for early-planted corn and soybeans, McNally said that the threat of insect pressure also was on his mind.

“I’ve heard some guys say that the ground really didn’t freeze hard this year and they’re worried about insect pressure. Right now, at this stage of the game, we don’t know what that’s going to be until the crop gets growing,” he said.

McNally’s corn will go to Marquis Energy, an ethanol plant in Hennepin, or to terminals on the Illinois River, for shipment overseas.

He said he hopes that more uses, as well as more markets, can be found, including sustainable aviation fuel, for the corn and soybeans that he and other farmers are planting.

“It’s such a world market now, with South America growing more product than we are, that is where the big shift is happening. There is just so much grain. Any way we can find for another use for it is a good thing,” he said.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor