Harvest Emergency Economic Threat To Illinois Farmers

CHICAGO (CBS) — Massive amounts of crops are ready to be collected, but the weather isn’t cooperating.

And as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports,  it’s an economic threat to Illinois’ farmers.

The Strom family, who’s farm has over 60 acres of corn, has been farming just West of Elgin for the past 100 years.

“This corn is definitely ready to be harvested — we don’t want to be waiting too much longer to get it out,” said farmer Tyler Strom.

Normally, their fields of gold have already been harvested by this time. However, low-hanging ears of corn are still clinging to stalks.

“It’s really ready to be harvested — the ears are hanging down,” Strom said. “If you wait too much longer, ears are going to fall to the ground and that makes a big challenge when you’re trying to harvest.”

This is all due to a rainy Spring, which delayed the planting season, and a wet Fall, which made the ground at many farms too soggy to support harvesting combines.

“Hopefully we’ll get this out in the next week or so. We need the ground to dry up  a little bit more,” said Strom.

Some farms have begun harvesting, but it’s weeks out of sync. As a result, Gov. Bruce Rauner declared a statewide harvest emergency Sunday, which is the first of its kind. It allows farmers to haul 10 percent more grain than regulations allow in their trucks. The aim it to get their product, when harvested, to storage faster.

“Illinois is home to 72,000 farms on 26.7 million acres. We are among the top three corn producers in the nation,” Rauner said while visiting Stewart Farms in Yorkville Sunday afternoon. “Moving corn and other crops in a timely and efficient manner affects the bottom line of hard-working farmers. This declaration is an appropriate response to an urgent need.”

“There’s a lot of farmers that I’ve been talking to that are anxious, they want to get it out of the field and get it into storage,” Strom said. “If I don’t get this corn out, I don’t get it to market, and then I don’t get cash for it.”

Iowa has also announced a harvest emergency.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois corn harvest at the end of Oct. was 17 percentage points behind the prior year, and 11 percentage points behind the five-year average.

The emergency order will run for the next 45 days. The hope is that crops are collected before any major snowfall might complicate the process, as well.

Watch & Listen LIVE