Hi - there will be at least two more of these visits. we aare pretty well snowed in tonight - guess the weatherman might beright about moisture = altho I think he missed the temperatures G
Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores
A Visit with Gene Gill 12/8/05
Through a hot and dry summer with scattered rainfall,
I wondered how the harvest would turn out. Then came hurricanes on the south coast and the destruction of property. Crop production was predicted to be low and the prospect of shipping down the Mississippi River looked bleak. With all of that on my mind, I waited till harvest was over and fall work completed before I began writings on the state of affairs in Stark County with farmers.
I visited with Gene Gill of Gill Grain and got his view of the situation. He said the bean crop while it was down averaged from 40 to 65 bushels per acre. The yield varied with the amount of rain fall on each field. The corn yield varied from ten bushels per acre to 190 bushels per acre. He said there were surprises in some corn fields. The upland yields varied again by the amount of rain. The fields in the Valley were generally better due to the difference in soils and some light rains at critical times.
The cost of diesel fuel ate into both the cost of harvesting and shipping. Non Genetically Modified beans were shipped to Bloomington, turned into soy milk and shipped overseas. The majority of the corn crop is still stored in the area awaiting better prices. Because of the spring sell off of the 2004 crop and lower production there was room for the 2005 crop. The year was below normal in yield and up in cost of production.
Predictions for the 2006 weather are for a warm and dry winter with a near normal rainfall and temperatures for the spring. Big volcanic eruptions can alter weather patterns and usually make areas East of the volcano wetter and cooler. Weather people have been monitoring the small eruptions of Mt. St. Helens. Gene made the comment that living with the rainfall amounts is something to be endured, it is "the way things are."
There will be an increase in wheat and soybean planting, due to the rise in cost of fertilizer and expense of fuel. Nitrogen costs for the coming year could be as high as five to six hundred dollars a ton, which is 30% higher than normal.
Shipping grain to and from the gulf, which was stopped during the hurricanes, is back to 80% of normal operations. The Gulf facilities for shipping for all products are at to forty percent of capacity since the storms. Gene said that some barges were lost or damaged beyond repair. At one point in time it cost more than a dollar a bushel to ship grain to the Gulf of Mexico from Lacon. The normal cost is 35 cents per bushel.
South Korea is a strong customer for non-GM corn and beans. Crops are being shipped. Of interest here is also the production of soy diesel fuel. A plant in Galesburg is being expanded to increase availability. The Gill farms use all soy diesel for their machinery and their grain trucks.
The agriculture industry's attitude toward feeding the world was evident in this visit. Gene Gill was optimistic about the future and open about the difficulties of the 2005 crop year.