2012 Crop Report: IL Corn Farmers Hit Hard By Drought - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

2012 Crop Report: IL Corn Farmers Hit Hard By Drought

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A new report from the US Department of Agriculture tells us what a lot of people around here already know all too well - Last year was a very rough year overall to be a farmer.

The summer's drought took a serious toll on crop production, and it looks like Illinois' corn farmers took a particularly hard hit.

In fact, Illinois has lost its number two spot on the list of the nation's biggest corn producers. It's now fourth among corn producing states, having been overtaken by Minnesota and Nebraska in the rankings.

Iowa remains number one.

That's despite heavy crop losses in that state, too.

According to the USDA's Final Crop Report for 2012, released Friday, Iowa farmers produced about 1.9 billion bushels of corn in 2012, down from nearly 2.4 billion bushels the year before.

The difference was even bigger in Illinois, where corn production dropped from just under 2 billion bushels in 2011 to only about 1.3 billion bushels last year.

Still, local farmers said, it could always have been worse.

"Farmers are pretty upbeat," Kevin Urick, Henry County Farm Bureau President, said. "This has been a pretty positive time the last couple of years, so people are going to keep moving ahead."

That is despite the fact that looking back on 2012 isn't a very pretty picture.

In one photo on display inside Kevin Urick's house, you can see the family farm near Prophetstown in the summer of 2010. It features lush fields and plenty of green.

Another photo on display, taken of the farm at the height of the drought last July, tells a very different story. The scene looks parched and the overwhelming color theme is brown.

"Everything looked good in the spring, and we were planning on a great crop, but things went south," Urick said.

In Illinois, it seems things were particularly bad in the southern part of the state.

Around here, we're told Henry County farmers were among the hardest hit by the dry weather.

But even in Henry County, some farms were affected much more than others.

"We have some of the most variable soils in the whole state of Illinois, from just sand to muck, all on the same farm, so it just depends on what you had for soils and how the rains hit or missed," Urick explained.

2012 was certainly a tough one on the Urick's farm - which averaged about 112 bushels of corn per acre, compared to the 200 or so they've been getting in recent years.

And the Urick's said they were lucky.

"A lot of guys just had a total disaster," Kevin Urick pointed out.

But with a little luck - and a lot of rain - the next season may be a much better one for all of Illinois' farmers.

Local Farm Bureau officials tell us there is a bit of a silver lining for farmers hit hardest by the drought last year: Fields where production was at its lowest in 2012 likely won't need quite so much fertilizer in 2013, and that should save those farmers a little money.

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