Lotsa Corn Planting, Little Sleeping

My Generation

The past week has been a blur, as Illinois farmers set records planting corn. Has anybody slept at your house?

Published on: May 20, 2013

Wait. What Day Is It?

I'm sitting at our 4-H meeting, which is really the only way I know it's Monday. The past week has been a blur.

As of last Monday, May 13, we hadn't planted a seed. We'd had 14 inches of rain in the preceding month. Rivers had been out. Some of them twice. We'd been stuck in a three-week pattern of three decent days, then four rainy ones. Never enough time for anything to dry out. Temperaments were, shall we say, running a little ragged.

And we weren't alone on our farm. Aside from parts of Illinois north of I-80, the rest of the state was in the same boat. No corn planted.

Our youngest delivers lunch and prepares for her only glimpse of Daddy during the daylight.
Our youngest delivers lunch and prepares for her only glimpse of Daddy during the daylight.

It all changed last Tuesday. The weather broke, the soils dried out. And pretty much ever since then, my husband has been planting corn, punctuated by intermittent patches of sleep. Each night of the past week, John ran until 10:30, 1:30, 11, midnight, 10:30 and 1:30. Then back up and planting in the morning. I've packed lunches, hauled meals, delivered pizzas and made milkshake runs.

Illinois Department of Agriculture confirms what we've experienced. As of last week, just 17% of the corn in the state was planted. By this week (Monday, May 20), 74% was planted.

That may just be historic. A close second would be 2009, when a vast majority of the corn crop went in over Memorial Day weekend. And it confirms what we've said all spring; that when the weather would (eventually) break, Illinois farmers have the ability to get it done in a hurry.

This is why we have big machinery. This is why we have technology that works in our favor. It's called capacity. So that when it's time to put 26 million acres of a $13 billion crop in the ground, we can do it and we can do it in a hurry.

And sleep? We'll catch up on that eventually. We've got beans to plant next.