October in my book, is one of the best months of the year.  And with the help of our Pinterest page, here is why:

  1. Pumpkins – This seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate.  I’m on the love side here.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin cheddar mac & cheese, the list goes on and on and on.  How could you NOT like pumpkin, it’s so versatile!  More on this tomorrow…
  2. Pumpkin farms – We are lucky to have an amazing pumpkin farm right down the road from our office and I take my daughter there every year.  Rader Family Farms is fun for all ages, it’s especially great for those families that aren’t from farm.  They get a chance to spend the day on a farm and learn a few things while having fun.
  3. Cooler Temperatures – While I love summer, it’s just not as great as fall.  When the temperature drops and you can wear jeans and a sweatshirt while sitting around a campfire – nothing beats it.
  4. smoreS’mores and Cookouts – Cooking over a campfire makes some of the best food and it’s just downright fun.  Kids can even get involved by roasting hot dogs and s’mores!  What kid doesn’t love a s’more?
  5. Soup – What goes great with lower temps?  Soup of course.  It’s not very appetizing to me to eat a blazing hot bowl of soup when it’s also blazing hot outside.  But when it’s nice and cool out?  Oh yes, bring on the soups!
  6. Fall Decorations – Indian corn, burlap, pumpkins, squash, acorns, pine cones, the list goes on of great decorations.
  7. Halloween – It doesn’t matter how old you are, get dressed up and have fun on Halloween!  Who needs a costume party?  Put on your best mummy or witch makeup and scare the neighborhood kids as they come to your front door for treats!  And I would be remiss if I left out Halloween candy here.  Eat as much as you want, it’s the one time of year that candy is fat and calorie free… right?
  8. Bow-hunterBow season – October 1st marks the beginning of bow season!  There really is no way to feel closer to nature than sitting in a tree stand as the sun rises and waiting for the perfect deer to come across your path.  Filling your freezer with enough meat to get you through the year is a nice perk as well.
  9. Piles of Leaves – Come on, do I even have to explain this one?
  10. 1Harvest – Of course, I saved the best for last…. Such a great feeling comes with harvest.  It’s the time when all of a farmer’s hard work is coming to fruition.  The sights and smells of harvest are the best of the year.

Did I leave one of your favorites off?  Tell me what you love most about October!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


Ethanol. About 96 percent of all gasoline sold in the United States is blended with some percentage of ethanol. What exactly is ethanol you might ask? And why does it affect me? Let’s take a look.

corn in tankEthanol is an alcohol made from renewable resources such as corn and other cereal grains, food and other beverage wastes and forestry by-products. Here in the United States, corn is the dominant grain used in the processing of ethanol. The corn-based substance is added to gasoline to reduce the amount imported by the United States.

So when you are at the gas pump and read the sticker that says, “May contain up to 10% ethanol” now you have a better understanding of what you’re buying! But you may still ask yourself why this is a big deal, so let us talk some numbers and see if I can make you more aware or even change your opinion about this corn-based gas.

10% ethanol

Since 2008, our economy has been struggling to get itself back up from a recession that can arguably be named the worst since the Great Depression. Our job market is slim to none and for those who are lucky enough to have work, they still pay a small fortune to get back and forth from their home. But, there are 204 ethanol plants in the United States that employed 383,000 people in all sectors of the economy in 2012 alone. What a deal right? And with 13.9 billion gallons of domestic ethanol production, the U.S required 485 million fewer barrels of imported oil in 2011. So not only is ethanol providing jobs to our economy it’s making us less dependent on the world for our resources.

emissionsWhat do you think now? Maybe looking at the environmental factors could be even more persuading? In recent years, there has been a profound movement in the United States to go green and protect our environment. The use of E-85, which is a concentration of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline that can be used in all flex fuel vehicles, has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse emissions of nearly 40% and exhaust volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions by 12%. Not only is it helping with our air pollution but ethanol also uses less water than gasoline during processing. 3 to 1 margin to be exact!

But many consumers argue that using ethanol in their vehicles reduces their gas mileage. Although this statement is true, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. As long as E-85 is priced at 20% cheaper than regular unleaded gasoline you will actually be close if not breaking even at the pump. When E-85 is priced at more than 20% less than regular unleaded, although you make a couple more trips to the gas station than normal, you are actually saving yourself some money. Ethanol reduced the average American household’s spending on gasoline by more than $1,200 last year. That’s your hard earned money still in your pocket.

So, when standing at the pump.. faced with the decision to choose regular gasoline or a more blended ethanol product, remember what ethanol is: An alcohol based product that reduces the amount of natural resources used to power your vehicle and keeps some extra cash in your pocket!

jason barrowJason Barrow
Illinois State University student


Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune published a poorly written and poorly researched editorial about ethanol.

Though we are never shocked by the Tribune’s liberal use of the word unbiased, we did feel that the claims made in the article bear some further scrutiny … and to do so, I just have to channel SNL’s Seth Myers and Amy Poehler.

Seriously, Chicago Tribune?  The Renewable Fuels Standard is bad for consumers and bad for the marketplace?  Seriously?

I think we all need a baseline education about what the American fuel marketplace looks like today.  Oil receives massive subsidies to maintain the American appetite for petroleum.  Ethanol does not receive a penny in direct cash outlay.  This is as close to a monopoly as you will ever see, with the oil industry even dictating what independent retailers can sell at their stations.

The Renewable Fuels Standard, mentioned at the end of this editorial, is simply a law that allows other fuels to overcome the marketplace the oil industry has built for themselves by forcing them to allow renewable, cheaper energy sources into the market.

Seriously.  Buying ethanol would be the choice many consumers would make if the choice were offered.  Seriously, Trib.  Seriously.  Why, you ask?

Ethanol is running about 60 cents cheaper right now.   Given the laws of economics, consumers will buy cheaper fuel.  Thus oil’s continual efforts to muddy the good name of our home grown fuel; it’s obvious that they got ahold of the Trib.

And seriously, it is true that farmers can and have chosen to plant corn on their acres … and why shouldn’t they?  Seriously, Chicago Tribune … you just raised your prices in April to reflect a changing economic environment.  Shouldn’t farmers also be allowed to make changes in their business that offer them a profit?  Farmers are not only about the bottom line and would not change their business plan such that their resources were damaged.  But they also need to have a bottom line large enough to feed their families.

And, by the way, that bottom line also trickles through the rural communities, and has helped keep rural economies from tanking the way that much of the U.S. has this decade.  The ethanol market, offering growing demand for our commodity, has buoyed rural communities while the rest of the economy has been in a downward spiral.

I’m not naive and I understand that corn-based ethanol isn’t the next messiah, but I do give credit where credit is due, a trait that obviously the Chicago Tribune does not endorse.  I understand that there will be a next generation fuel to improve on ethanol, or there will be improvements to the ethanol process, the corn production cycle, and maybe many more.

That’s what agriculture does.  Using science, we continually get better, produce more, lower the footprint, increase efficiency.  We will overcome the weed or disease of the year (Goss’s Wilt) and we will continue to deliver for the world consumer.

Seriously, Chicago Tribune?  This is the best unbiased news you can report?  Seriously?

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


In my opinion, October is one of the best months of the year.  Is it because of Halloween? No. What about hunting? Not that either. What about national pizza month? You got it! October is officially the month of the pizza, so in honor of it I will share a fun way for Students to learn about plant growth and nutrition while creating their own garden of pizza ingredients.

pizzaGrow Your Own Pizza Garden

Grade Level: K-3

Materials Needed:

Pizza Box Plastic cups – 6 ounce Soil/Jiffy Pellets Seeds: Tomato, Wheat/Grass, Onion, Peppers, Herbs, etc.

Activity Instructions:

1. Cut holes on the top of the pizza box. Label what will be planted in each.

2. Place a cup in each hole.

3. Plant seeds in each cup using the soil/jiffy pellets and the selected seeds for that hole/cup.

Ideas for use:

1. Plant ahead of time and present to a class.

2. Have class plant the seeds and watch them grow.

3. Use as a gift to a teacher and include a gift card for local pizza place.

4. Use as a teaching tool to match what the seeds grow up to be, what foods come from these seeds, how vegetables are processed into foods we enjoy, etc.

5. Have Fun and Happy Planting!

Below is a little extra information on the separate ingredients and where they come from. This would be a great lesson plan when on the topic of horticulture.

Tomato: Both the species and its use as a food originated in Mexico, and spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Its many varieties are now widely grown, sometimes in greenhouses in cooler climates.

Wheat: is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East and Ethiopian Highlands, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2010, world production of wheat was 651 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (844 million tons) and rice (672 million tons)

Onions: Onions are cultivated and used around the world. As a foodstuff they are usually served cooked, as a vegetable or part of a prepared savory dish, but can also be eaten raw or used to make pickles or chutneys. They are pungent when chopped and contain certain chemical substances, which irritate the eyes

Peppers: The sweet varieties of peppers, especially the bells, traditionally have been by far the most popular in the United States. They are eaten green or ripe and are used for salads, stuffing, soup, stews, relishes and pickling.

Herbs: Herbs are any plants used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs as referring to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), from a “spice“, a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.

Happy Eating!

Nick RumboldNick Rumbold
ICMB Social Media Intern


Are you interested in what Illinois farmers are doing on their fields this fall?  A few of our farmer leaders shared their harvest experiences so far, including yields and timing.  Read on!

You might want to know the following definitions and background information to qualify their summaries:

AVERAGE YIELD: Yield is calculated as bushels per acre.  A bushel is about the size of a large bag of dogfood and an acre is similar to the size of a football field.  Last year, during the drought, Illinois had an average of 105 bushels per acre and the year before that, 168 bushels per acre.

ROTATION: Farmers utilize a variety of crop rotations on their fields for different reasons that depend on the nutrient availability, the soil time, and more.  Most popular is probably a corn/corn rotation (where you plant corn every year) or a corn/soybean rotation (where you plant corn and soybeans every other year).

DOUBLE CROP: The practice of planting two crops and getting two yields in one year from any given field.  This is most commonly done in Illinois with wheat planted in the fall, overwintering, and being harvested in June/July and then following up with a crop of soybeans ready to harvest in the fall.

Jim Reed, Monticello, IL: Started harvesting corn on September 23.  The field I was in was corn planted on May 2.   Yield was 206 on 40 acres.  Opened up the next field planted on May 8 and the field was too wet so I stopped.   I won’t start harvesting soybeans until later this week. Everything standing good so far. We were one of only two people hauling in to our elevator yesterday. Not many local farmers starting yet. Lots of new technology in the cab this fall with auto steer and mapping. Lots of beeps and  bells going off all the time. Very confusing.

Jeff Jarboe, Loda, ILCombines are rolling here in Ford County. Picked corn on a farm that had .3 inches of rain in the last 2.5 months. I was pleasantly surprised with the 164 bushels per acre for the field. Combined beans today, but went around green spots so I don’t really know the yield. 

Don Murphy, Harvel, IL: Started corn harvest on the morning of September 23.  Got 65 acres completed.  Yield was 230 bushels per acre. Corn harvest in the area will get very active near any time now in my area.

Larry Hasheider, Okawville, IL: Started corn harvest September 20.  Yield is 192 bushels per acre average on 50 acres. At the same time we are irrigating double crop soybeans. Last good rain was July 18.  Corn planted early in the spring is the best; after that yields will fall measurably. I guess we got our normal annual rainfall for the whole year back in April to June.

Bill Christ, Metamora, IL: Very little harvest here in Woodford County so far.  Early corn reports are better than expected with a lot of 200 bushel corn on soybean rotation fields.   If the grape harvest is any indication of the corn harvest, it will be very good!! 

Paul Jeschke, Mazon, IL: We started harvesting corn Saturday for a September contract. This particular field was a corn on corn rotation and made ~180 bushels per acre for yield.  This area may be our best because of an extra rain it got. 

Gary Hudson, Hindsboro, ILSome neighbors are picking around the edges, but mostly the fields are still wet in our area.

Lou Lamoreux, Lanark, IL: Started last week.  First 50 acres yielded 250 bushels per acre.  I am also filling silos with wet corn to feed my cattle. 

Jeff Scates, Shawneetown, ILCorn harvest is 25 percent complete.   Late planted corn is still being irrigated and yields have been pretty good so far.

Tom Mueller, Taylor Ridge, ILVery little harvesting done in Rock Island County. 

Don Duvall, Carmi, ILHarvest has started for a few people in White county.  The fields that were planted early are probably yielding the best farmers can remember for those fields. 

Dirk Rice, Philo, ILHarvested 25 acres corn on September 23 at 180 bushels per acre yield.  This is the highest ground I have and while it is my best farm in a wet year it is over 100 bushels over what the other side of the same hill made last year.