Visiting an Illinois Corn Farmer

Two of our summer high school students had an opportunity to visit an Illinois corn farmer to hear about the problems he has been having with the drought. Farmer John Kiefner gave us a short lesson in Agronomy 101 and showed us examples of some of the problems he has been having including not enough water, high temperatures, warm nights, and increased pests. One of the things Farmer John pointed out was that the drought has stressed the crops, which makes them more susceptible to pests. So in addition to dealing with a lack of rain, farmers also have to spray for pests so they can save what crops they can. Japanese beetles devoured corn silk leading to pollination problems (see picture above) as each kernel of corn must be pollinated separately by an individual corn silk.

1 foot of topsoil can hold 2 inches of water. In places exposed to the summer (not protected by a mulch or canopy of plants) the soil was incredibly dry. 

Brandon and Michael getting to play the corn silo while Farmer John works in the background.