Farm Fresh Podcast: Farm Hats

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“Farm Hats” creator Kent Blunier is one of many farmers who share ‘felfies’ (farmer selfies) on the group’s Facebook page.

Farmers can literally and figuratively wear a lot of different hats in a day. About a year ago, the thought inspired Livingston County farmer, Kent Blunier, to create Facebook group called “Farm Hats.

The idea took root and quickly grew to include farmers from around the world who post “felfies” or farmer-selfies about their day to day activities and what ‘hat’ they might be wearing.

Get the story from the farmer who got the ball rolling in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast. Plus listen every Wednesday at 12:45 for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC Radio. Plus make sure you check out the Farm Hats group on Facebook!

 

Farm Fresh Podcast: Weed & Pest Control

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Weed free fields are more than just for looks. Unwanted plants compete with the crop for sunlight, soil and water.

Check out some of the tools and strategies farmers use to control weeds in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast with farmer Gerald Thompson.

Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. for Farm to Table on WJBC Radio.

Farm Fresh Podcast: Technology for Precise Planting

Straight rows are more than just a pretty picture. For farmers, it’s all about optimal spacing to give each plant equal access to sunlight, water and nutrients.

Check out how today’s technology allows farmers to be precise and what it takes to grow a crop in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast with local farmer Rick Dean.

Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC.

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Strip till is  one of the farming techniques Rick Dean uses on his farm.

Farm Fresh Podcast: Raw Milk

Illinois food safety regulations now allow dairy farms to sell raw milk, but consumers should be aware of the risks.

Get the whole story in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast from Jim Fraley, Livestock Program Director for Illinois Farm Bureau.

Raw milk does not go through pasteurization – the process of heating the milk to kill bacteria or pathogens.

For more on raw milk & food safety, check out these posts from Food Insight, Midwest Dairy Association & Ask the Farmers.

Tune in every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC Radio.

A Harvest of A Different Color

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Some of central Illinois farmer Dan Crider’s corn fields are not like the others, but you probably would not be able to detect the difference unless you peeked under the husks.

For more than 25 years, the Crider family has grown food grade white corn used to make tortillas and tortilla chips on about one-fourth to one-third of their farm.

“The first year we grew white corn, I said ‘It looks like we’re harvesting snow’,” says Anne Crider, Dan’s wife.

IMG_5766Throughout the growing season, white corn plants look pretty much the same as the more typical yellow varieties, but at harvest time a truckload of white kernels stands out in contrast to the more typical golden colored grain.

Dan’s sons Jason, 31, and Chris, 26, both hold full-time jobs off the farm currently, but make time to help their dad, especially during harvest.

The white corn is stored in a grain bin on the Crider farm until it is time to deliver it to The Anderson’s in Mansfield, a grain elevator that specializes in food grade corn.

“Food grade corn must meet standards for moisture, higher test weight and a low percentage of cracked or broken kernels. We also inspect for insect or rodent damage and test for mycotoxins,” says Leo Andruczyk, Regional Food Manager with The Anderson’s.  Mycotoxins are types of harmful mold caused by fungi that can sometimes be found in grain.

“Being food grade is fairly rigid,” Andruczyk says. “Anything that doesn’t meet the standards is rejected.” IMG_5741

Conditions throughout the growing season like rainfall and temperature determine yield, so farmers do not know how exactly how many bushels they have until harvest time.

To fill his contract for a specific number of bushels of white corn, Dan decides how many acres to plant based on estimates, experience from previous years and the type of seed selected.

“The elevator provides us a list of approved seed varieties [for food grade white corn] to choose from,” Chis says. “We purchase the seed and plant one of those varieties.”

The production costs for white corn are similar to yellow corn and growing it uses the same machinery.

“White corn used to have lower yields, but not really anymore.” Dan says. “Some years the white corn out yields the yellow and some years it’s the other way around.”

To see a corn comparison and see more of the story, click here to check out the complete article from McLean County Farm Bureau.

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