Zaiser Pumpkin Farm / Facebook

John Ackerman of Ackerman Family Farms in Morton admits he feared COVID-19 would threaten the commercial viability of the fall pumpkin season.

Exposition Gardens is looking to jump start an agricultural learning space on its acreage.

Sen. Duckworth: Keep Crop Insurance at Current Levels

Feb 20, 2018
Sen. Tammy Duckworth / Facebook

President Donald Trump has proposed a 33 percent cut to the crop insurance program. That has left area farmers concerned about their ability to weather any storms that could damage their crops. A group of farmers gathered at the Peoria County Farm Bureau Monday and told U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth crop insurance not only should be kept at current levels, it should be expanded to dairy farmers.

Cover Crops Help Preserve Ecosystem

Nov 27, 2017
CAFNR / Flickr

Farmers in Central Illinois are experimenting with cover crops to stop soil erosion. Cover crops can also help stop an environmental threat hundreds of miles away. But, do cover crops cut into a farmer’s finances or solvency? Illinois Public Radio's Mark Schultz has our story.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A 768-pound pumpkin took home the gold during the weigh-in at the annual Pumpkin Festival in Morton.

Ten years ago, Cindy Bonnet found out she was getting new neighbors in Nora, Illinois: 10,000 cows. It’s what’s known in the industry as a “concentrated animal feeding operation,” or CAFO: basically a big cow warehouse, with a giant trough under it to catch their waste.

Researchers Boost Soybean Crop Yield By Removing Leaves

Nov 23, 2016
United Soybean Board / Flickr

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that reducing the number of leaves on soybean plants can increase crop yield by eight percent.  In replicated trials on the Urbana campus, researchers removed up to one third of the emerging leaves on soybeans to boost yield.

Project lead Praveen Kumar, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the U of I,  says producing more food without using more land is vital.

“We are probably maxed out in terms of available arable lands, so we really need a different strategy to increase productivity.”

2016 Pumpkin Crop "Well Above Average"

Oct 10, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The city of Morton is touted as the “pumpkin capital of the world” because Libby’s is based there. Libby’s holds the title because it dominates the U.S. production of canned pumpkin. But last year’s crop was devastated by heavy summer rains, too early in the growing season. Farmers reported yield losses as high as 90%. Peoria Public Radio’s Cass Herrington visited a 100-year-old family farm to see how it’s faring this year:


67th HOI Fair Highlights Agribusiness

Jul 8, 2016
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The 67th annual HOI Fair starts up this evening.

Roxy Baker helps plan the fair. She says this year’s schedule of events focuses on agribusiness.

“We want the urban setting that we’ve become, we want those people to come in and see what it is, what agribusiness is.”

Alternative Heat / Flickr/Creative Commons

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Cover crops are regaining popularity in central Illinois as a way to preserve nutrients in soil and purity in water runoff.

These secondary crops, such as oats, canola and cereal rye, were once planted after the main harvest to provide feed for livestock. But the cover crops are gaining fresh attention for their natural ability to improve soil structure and keep nutrients in place.

trekkyandy / Flickr/Creative Commons

PEKIN, Ill. (AP) - Farmers are seeing more insects than normal for this time of year because of warmer weather.

The  early hatch of insects could be welcome news for agriculture because there will be less for insects to eat. 

Tazewell County Farm Bureau Manager Doug Godke says the early hatch could mean insects die off without enough food. Certain types of beetles can eat foliage on soybeans and the silk on corn plants resulting in poor harvests. 

Godke says most farmers are planting insect-resistant crops, which also helps keep insect populations in check.

Bright Farms, Inc.

ROCHELLE, Ill. (AP) - A New York-based farming company has broken ground in northern Illinois on a hydroponic greenhouse that officials say should be operational next year. BrightFarms Inc. on Thursday began construction on a $10 million, 160,000-square-foot greenhouse in Rochelle. The facility will produce more than 1 million pounds of salad greens, tomatoes and basil annually. Mariano's, a division of Milwaukee-based Roundy's Supermarkets Inc. will be the greenhouse's primary customer.

Homegrown By Heroes helps soldiers become farmers

May 29, 2015

The Illinois Farm Bureau is boosting a year old program to involve Veterans in agriculture. 

Chefs learn where their food comes from

Jun 18, 2014

About a dozen chefs from Chicago and central Illinois recently gathered for a two-day crash course on where their food comes from – the farm. Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Powers tagged along. And a warning to our listeners, this story contains audio of animals being slaughtered.

Farmers concerned about sharing data

Apr 21, 2014

As farmers use information technology to grow more with less money, many are being asked to share their data. But they're worried about security, privacy, and other problems that could crop up. 

Exploring the right to farm

Jun 6, 2013
(Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media)

Individual state constitutions across the nation spell out a host of guaranteed rights for their citizens … for example, same sex marriage or collective bargaining. But what about the right to farm?   Harvest Public Media’s Bill Wheelhouse reports on what’s behind a new drive to establish that guarantee:

Conversation on "The Midwest Farmer's Daughter"

Apr 18, 2013

Most people are aware that there are fewer farmers today than 30 years ago. But what about the celebrated icon of the farmer’s daughter?   One man who grew up on a multi-generation farm in Iowa and watched what the years have done to his way of life has chronicled these changes in a book titled “The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”.    And while author Zachary Michael Jack was accurate in his observation that there are fewer farmer’s daughters, he found that the number of female farmers is increasing.  Bill Wheelhouse of Harvest Public Media spoke with him:

Out and About - March 29, 2013

Mar 29, 2013

This week, we're talking with Doug Day, director of "What Will Be Your Legacy?" a short play which explores issues about family farming, organic food, and land use. The play is intended to set up a discussion with the audience about policy options and personal choices. Performances in Peoria are Friday and Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. The play will also travel to Urbana and Springfield in the next few weeks.