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There’s no bigger vote of confidence than planting field demo corn — historically a short-season corn — and farmers started planting it April 16-19.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

April 21, 2021

3 Min Read
Planter planting in Decatur for Farm Progress Show
PLANTED: Corn is in the ground for the 2021 Farm Progress Show, to be held in Decatur, Ill., from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Host farmer David Brix used his own equipment to plant his share of the field demonstration plots. Sierra Day

The only saying that there’s no faith like a farmer who plants a seed could well apply to the Farm Progress Show, too: There’s no faith like a host farmer who plants 89-day field demo corn. On 350 acres.

“Farmers don’t go out and plant 350 acres of 89-day corn,” says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress events director. “We wouldn’t make that investment if we weren’t confident we could provide a show in August.”

Jungmann reports the first half of those 350 acres were planted by host farmers Marc Padrutt and Bill Vorhees on their Macon County farms on April 16. Host farmers David Brix and Colby Schwarze planted the rest on April 19.

The corn went in “beautifully,” according to Padrutt, in perfect conditions.

“We’re right on target here,” Jungmann says. “It doesn’t feel like the spring of 2019, where we were fighting and clawing tooth and nail to get in the field.”

Show organizers decided to tighten up maturity following the 2019 show, when they planted 94-day corn. The goal is to hit black layer by Aug. 15, so the 2021 demonstration plots will have 89- to 90-day corn — hybrids that are bred for Wisconsin.

“Nobody’s planting that stuff on purpose in central Illinois,” Jungmann laughs. “It’s not bred to grow in central Illinois heat.”

But the host farmers are still farmers, and everyone’s got the same goal: maximize yield. “Yes, we’re handicapping the crop with the short season. We want it to yield as well as possible but still be ready to go for an Aug. 31 show.”

Growmark provides seed and inputs on the FPS field demo acres, and it’ll also scout and apply fungicide if needed.

The crop is all planted in 30-inch rows with RTK, so nobody on the combines has to look for a planter pass. John Deere provided Padrutt and Voorhees a high-speed, 12-row planter on a Class 7 tractor, and the host farmers planted at 10 mph.


Look for autonomous equipment out on those field demo acres this year, potentially in every demo. Jungmann says he’s been approached by two more companies interested in demonstrating their autonomous equipment, and they’ll join Raven and the Dot autonomous platform for tractors and grain carts. And over in tillage demonstrations, look for an autonomous tractor and tillage rig, too.

Over in Grand Island, Neb., on the Husker Harvest Days site, all the corn is in the ground, and Jungmann reports the alfalfa demonstration field looks “fantastic.” The first cutting will come off in early May.

Like every farmer with corn in the ground, Jungmann feels good about the 2021 show. “It feels better than 2019, because we’re getting crops in the ground. And it feels good after 2020 to do something that looks promising for an event.”

See a video about planting progress at the show site below.

The Farm Progress Show is in Decatur, Ill., this year, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Husker Harvest Days is held in Grand Island, Neb., from Sept. 14 to 16.


About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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