As the mercury flirts with 60 degrees F, many of you can start to feel the spring planting fever take hold.
Rest assured, preparations for the largest showcase of U.S. ag are well underway. If you haven't yet, mark your calendar for Aug. 27, 28 and 29. The Farm Progress Show touches down in Decatur for these three consecutive days of equipment demos, crop plot showcases and livestock handling tips.
We're coming off of seven consecutive years of selling every square inch of exhibit space. Though many were worried about a slowdown after the 2012 drought, this year will be no different. Energy within the ag equipment sector is high. Once again, we've sold out of exhibitor space.
Every year, the top question is "What's new?" This year, we're planning a demonstration plot for cover crops. These soil-building, nutrient-saving crops are at the top of everyone's minds these days. Heading up the effort is Illinois Council of Best Management Practices coordinator Mike Plumer. Plumer has been coordinating cover crop test plots across Illinois for years. He's widely recognized across the state as a cover crop guru.
The cover crop demonstration plot will be located outside of the show grounds. The information will focus on a general understanding of cover crops, including planting dates, soil benefits, differences in varieties and termination. Be sure to check www.farmprogressshow.com for more information as it becomes available.
The show's big draw – harvesting and tillage demos – will run just as they have in year's past. The combine demos begin at 11 a.m. outside the show grounds. Tillage demos start at 1 p.m.
This year, Tuesday and Wednesday's harvest demos will feature twin-row corn. On Thursday, combines will run on traditional 30-inch rows. As in years past, maturity will range from 96-99 day hybrids. Also, this year all corn will be planted with RTK-enabled guidance systems.
A couple of years ago, we started a new segment within the tillage demos – high-speed tillage. We've continued to refine these demos. This year, each pass will be marked with an identifier that includes the make and model of implement used. Show goers will be able to compare implement passes even hours after the demo.
As always, the show is open to the general public. Admission is $15 for adults, $8 for students 13-17 and free for children 12 and under. The gates open at 8 a.m. on all three days. The show closes at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, the gates close at 4 p.m.
For those looking to camp at the show grounds, the overnight parking lot opens at noon on Monday. Check out the website for additional information on local campgrounds.
If you're looking for a little evening recreation after the show, the Macon County Fairgrounds are hosting a tractor pull on Monday and Tuesday night. Located on the northwestern edge of Decatur, it's a short drive from the Farm Progress Show site.
Also, Farm Progress and Richland Community College will again be hosting a country music concert on Wednesday night. I'll have more details in a future column, including ticket and headliner info.
In the meantime, help quell that spring fever by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. We'll post all sorts of show news and information on these social media outlets as it becomes available.
I look forward to seeing you all in Decatur. Now, I need to get back to placing that order for 70-degree highs in late August.