County Image

Jackson County

Eric Shields

Eric Shields is a second generation CropWatcher who raises corn soybeans and wheat in Jackson and surrounding counties. He is also a farmer-dealer for Asgrow and DeKalb seed, and a part-owner of Shawnee Valley Aviation, a crop dusting service in Southern Illinois. Eric has been farming on his own since 1999. He earned his bachelor’s degree in management, with a minor in agribusiness economics from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.


What a year! I, for one, am glad it’s over. From too much rain and severe flooding to a drought that really was instrumental in lowering our overall yields. It’s definitely been one heck of a year. To give an idea on the extent of the flooding, from Jan. 1 to today, our lock system has been closed 252 days so far. That’s really unbelievable to me, considering that’s really the only hope of keeping our farm fields in the river bottoms dry. With the locks closed, we only have a couple pumps to try to remove the water, but with seep water and sheer volume, it’s impossible to do. On the flip side, farmers in the higher ground went through almost two months with no measurable rain. From one extreme to the other. I’m glad harvest for most in the area is over. With harvest being over, it is also time to say goodbye to the CropWatcher reports. Once again, I’ve had fun bringing you my point of view from here in southern Illinois. I hope you have enjoyed it as well. So, until next spring, be careful, good luck and God bless.


Snow and temperatures in the single digits in November — who would of ever thought? In 20 years of farming, I’ve never had that happen. I guess there is a first time for everything. We started cutting again after three days, and the soybeans were dry. After asking a few other farmers, I guess everyone’s crop was the same way. Let’s hope this week of forecast dry weather will allow all of the remaining crops to be finished. On top of that, lines at the elevator right now are nonexistent. I guess most are still in that wait-and-see what China does, to see if it helps the markets any. Basis levels around here have been getting better as time goes on, but it sure would be nice to see the futures do the same. With a short crop, anything would help. Best of luck to those finishing up out there. It’s time to put 2019 in the books.


After missing a couple weeks of reporting, I must say there has been significant progress with harvest. Most farmers around our area are very close to totally done. Personally, I’m a few hundred acres of late-planted soybeans away from putting 2019 behind me. It’s definitely been one I’d like to forget. Between yields being down on top of all the prevent plant acres, to the endless struggle with the weather, I’m glad it’s about over. If there is a silver lining, it’s that we had a good window for those farmers to get their wheat planted this year. A lot of it looks really good at this point. Hopefully, prices will continue to improve during the next few months and will take the sting out of an already tough year. I want to say thank you for all the local friendly reminders about this article. I cherish everyone’s thoughts, and say good luck and God bless to all this week.


Not really much to report lately. Harvest progress is still steadily coming along. Yields are still all over the board, and wheat planting seems to be going on everywhere. I hope the old adage of “plant your wheat in the dust and your bins will bust” is still true because most of the wheat, so far, has been planted that way. In the dust. On the flip side, we finally have some cooler temps to work in. Even some frost a few days back. Most of the soybeans in the area won’t be affected by it, but I’m sure a few fields are out there. Good luck to all with the continued progress with harvest. Stay safe.