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Stark County

Gary Steward

Gary Steward of Toulon Il., grows corn and soybeans, and custom farms with his son, David.


We managed to finish harvest last week. It will be a year no one forgets. It’s like any playoff game – survive and advance. A big concern is that the fields are in miserable condition. They are compacted and full of ruts that need fixing. If we don’t, yields next year will be negatively impacted. We’ll be behind from the start. This is our last report for 2019. I thank my wife, my son and all my gang that makes this life easier. You’re the ones that help make this struggle worthwhile. Stark County is a great place. Support and camaraderie from fellow farmers is amazing. Thank you for all the kind comments about my weekly report. Have a great winter, and we’ll do it again next year.


Winter arrived again Monday (Nov. 11) with 3 inches of snow and miserable cold. To add to it, the cold snap forced the local elevator to not take wet corn Monday through Wednesday, due to how many gallons of natural gas they would have used those three days. They would have used so much gas that a new minimum monthly rate would have been set that wasn’t acceptable to any of us. Locally, liquid propane is up 85 cents per gallon. That’s an 80% increase. Everyone has run through their prepay propane they booked and paid for last summer. Several guys finished last week, and tillage and fertilizer has been applied. Tuesday morning, the ground was frozen and halted chisel plowing and anhydrous ammonia application. There are still some bean fields not harvested. We got back to picking corn Wednesday. June-planted corn is down to 22% and yields are 70 bushels less than last year. If not for the unknown yields, the market should be at $5 for corn. In the end, we are short millions of bushels. The local elevator is not going to have corn on the ground this fall.


Oct. 30-31 were two of the nastiest end of October days that I can remember. It was not fit to be outside. We had about 6 inches of snow. It also managed to halt harvest through Monday (Nov. 4). Fields were extremely muddy. The local elevator closed for the weekend at all its locations. Most were back at it Monday with trucks sitting on the road. We’re into some June-planted corn that is 100 bushels less than a year ago, and it’s 28% moisture. Second-year corn has shown up as a problem with this year’s yields. First-year corn has yielded well in comparison. Several farmers have finished and are into tillage and anhydrous ammonia. We need to miss a couple of rains. We’re not looking forward to the cold temperatures.


We had around an inch of rain Oct. 26. It was enough that we sat out Sunday. No one complained as we were all tired from long hours harvesting. Everyone picked corn Monday with trucks staying on the road, as it was very muddy. This was June 3 planted corn that was 28-29% moisture. It made 157, so we should have prevent planted that field. We continued until we woke up to snow Wednesday morning. No one harvested anything here as 3 inches of wet snow attached to cornstalks. Thursday was no better. Three more inches of snow and 20-degree temperatures. We’ll do well to pick corn again Monday. Stark County is 90% done with beans and 70% with corn. Most need at least two more weeks to finish harvest. A shoutout to FarmWeek for the nice story about the first ALOT class in 1979. That would be me, second row, far right. Many of us are still friends today.