Farmer Perspectives of the 2021 Crop Year

December 14, 2021

It was another unique year for agriculture in DeKalb County.

Farmers will tell you that they never know what their crops will be like from one year to the next. That’s because of the uncertainty with weather conditions.

While farmers can’t control Mother Nature, they can control their inputs – seed, fertilizer, pesticides – and management practices including crop insurance protection.

This year’s corn and soybean crops varied throughout DeKalb County with some fields receiving adequate rainfall and others short on precipitation during the growing season. Major wind storms later in the summer knocked several corn fields down, especially in the southern part of the county. Weather factors impacted yields resulting in some farmers having a good crop year and others an average crop year.

To understand how farmers and their crops fared, we asked some of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Directors to summarize the 2021 crop year.

“Overall 2021 ends on a positive note for us. Although we had challenges from drought and wind damage, we had above average yields and prices compared to previous years. I am thankful that things have improved from previous years.” Chris Paulsen, Clare
“Harvest 2021 started as early as I have ever experienced. Our soybean harvest ended earlier than the past. Corn harvest on the other hand was very difficult on machinery and mental health due to down corn.” Ed Cowan, Big Rock
“An extended dry period heading into harvest set the tone for the 2021 crop season. This unusually hot and dry stretch decimated the corn stalks but also was advantageous in the fact that it dried down corn extremely fast. This also led to many varieties going down due to weak stalks and high winds making harvest a very long and arduous process.” Mike Schweitzer, Malta
“Our planting season went well. We finished earlier than normal. But summer brought us a drought. Corn yields were better than expected considering the drought. Everyone stayed safe and we’re glad to be done.” Roger Faivre, DeKalb
“Harvest 2021 started early, fast and furious. By October 6 we were half done and I expected to complete harvest by mid-October – a record finish for us. That was wishful thinking though as downed corn and wet weather laid those plans to waste. In the end we finished in early November with very good, but not great, yields. Another harvest in the books.” Jamie Walter, DeKalb
“This year’s crop turned out to be very good and exceeded expectations for some growers, which was a blessing for such a dry and insect pressured year. Although fields saw pressure from early rootworm feeding, plants were able to retain yield despite the root lodging. Soybeans were planted early and weather limited excessive growth helping the final yield.” Steve Drendel, Malta
“What looked like a record corn crop in July changed when we were hit with multiple wind events: hail, tar spot and rootworm trait failure. We ended up with 30-60 bushel per acre losses from low test weight, harvest loss and unharvestable corn fields. Harvest started smoothly in September, then rains kept us out of fields for part of October. November weather improved and we finished harvest.” Roy Plote, Leland
“It was a dry year! Timely rain was the word for the spring and summer. We were about eight inches of rain short about mid-summer, but the crops looked great and we ended up with good yields. Not bumper crops, but good crops. With $6 corn and $12.50 soybean prices, it was a good year.” Ed Peterson, Kingston
“We had a good crop year. Corn and soybeans stood well and dried down naturally in the fields. Our beef cattle had a good year too, despite having a slight delay in processing.” Leon Brummel, Genoa
“Our growing season was filled with many extremes with corn and soybeans. We had different weather events, lack of rainfall, and wind, to name a few. Yet harvest was completed in a safe manner. At the end of the year we have much to be thankful for.” Don Willrett, Hinckley