Planting During Pandemic

Posted: April 21, 2021

Farmers plant crops going on the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s spring, which means corn and soybeans are being planted in fields all around DeKalb County. So what’s different this year from last year?

Farmers are still essential workers.

We count on farmers to do their jobs of growing food to sustain us. They are currently planting the top crops of corn and soybeans on the majority of farmland.

They work hard to get the crops planted in a short window of time, typically from mid-April to the first of June.

There are about 850 farmers in DeKalb County that will be planting nearly 330,000 acres of corn and soybeans this spring.

Many farmers and their employees have been vaccinated.

When the vaccines became available and it was their turn, several farmers got the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots. Like others, they chose this protection against the Coronavirus.

They were among ag workers and the rural community that took action to safeguard against the worldwide virus and reach herd immunity.

Covid-19 impacted the rural population just as it did the urban community. Some farmers tested positive for the virus. Fortunately, most recovered.

Ag businesses still follow pandemic guidelines.

Farmers count on agribusinesses for farm inputs essential to planting and growing crops. Seed, fertilizer, and crop protectants are obtained at local ag supply companies. 

These agribusinesses continue to follow pandemic guidelines as they interface with their farm customers. Masks are required and social distancing is recommended.

Some ag-related companies, like the Farm Service Agency of the USDA, still have restrictions which limit visits (appointment only) to the office for conducting business.

Most companies are abiding by the Illinois Department of Public Health Directives.

Weather continues to impact spring planting.

Planting progress is contingent on weather. Too much rainfall will shut down planters for days at a time. Not enough precipitation will impact the emergence of the seed and plant growth.

Farmers have a tendency to complain about weather: being too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold. That’s understandably so, because much of their livelihood depends on weather.

Early in the planting season farmers have to consider changing weather and the possibility of a late frost that could stunt their growing crops. Other severe weather during the growing season like strong winds, hail, or tornadoes can flatten growing crops.

Farm and city people still need to coexist.

In rural DeKalb County there are farm fields which stretch from one end of the county to the other. Nearly 90% of the land in the county is farmland.

During the busy planting season farmers are moving their equipment from field-to-field. But to get to those fields requires travelling on country roads, highways, and sometimes even going through towns.

Motorists need to be patient when sharing the roads with farmers and their equipment. As farm vehicles travel at slower speeds, motorists should only pass the farm equipment when it’s safe to pass.

Both farm and city people should pay attention while driving on local roads.

There’s no food shortage during the pandemic.

Rest assured, our country has an adequate supply of food – thanks to farmers who continue to grow safe and nutritious food for families.

In year two of the pandemic we are seeing our grocery shelves fully stocked. Last year certain foods may not have been available at the grocery store due to stores not able to restock some foods and disruptions in the supply chain. But there was no food shortage.

Last year we also saw some disruptions in the meat industry with packing plants not working at full capacity due to Covid. This caused some market disruptions for livestock farmers. Thankfully we have worked through these meat supply chain issues.

So in our second year of the pandemic, the agricultural industry continues to be on course with a continuous supply of food and fiber. And like everyone else, farmers hope that the pandemic will soon be over.