By Adam Poulisse
Posted Oct. 25, 2015 at 1:00 PM
Updated Oct 25, 2015 at 7:05 PMBELVIDERE — For Marshall Newhouse, a dry fall is good news for him and his 1,400-acre farm in Capron."As far as the weather is going, you cannot ask for a more agreeable harvest," the former Boone County Board member said. "The ground is firm because it's dry. Without the mud, you're not battling with machinery. It aids in the process when everything is nice and dry. Everything works better with harvesting equipment."A wet August and dry fall resulted in a productive harvest, allowing farmers in Winnebago and Boone counties more time in the fields, even if crop prices aren't as high as they were two years ago. The price for a bushel of corn is about $3.50, half of what it was two years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Soybean prices are about $8.60, compared with about $10 last year."If you take good production and depressed prices, you're hoping it will average out to an average year," Newhouse said.Seventy-two percent of corn and 89 percent of soybeans have been harvested in northeast Illinois, according to the USDA's crop report for the week ending Oct. 18. Statewide, 85 percent of corn and soybeans and 76 percent or sorghum have been harvested, each significantly higher than the same time last year.Newhouse was worried that a monthlong midsummer dry spell would hurt the crops, but then came "a sweet spot": a rainy late August that gave way to a dry fall."We were anticipating there would be a yield drag from that stretch," Newhouse said. "When we got to the August rain, it fooled me."Richard Beuth started his combine at 7:30 a.m. Friday, hoping to get a head start harvesting corn on his 1,300-acre Seward farm before the rain."It's been, for the most part, a pretty good harvest," he said. "No rain for a month makes it nice for harvesting," and the yield has been "pretty good.""With this weather, the corn's been drying in the field. (Farmers) don't have to dry it, which saves lots of money."While yields are up, farmers are battling lower crop prices that cut into profit margins."With the good yields, even with the good prices, (farmers) may be able to break even," Beuth said.With his beans harvested, Newhouse is taking care of the corn."I'm about 99 percent positive (Boone County farmers) will meet or exceed county averages," he said.