View from the Cab: Franklin County farmers surprised by early harvest results

Brownings pleased with yields on early corn, specialty white corn so far this fall.

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Kendall Browning, a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader State Committee from Franklin County, unloads corn on his family’s farm. The Brownings report surprisingly good corn yields so far this season. (Photo by DeLoss Jahnke)

By Daniel Grant and DeLoss Jahnke

Members of the Browning family of Franklin County, who farm for a jaw-dropping 43 landlords in southern Illinois, admit they’re quite surprised with crop production so far this harvest.

After a wet spring and early summer, the Brownings figured, like many farmers, that a lack of rain the rest of the season would result in lower yields.

But that hasn’t been the case so far with their early corn and even in their first year of growing white, specialty corn. 

“It’s been really surprising,” Keith Browning told the RFD Radio Network® during a combine ride-along. “We’ve had real good yields, as high as 190 to 200 bushels (per acre).

“We just started cutting beans (last Tuesday),” he continued. “So I haven’t heard any of those yields, yet.”

The Browning Farm, which consists of three brothers and each of their sons, grew about 300 acres of white corn this year. The Brownings separated and stored the white corn with hopes of selling it for a premium this winter.

Last year, the premium for white corn in that area was about 55 cents per bushel.

“We got most of it (the white corn) out, with yields in the 180- to 185-bushel range,” said Keith, who noted the white corn was harvested earlier than other fields due to weaker stalk quality and the need to dry it at low temperatures.           

So, why are this year’s yields so surprising for the longtime farmers?

“When we got 12 inches of rain in April, it was pretty scary. There was water everywhere,” Keith said. “And we got a lot of water in June and July, and then it shut off. Since August, we’ve had just a couple tenths.”

Yields, as a result, are highly variable across the region, according to Kendall Browning, West Frankfort, who serves on the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader State Committee.

The Brownings are grateful for the recent harvest window as they plan to start planting wheat this month.

“We’ll start planting wheat in another two weeks,” Kendall said. “With the drought conditions, we’re hopeful of the old adage, ‘plant in dust, and the bins will bust.’”

The Brownings also continue to increase the use of cover crops across their operation.

“We’ve been slowly increasing our cover crops the last four years, trying to see the benefits, profitability and management of it,” Kendall said. “With 43 landlords, you’ve got to keep all of them happy to the best of your ability.”

Kendall, a fourth-generation farmer, also sees great opportunities in Illinois Farm Bureau to enhance his skills and the family operation.

“Young Leaders has been a tremendous experience for me,” he added. “I’ve seen the benefits and value of Illinois Farm Bureau.”

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