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Farmers get ready to hit fields

Planting should amp up this week

A farmer near Grand Ridge begins preparing his fields Monday as the planting season is set to begin soon.
A farmer near Grand Ridge begins preparing his fields Monday as the planting season is set to begin soon.

Motorists should prepare to see farm equipment on rural highways this week.

Only a week removed from winter temperatures, La Salle County farmers expect planting efforts will ramp up in the next few days.

Cold soil temperatures and damp conditions have stalled farmers from getting early crops in the field, but forecasts with sunny skies and highs in the 60s have farmers hopeful they can start planting this week.

If farmers are able to start planting soon, they'll be within their window of opportunity to maximize yield.

"We have all the yield potential still, so we're not too late," said Barry Beetz, of Mendota. "Ideally, we would have been in the fields last week, but we weren't there yet."

The best conditions may be in the northern part of La Salle County, because it managed to miss the early April snowfall and stay drier than the southern half. Beetz said he was beginning prep work, which included fixing field washouts.

"We're hoping to be planting by Wednesday," Beetz said. "I see a couple guys starting in Mendota."

The southeastern part of La Salle County, near Streator, may be a little behind the northern portion, but farmers still believe they'll be planting toward the end of the week. If farmers were out Monday, chances are they were patching tiles or doing work on ditches.

"It's still too wet," said La Salle County Farm Bureau President David Isermann, of Streator. "I haven't done anything yet, and I haven't seen anybody in my area do anything yet."

The same conditions apply in Marseilles, said David Myer.

"Every year is a little different," he said. "This year isn't too unusual."

Myer was on a trip Monday to Missouri; he said there weren't many farmers planting in Missouri or in the Springfield area.

"They're usually 10 days ahead of us," Myer said of the Springfield area. "There wasn't a lot of activity down there."

If conditions remain favorable, Beetz predicts farmers will be mostly planted in the next 12 days.

Isermann reminded the public to be cautious around slow-moving farm vehicles in the next month as planting season comes into full swing.

Driving safety tips for sharing the road with farmers during planting season:

Stay at least 100 yards behind farm equipment. Vehicles will have a triangular slow-moving emblem displayed on the back. Remember to allow space for any quick stops, flying debris, or other unexpected event.

Don't assume farmers can see your vehicle. Drive far behind farm equipment to ensure farmers know you are there.

Use caution when passing. If you cannot clearly see what lies ahead of both your vehicle and the equipment you are passing, do not pass. Never pass farm equipment when approaching a hill or curve, and do not attempt to pass when within 100 yards of an intersection, bridge, railroad crossing or tunnel.

Remember when farmers exit, they will be moving at slow speeds. Reduce speed and yield quickly as you approach farm equipment.

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