As of mid-October, Peoria County crops are being harvested at a brisk pace as clear, blue skies prevailed the first half of the month. Estimates put both corn and soybeans at more than 50 percent harvested, and with today’s combines, that percentage will increase significantly each day the sun shines.
Most farmers seem pleasantly surprised with the pace corn and soybeans have flowed through the combine. Reports of 50-bushel soybeans and 170-bushel corn have been made, although the averages will likely be several bushels lower. The grain markets reflected the seasonal harvest pressure and unexpected good yields as they turned lower. Nonetheless, most farmers will have a good crop to sell from the 2002 season.
In Peoria County, farmers harvest an average of 100,000 acres of corn each year. One acre is approximately the size of a football field. If each acre produces 150 bushels, Peoria County would yield 15 million bushels of corn alone.
What is this corn crop used for once it leaves the farm? Undoubtedly, several of you reading this article will either be attending or watching a football game this weekend. So how does corn relate to football? Actually, corn plays a very important role in any football outing.
First of all, if you’re traveling to the game, your vehicle could be running on a 10 percent ethanol blend. Ethanol is made from corn. Most of today’s footballs are covered with leather, which is made from cows, and cows are fed corn. Adhesives and binding agents—which contain corn dextrins and cattle gelatins—are in the tapes and bandages players use. Photographers line the sidelines. They use film, which contains cornstarch (as a spreading agent).
Once you’re in the stands, you might drink a soda, which contains high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. Hotdogs contain pork or beef, and both pig and cattle are fed corn. If you order some nachos and cheese, the nachos contain corn flour, and the cheese is made from the milk of dairy cows. Popcorn and pretzels both contain corn oil, and chewing gum has corn syrup as an added sweetener.
Other farm commodities also play a vital role in a football game. The tickets, programs, and schedules issued at the game are printed on paper from trees, and soy ink made from soybeans may have been used to print them. The players are wearing uniforms made from cotton. Obviously, cotton isn’t grown by Peoria County farmers, but it’s a critical crop to farmers in the southern states.
As you pass harvested corn and soybean fields this fall, think about how those crops are being used and the dollars they’re generating into our local economy—even if it’s just a Sunday afternoon football game. IBI