A Publication of WTVP

Peoria County farmers planted corn and soybeans on schedule for the 2001 growing season. There were several unusually warm days in April and the beginning of May to get the corn off to a good start. Germination and uniformity of population stands are just about as good as they’re going to get. We’ve a long ways to go until harvest, but we definitely had a good start in the Peoria area.

With another good corn crop in progress, we’re always looking for ways to utilize more of the surpluses. Several Peoria County farmers took a day away from the farm earlier this Spring to try and help eliminate our large production and abundance of corn. They visited numerous gas stations in the Peoria area to see, first, if they were using the 10 percent ethanol blend; and if they were, to put a new highly visible ethanol label next to the corresponding pump.

Have you seen this new label? It’s blue with yellow lettering and reads "Cleaner Air For Illinois, 10 percent Ethanol." There is also an ear of corn depicting a gas station pump on one side of it. We’re hoping consumers will be able to more easily identify the ethanol blend, and in turn, use it.

Why should you use ethanol in your vehicle? First, it’s good for your vehicle. Ethanol boosts the octane in gasoline and keeps your fuel system cleaner.

I’ve been testing it for the last 300,000 miles and haven’t seen any serious problems. In 1989, I bought a 1987 Chevy Celebrity. It had 70,000 miles on it. Over the next six years, 25,000 to 30,000 miles were put on this vehicle each year.

When I traded it in 1995, it had 230,000 miles on it. The engine wasn’t touched until mile 225,000, when I replaced three of the six fuel injectors. It was still in excellent running condition that June day in 1995. Hot weather and no air conditioning were my inspiration for trading.

The vehicle I traded for was a 1991 Lumina Eurosport. This vehicle had 75,000 miles at the time of purchase. It has more than 194,000 miles now. The engine hasn’t been touched and is running great.

Obviously, I’m going to use ethanol blend at every opportunity. Over the years, I would say I’ve been able to use the blend on 90 percent of my fill-ups.

Once again, my point is ethanol is good for your vehicle. Once in a while, I hear from someone who blames ethanol for a decrease in engine performance. In reality, what probably has happened, is the vehicle has been running on straight gasoline and carbon deposits have been allowed to build up in the fuel system.

Since ethanol is a cleaning agent, it cleans the fuel system, and these carbon deposits come loose and can clog up the fuel filter or another section of the fuel system.

A second reason to use ethanol hits right in your wallet. Gasoline prices are now more than $2 dollars per gallon in Peoria, and forecasts are for it to climb higher during the peak Summer driving months.

Although ethanol can be made from several biomass products, it’s almost exclusively processed from corn. One 56 pound bushel of corn produces more than 2.5 gallons of ethanol. It’s unsettling that as corn prices go down, gasoline prices go up.

A third reason, and possibly the most important, is that ethanol is good for the environment. It burns cleaner, reduces carbon monoxide, and is renewable. Farmers are always eager to plant another crop of corn.

The next time you fill up, please use the pump with the blue and yellow label next to it. You’re helping your vehicle run better, lessening our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and showing you care about the environment. IBI