crowd watching demos at the Farm Progress Show
GATHERED: “We’re on our seventh pass through Decatur now, so we have hybrids narrowed in so if we get a normal growing season … we’ll have corn in great shape to harvest by the end of August,” says Matt Jungmann, national events director for Penton Ag.

Corn planting near perfect for FPS field demos

Farm Progress Show: Conditions were just right when FPS host farmers and organizers planted some 300 acres of corn on and around April 15.

Say you had to bring tens of thousands of people to your farm to watch you harvest corn … in late August. When do you think you’d be the most nervous?

If you answered “during planting,” you’re right on — and you’re right on with what it’s like to get 300 acres of short-season corn in the ground for the 2017 Farm Progress Show field demonstrations.

Prairie Farmer caught up with Matt Jungmann, national events manager for Penton Ag, for a look at what planting conditions were like at the Decatur, Ill., site, and what you might see at this year’s Farm Progress Show, home of the largest field demonstrations in the U.S.

How did field demonstration planting go? For the most part, they all went in around April 15 — some a couple days earlier and one field was a week after. But it all went in safely and in great conditions. We’ve got to get it in the ground so we can harvest at the end of August in Decatur, and sometimes we have to push that planting date, and it’s not ideal conditions. But conditions were great this time.

And with four host farmers who have, between them, one 16-row planter and three 24-row planters, it does not take long to knock that out and get it in the ground.

What hybrids are you using? We’re on our seventh pass through Decatur now, so we have hybrids narrowed in so if we get a normal growing season, with normal heat units, we’ll have corn in great shape to harvest by the end of August. They’re 98-to-101-day Wisconsin hybrids, so not something most Illinois farmers will plant.

We have a good partnership with FS; they provide all the seed, crop protection and fertilizer for field demos. They’re an amazing partner for that project.

Anything new or special with row spacing? We have host farmers at different places on the adoption curve. We may have 20-inch rows eventually, but not until more than half the corn heads are 20-inch and more than half the planters are 20-inch. Companies want to demonstrate the latest and greatest, but they also want to be able to speak to the most farmers possible during the Farm Progress Show.

What will the field demonstration layout look like this year? All I can hope for is that harvest demos go as well as they did in 2015! We just want a good growing season and good weather for the show. We’ve added a new gravel road feeding the field demos, which means it will be easier to get to the field demos and the Ride ‘n’ Drive areas. Tiling demonstrations will be a quarter mile further north on that road, and we’ll still have 40 acres’ worth of tiling demos.

The Illinois Land Improvement Contractors designed a master plan after the 2011 show. They’ve put in a huge main to serve the northern half of that section, and then the plan is to put in another 40 acres of tile every other year during the show.

What else is happening at the site these days? The new Case IH building is done, and we held our first exhibitor meeting in there a couple weeks ago. It’s a beautiful addition to the show site.

We have partnered with Richland Community College, Macon County and some other community members to make some significant road repairs on the exhibit field. This site was built in 2005, and we’ve had lots of heavy loads coming through since then. We’re doing an extensive road rebuild to make sure it’s a good-quality site for everybody. We don’t want it to break apart right before the show, so we do it now to get ahead of it.  

What are you most excited about at this point? With the expansion we made of the show site in 2015, I came in this year worried about whether we could fill it — but I’m really happy to say the show site is going to be full! And it’s reorganized with plenty to see in new places. The 600-piece puzzle is done, and a lot of pieces have moved. It’s really going to be fresh, and it’s certainly going to be a brand-new show in 2017.

Hosted by Prairie Farmer, the Farm Progress Show will be held in Decatur, Ill., on Aug. 29-31.

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