Tricia Braid

Dec 26, 2014  |  Today's News

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight on their website new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

This article was provided by Mark Schleusener, an Illinois State Statistician of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Most people think of corn and soybeans when they imagine Illinois agriculture. That’s not surprising, considering that The Prairie State ranked second in the nation when it comes to harvested acres for both of these crops in 2012. Our farmers harvested more than 21 million acres of corn and soybeans in Illinois during 2012. That keeps a whole lot of combines rolling each fall.

However, Illinois agriculture achievements expand way beyond just corn and soybeans. Our farmers produce a wide variety of crops and livestock. For example, you can probably thank an Illinois farmer when you open that can of pumpkin pie filling this Thanksgiving. With more than 12,500 acres, Illinois growers account for more than three-fourths of all pumpkins harvested for processing in the United States.

Also, to help you spice up your table, Illinois growers rank #1 in horseradish production, harvesting nearly 1,800 acres – more than half of all U.S acreage – of this vegetable in 2012. Horseradish has such a strong presence in our state that one of our towns, Collinsville, Illinois, is known as the Horseradish Capital of the World.

It is not only at the state level that our farmers lead the nation in many farming categories. Our counties rank high as well. For example, Mason County ranked first among all counties in the United States in acres planted to popcorn in 2012.

What unifies all of these crops is the Illinois soil. It is one of our best agricultural assets and our farmers take great care of it. There are 6.1 million acres of cropland on which no-till practices are used in Illinois.  Another 7.7 million acres are under conservation tillage practices. Lastly, Illinois producers planted more than 300,000 acres of cover crops in 2012. All of these techniques help to preserve the great soil of Illinois for future generations of producers.

I can go on and on about all the amazing agriculture accomplishments in Illinois, but there are too many to list them all here. If you are interested in learning more about Illinois agriculture, you can always check out Census of Agriculture.