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Freeze, repairs interrupt planting in East Southeast Illinois district
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Freeze, repairs interrupt planting in East Southeast Illinois district

Matt Runge with planter

Matt Runge tends to a malfunctioning part on his planter as he sows a field outside St. Peter. 

ST. PETER, Ill. — It’s been a rough stretch for Matt Runge, but he has a farmer’s attitude — it is what it is.

Planting has been a series of interruptions on his 740-acre Fayette County farm. While finishing one field in late April, a piece on his planter broke. As soon as he got done with that field, his tractor broke down and getting it repaired has been a challenge.

All that follows an interrupted harvest season. His father and farming partner, Robert Runge, passed away last September. Matt Runge was forced to juggle harvest while settling the estate.

Because of the disruption, he was involved in other duties, and avoided the distraction of grain marketing strategy. Prices have risen dramatically over the past few months.

“It was different,” Runge said. “Instead of doing all that work, I had everything to do with the estate. I sold everything across scale. That was the dumbest move I could have made. A guy never knows. I was actually making money once.”

The hydraulic service on his tractor went out and the manufacturer doesn’t make that part anymore. A replacement was ordered, but it didn’t work, and the machine remained in the shop.

Fortunately, he did get a little help. A friend who had finished planting his farm put in 160 acres of corn and soybeans for Runge. As of May 8, he still had more than 400 acres left to plant. But he’s not concerned about getting his crops in.

“Last year I didn’t have a thing in the ground yet,” Runge said. “I started planting corn on May 10, on Mother’s Day. I planted some corn on June 7 and it made 190 bushels. The May 10 corn made 210.”

This year, he began planting on April 23. But winter was a bit stubborn in southern Illinois this year.

“I was afraid to plant the corn in the cold and snow,” Runge said. “A lot of guys did and it’s coming up, but you never know.”

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Nat Williams is Southern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.

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Illinois Farmer Today checks in with farmers throughout the state for our annual update on soil conditions and planting progress.

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