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DeKalb County


CENTENNIAL FARM FAMILIES DeKalb County’s rich agricultural history, and the independent family farms

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DeKalb County

Table of Contents





DeKalb County’s rich agricultural history, and the independent family farms


More of the in-town crowd seek to end local bans on raising chickens


Push back against beer ads



After Farm Bill legalizes cultivation, crop could return to Illinois


DeKalb Taylor administrators look to replace traditional crops with glasshouses


DeKalb County

Published by Shaw Media Editor: Eric Olson Project Manager: Lisa Angel Design & Layout: Allison LaPorta

Articles and advertisements are property of Shaw Media. No portion of DeKalb County Ag Mag may be produced without written consent of the publisher.

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Centennial Fa DeKalb County’s rich agricultural history has as its cornerstone the independent family farm. There are 167 centennial farms in the county. These farms have been owned and operated by the same families for 100 years or more. Reporter Katrina Milton spoke to four such families about their family farms.

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Farm families By KATRINA J.E. MILTON –


Their story: Friends Alvin Dayton and Ralph Wyman visited DeKalb County in 1836 and staked out a claim for farmland before they returned home to Townsend, Massachusetts. The two friends married each others’ sisters and then returned to Illinois. After the 70- to 80-day trip in a small wagon, the families arrived to their farmland and built a 100-square-foot cabin. Later, Ralph Wyman and his wife moved a mile north with their children, and Alvin and Abigail Dayton remained on the original homestead.

In the 1870s, the Daytons’ son, James M. Dayton, began raising sheep on the farm. The sheep would be taken to Sycamore weekly, and then on to Chicago by train. James M. Dayton bought five farms, one for each of his children, including Nora Dayton, John Ward’s grandmother. Ward and his family live on Nora’s farmland, and his son, Stephen Ward, and his wife, Jolene, reside on the original homesite. John Ward raises hogs on his farm and Stephen Ward farms grain. The family no longer raises sheep. Quote: “I love farming; it’s a hard way a life but it is very, very rewarding and a great way to raise your family,” John Ward said. “The major changes to the farm have been the addition of electricity and mechanization of the equipment.

“Tractors can now drive themselves and monitor the grain harvest as you go. We take a great deal of pride in what we do, we enjoy feeding the world and there’s great family times and memories on the farm.”


Their story: William Lenschow purchased the farm from a relative, possibly an uncle, in 1897. There, he had a dairy farm and kept chickens. William Lenschow’s son, Walter, delivered farm-fresh eggs door-to-door twice

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and then in 1885 another 120 acres. In the early days of the farm, the land was plowed with horses and the farm had dairy cows, cattle and hogs. Now the farm has no livestock and Klein lives in DeKalb. Quote: “My two brothers, sister and I all grew up on the farm, it was our home,” Ron Klein said. “I never considered moving away from the area or selling the farm. I love the stories and history. I’m sentimentally attached to our family farm.”


Their story: Jerry Hipple’s great-grandfather, John H. Hipple, moved to Illinois in 1870 from Perry County, Pennsylvania. John Hipple served in the Civil War and lost a brother in the war. Shortly after returning home, both of his parents died. He decided to take his young family to join his sisters in Waterman where he bought a 160-acre farm.

a week to customers in Chicago and its suburbs starting in the 1930s. On Saturdays, he would deliver eggs and chickens for Sunday dinner. Walter’s son, William Lenschow, served in the Army and returned home in 1958. William and his wife Kathy have been taking care of the farm ever since. Quote: “The biggest thing that changed the dairy industry was the invention of a cooling system and transportation,” William Lenschow said. “Today, milk can be moved virtually anywhere. “We’ve had great opportunities through the years with 4-H and FFA, we’ve had cows at a milking contest at Wrigley Field and helped promote the Chicago Bulls. Our family has enjoyed promoting milk in so many ways through the years.”

Thirty years later, Hipple had a heart attack while shucking corn and was found laying in his cornfield. Hipple’s son, Edgar Hipple, Sr. helped start the DeKalb Seed Corn Company and the DeKalb Farm Bureau. In the past, the farm had cattle, hogs, chickens, horses and a variety of crops. Now the farm has no livestock and grows only corn and soybeans. Quote: “My father, Edgar Jr., didn’t want me to farm, so I went to college,” Jerry Hipple said. “After graduating, I returned home. Farming was always something that I wanted to do. I’ve always felt an attachment to the earth. Things have definitely changed through the years, and now that less than 2 percent of the population are farmers, we’re blessed and proud to have our youngest son Adam continue as the fifth generation.” 


Their Story: Ron Klein is a lawyer, but he has never considered selling his family’s centennial farm. Klein’s great-grandfather, Theodore Klein, moved to Illinois in 1875 and bought a farm with 240 acres with existing buildings. In 1882, he added another 80 acres of land with buildings adjacent to his farm

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Clamoring for coops By KATRINA J.E. MILTON

More of the in-town crowd seek to end local bans on raising chickens

Sean Koester didn’t know much about chickens before he moved out to a farm in rural Waterman that had a chicken coop. “The coop was existing on the property when I bought it, so I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’ ” Koester said. “So I watched some YouTube videos and read some books, and now have a flock of chickens.” Koester has about five chickens and plans to purchase more in the spring. He sells eggs and chickens, including to passersby.

“I give [the chickens] fresh water every day, feed them a pellet mix of grain, and clean their coop at least once a week,” Koester said. “Their waste goes into my compost and I use it in the garden. Keeping chickens is fairly easy and not too much work.” Koester lives in rural DeKalb County, where keeping chickens in your back yard is legal. However, if he lived six miles to north in the city of DeKalb, or four miles south in the village of Waterman, his chickens would be prohibited.

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For years, some have expressed interest in changing that. Most recently, a group of citizens has formed the group Backyard Chickens DeKalb and are drafting an ordinance seeking to change DeKalb city code to allow chickens.’ The current city code includes chickens on the list of prohibited animals. City Code Section 18.17 states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any horse, mule, sheep, goat, cattle, hogs or other domesticated animal or fowl, chickens, ducks, snakes over six feet in length, or other life-threatening reptiles, within the city.” Beekeeping is also banned in that section, as well as the keeping and caring of a long list of dangerous animals you might expect to see at a zoo – lions and tigers and bears included.

‘A matter of freedom’

Matt Anderson and his wife Brittany Schaefer of DeKalb helped form the Backyard Chickens DeKalb group. Half a year ago, when they bought a house in DeKalb, they started a garden. They said they were “unpleasantly surprised” to discover that they could not raise chickens within the city limits. “For us, it’s a matter of freedom and having a choice,” Anderson said. “We want to know where our food comes from. When you buy eggs from a store, you don’t know how the chickens are cared for or what antibiotics they’re given. I want to know that the chickens are not kept in tiny cages and are treated humanely.” The founders of Backyard Chickens DeKalb held a meeting Feb. 19 at

the DeKalb Public Library to discuss the proposed ordinance. Their draft ordinance would be for a three-year trial period, with a maximum of 20 licenses available for households and eight licenses for establishments such as churches. Annual licenses would cost a proposed fee of $25 and would permit the keeping of two to six chickens, but no roosters. Members of DeKalb’s Citizens’ Environmental Commission “will be responsible for the monitoring and recording the practices of the initial license-holders per adherence to the requirements of the ordinance.”

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According to the proposal, prior to the initial license being granted, applicants must notify the neighbors of their plan to raise chickens and a city code enforcement officer would inspect the coop. On Sept. 6, 2018, the draft ordinance change to approve backyard chickens in DeKalb was passed by the environmental commission, but the matter has not been brought to the City Council.

Some still resistant

William Oleckno, a member of the environmental commission for 10 years and professor emeritus in public health at Northern Illinois University, was the only commissioner opposed. He also voted against a similar ordinance proposal in 2011. At that time, the environmental commission discussed the idea but did not support it, and the city council dismissed the idea.

Oleckno said allowing chickens in the city has little upside but considerable drawbacks.

Dave Lehman of DeKalb also has concerns about allowing the raising of urban chickens.

“Since DeKalb is committed to protecting the health, safety and welfare of its residents, it seems that allowing a practice that could seriously jeopardize community health and safety, such as disease transmission, increased predator attraction, infestations with rodents, as well as chicken health, safety and welfare, due to predators, improper care or neglect, abandonment, etc., without significant benefits that sufficiently offset these risks would be a very foolish idea,” Oleckno said.

“I’m not a fan of thinking of having chickens as my new neighbors, and all the issues and problems they’d bring with them,” Lehman said. “There’s a distinction between living in the city and the country, and my initial reaction is of dismay. Chickens are different from cats and dogs, they are not pets. They are a part of production agriculture and a food source.”

“Each community needs to do their own due diligence in deciding on this issue. As for me, I favor facts over opinions and assumptions, and, in my mind, the facts support maintaining the current ban on raising chickens or other livestock in DeKalb.

University of Illinois Extension Poultry Specialist Ken Koelkebeck said that if people interested in owning chickens know what they’re doing, there are very few concerns. However, he does recommend thorough research before deciding to house chickens in your backyard and that proper rules and regulations must be in place. “Hens make little to no sound, they do defecate, but not any more than

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two or three dogs,” Koelkebeck said. “If you clean coops regularly, there is not much smell, and if you wash hands before and after feeding, cleaning or handling chickens and use disposable gloves, there will unlikely be any concerns, “I think it all boils down to common sense,” he said. “It all depends on the community, their preferences and the rules and regulations they want to go by.” Backyard Chickens DeKalb’s next steps for the proposed ordinance include collecting signatures of people who support the freedom to have backyard chickens. The group will then approach the DeKalb City Council, which has the final vote about the ordinance and changing the city code. The group can get the council’s initial thoughts and decide to either have the ordinance voted on or not. Concerned citizens looking for more information about the proposed ordinance can contact their alderman, the City of DeKalb at 815-748-2000 or the Backyard Chickens DeKalb group at

Chicken regulations locally

Locally, backyard chickens are prohibited in Sycamore, Cortland, Kingston, Kirkland, Malta and Waterman, but are allowed in Genoa and Shabbona. Aurora, Naperville, Downers Grove, St. Charles, Batavia and Chicago also allow backyard chickens. Genoa passed their first backyard chicken ordinance in 2011, Shabbona passed theirs in September. Genoa’s ordinances allow up to six hens and no roosters. Chickens can only be kept within side and rear yards at least 25 feet from any property line. Chickens can only be kept on property with a minimum of half an acre. Permits, costing $20, must be issued or renewed every year. There hasn’t been much demand lately. Alyssa Seguss, the management assistant with the city of Genoa, said only one permit allowing backyard chickens has been issued this year. “I think that it’s because of the requirements in the municipal code,

and not many homes meet the requirements,” Seguss said. “We haven’t gotten many permit requests, maybe two in the past five years. As far as I know, there haven’t been any problems or complaints. If there are, I’m sure we would revisit the ordinance.” Shabbona’s ordinance allows up to four hens and no roosters. Hens must have a covered inside enclosure and an outside fenced area between 32 and 150 square feet. The enclosure and fenced area must be in the rear of the property, set back at least 150 feet from all streets and 30 feet from any occupied residential structure on an adjacent property. There are also rules about cleanliness and noise. Shabbona’s interim village president Don Goncher said that the ordinance was created to set rules before any backyard chicken issues occurred. “No permits have been issued yet, but the ordinance is still very new,” Goncher said. “Also, a building inspect must first approve. Maybe people are waiting for some warmer weather first.” In Sycamore, Cortland and Waterman, where backyard chickens are not allowed, citizens have been interested in passing an ordinance. Waterman Village Trustee and Zoning Committee Chair Sarah Radtke was approached by a group of community members asking for an ordinance change. Radtke helped draft an ordinance and brought it to the city board for voting. It was voted down April 2018 with a vote of 2 to 3. After revisions were made to the ordinance, it was voted down a second time May 2018 with a vote of 3 to 2.

“I think that staff changes at the time were one of the reasons why it was voted down,” Radtke said. “I think it just fell victim to timing. I don’t want chickens myself, but I could justify the ordinance. I voted in favor of it and thought we met the concerns of the committee members. It was surprising that it was voted down twice. It’s crazy to think of an agricultural town being opposed to it.” In Cortland, chickens within the town limits have been prohibited since the mid-1960s. Cortland’s municipal code states that farm animals, including chickens, are not allowed in residential zoned areas. Cortland’s Zoning Administrator Anna Kurtzman said that there are about two complaints a year about residents owning chickens. “The rule has been in the books for decades in the zoning and nuisance section of the municipal code,” Kurtzman said. “To allow backyard chickens would require multiple ordinance changes. We don’t know if there’s enough interest in the topic to warrant a change at this time.”

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push back against beer ads By KATRINA J.E. MILTON

The more than 100 million people who watched Super Bowl LIII in February also saw the debut of an advertising campaign in which Anheuser-Busch InBev knocked competitors for using corn syrup.

tactics to inflame consumers’ fear of food, all because of the declining beer market sector. This definitely affects farmers. It puts our product into a bad light.”

One of the ads, a 60-second commercial by Anheuser-Busch InBev, still has people talking, especially farmers.

However, ads arguing about corn in beer are nothing new. Anheuser-Busch ran this 1893 ad: “Corn beer is a drinkable beer, but it is a cheap coarse beer … Of corn beer you can drink but little without a protest from the stomach, and the effect is a loss of energy, weariness, stupidity and drowsiness.”

In the ad, a giant barrel of corn syrup is mistakenly delivered to Bud Light’s castle, but Bud Light does not use corn syrup (although, ironically, other Budweiser beer brands do). The Bud Knight and others begin a quest to find the barrel’s owners. When they arrive at the Miller’s castle, a guard informs the group that they already have their shipment and says, “Try the Coors Light castle, they also use corn syrup.” The ads caused a rift among macro-brewers who had planned to cooperate in an attempt to boost beer sales. Brewers have seen beer’s share of the U.S. market decline from 56 to 46 percent in the past 20 years, while spirits and wine have made gains. The big brewers also have been hurt by competition from craft brewers, and have seen their volumes decrease by 25 percent in the past decade. Rival macro-brewers weren’t the only ones stung by the corn syrup story line. To farmer Paul Taylor of Esmond, past board member and past president of the Illinois Corn Growers’ Association, Bud Light’s beer ads were fighting words. “This is a marketing campaigned aimed at making people fear their food,” Taylor said. “This is a complicated subject because it’s not about making beer, it’s about selling beer. They’re using scare

What is corn syrup? Dr. John White, the president and founder of consulting company White Technical Research, describes the beer ad war as “a new twist on an old theme of companies trying to play off the fears of consumers.” White is one of the foremost experts on fructose, high fructose corn syrup and sucrose, the result of 38 years of research on the production, functionality, applications, consumption and metabolism of these sweeteners. He stressed that in order to properly frame the question, it’s important to distinguish corn syrup from high fructose corn syrup. Both are made from corn, with heat and acid and/ or enzymes used to split very long corn starch molecules into successively smaller and smaller chains. These chains are made up of glucose molecules, also called dextrose, bonded together. With only a few splitting actions, maltodextrins are formed.

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With more splitting, corn syrups are made. Complete splitting will liberate all the glucose that was formerly linked together in chains. There are dozens of corn syrups on the market, each differing from another by the lengths of the chains. By contrast, high fructose corn syrup is made by combining glucose and fructose molecules. Corn syrup is 40 to 60 percent as sweet as cane sugar, while high fructose corn syrup has about the same sweetness as cane sugar. Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup both are used in approximately the same amounts by the food and beverage industry, though for different purposes. Although nutrition scientists agreed for many years that high fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally equivalent, some consumers have been slow to let go of old feelings. It is this residual angst that AnheuserBusch played on in their Super Bowl ads, banking on consumers confusing corn syrup with its cousin. Peggy Marchini, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, said that Americans’ consumption of sugars, from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup, is concerning.

“Sugars can lead to dental cavities, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Marchini said. “Sugar is an empty nutrient calorie food. It’s important to know where your food comes from and stay away from sugar-sweetened drinks such as sports drink, sweetened iced tea, fruit drinks, chocolate milk and soda.” The American Heart Association recommends daily no more than six added teaspoons or 100 calories of sugar for women and no more than nine added teaspoons or 150 calories of sugar for men. Farmer Taylor stressed that the sweetener used in beer fermentation is not like mixing white granulated sugar into Kool-Aid. “The sugar feeds the yeast that ferments the grain,” Taylor said. “Of course we need to be careful about what we’re eating and putting into our bodies. My doctor recommends taking an aspirin a day, I wouldn’t start taking 100. People drown in water, but if you don’t drink it, you’ll be dehydrated.”

Syrups use in brewing In the early stages of beer production, the addition of carbohydrate is needed. Carbohydrates, in differing forms, must be added to beer for the

fermentation process. These carbohydrates, called adjuncts, commonly include rice syrup, corn syrup, rice starch, corn starch, rice flakes, corn flakes, rice grits or corn grits, but can also be sourced from wheat, oats and nearly any other starch source. Bud Light uses rice syrup as an adjunct. Other beers, including Miller Lite and Coors Light, use corn syrup. As barley, which is common to nearly all beers, germinates, it makes enzymes that are efficient at breaking polymers down into glucose. Yeast is then added. The yeast uses the glucose as food to grow and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. Beer, whiskey, wine, sake and honey-based mead also use a similar creation process. “I have to stress that it is corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup, that is being added during the fermentation process for the yeast to eat to create alcohol,” White said. “There is no residual corn syrup or rice syrup, whatever type of adjunct added, because the yeast converts the simple sugars they produce into alcohol and carbon dioxide.” White said that the type of adjunct used, as well as other ingredients, such as wheat, oats, malted barley and quinoa, makes a difference in the beer.

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“Adjuncts contribute to the texture, mouth feel and flavor,” he said “They are tools brewers use to make their beer, just like colors on the palette of an artist.”

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J.D. Heinrich, the owner of Forge Brewhouse, 216 N. Sixth St. in DeKalb, said that the beer companies’ corn syrup wars don’t affect him much. “It’s a bit comical because we’re all making a fermentable product,” Heinrich said. “It’s an ad campaign more than anything.”

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Heinrich said that he does not use corn syrup in his beers. About 99 percent of his beers are sweetened through converted starches from barley. To make a sweeter beer, he uses high temperature during the mash process to leave an unfermentable sugar in the beer. “Two degrees can make a lot of difference, it determines what kind of sugar molecules you’re going to end up with,” he said. “Occasionally we add cane sugar or candy syrup, but never corn syrup. Corn syrup is more for large production. Those companies make the amount of beer in 30 minutes what we make in one year.” Heinrich said that some breweries use corn as a grain in their beer for flavoring. “Really, it’s all about preference and recipes,” he said. “There’s an old saying: Brewers make the wort, yeast makes beer. Wort is the sugar water collected after the mash process. Beer and beermaking is all about sugar, whether it’s from the barley, cane sugar or corn syrup.”

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The December passage of the 2018 Farm Bill included a nationwide legalization of hemp cultivation, creating the potential for states to regulate cultivation of cannabis plants – and potentially creating a new option for a cash crop.

Industrial hemp plants are cannabis sativa plants that contain very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Industrial hemp plants must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, rendering them useless for recreational smoking but useful in creating not only industrial products such as rope, but also of service to a growing consumer demand for cannabidiol, or CBD oil. The federal authorization of hemp cultivation could once again make hemp a viable cash crop in Illinois. But first, the Illinois Department of Agriculture must complete its process for creating regulations governing the growing of hemp plants.

HEMP’S LOCAL HISTORY Hemp has been grown in the United States since the 1600s, when it was first used as an alternative to tobacco. It was a popular crop during the 1930s and 1940s, and during the WWII era, hemp fibers were used to produce needed materials such as clothing, parachutes, and rope. Local farmers harvested the plants regularly, and on such a scale that workers were sometimes sought to help. A 1944 ad in the Daily Chronicle called for men and women needed immediately to “help process a DeKalb County farm product into rope essentially needed by our army and navy.”

Although the crop had many uses, it became costprohibitive for widespread cultivation after the federal Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. In 1958, the last commercial hemp crop was harvested. Phillip Alberti, commercial agriculture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, said that hemp’s cultivation in Illinois has had “a great and important history.” “Up until 1958, hemp was grown around the nation,” Alberti said. “At one point, Illinois was one of the leading producers of the crop. The Midwest has had a huge history of growing hemp prior to the bill that was passed in the 1950s.”

INDUSTRIAL HEMP IN ILLINOIS Former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill on Aug. 26, 2018, legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state. The 2018 Farm Bill, which passed Dec. 11, 2018, legalized hemp production in all 50 states, but only if the state has production procedures in place. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA)’s drafted proposed rules for the regulation of industrial hemp production and processing were published Dec. 28, 2018. The the rules are between the first comment period, which ended Feb. 8, and the second comment period, which will last a minimum of 45 days.

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The agriculture department has been compiling all the comments collected during the first comment period and is responding to and addressing them collectively. Administrators are working on changes to the proposed rules based on those comments. Once the responses and proposed changes are made, they will be considered by lawmakers at a Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), committee hearing, beginning the second comment period. As as the rules are finalized and approved, the state will begin accepting applications for industrial hemp licenses and registrations. Registration for a three-year Industrial Hemp Cultivation License would cost $1,100, under the proposed rules. “The Illinois Department of Agriculture is doing everything we can so that farmers will be able to cultivate hemp this growing season,” Denise Albert, communications manager for the department, said. “That is our goal, but it is a very lengthy process. We do hope to have hemp in the ground this growing season.” Mariam Wassmann, director of information with the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, said with the finalization of the rules and regulations, she doesn’t expect farmers in DeKalb County to start until next year. “There’s a lot of investment, equipment and market security that has to be worked out before farmers choose to grow it,” she said.

STRICTLY-GOVERNED GROWING Like any other crop grown in Illinois, farmers with an Industrial Hemp Cultivation License will be subject to state regulations. The rules would permit cultivation of hemp both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor plots must be at lease a quarter acre; indoor plots must be at least 500 square feet. Those who apply for a license to grow hemp would be subject to criminal background checks. Anyone convicted of a felony or drug-related misdemeanor in the past five years would be disqualified. All industrial hemp plants are subject to sampling and testing to verify that the delta-9 THC concentration does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. If fields are “testing hot,” or above the 0.3 percent THC concentration, the crop has to be destroyed. The proposed rules also call for at least one inspection per year, with fines of up to $10,000 for each violation.

GROWING INDUSTRIAL HEMP The legalization of industrial hemp will allow two different cultivations: one of the plant’s grain and fiber, the other for cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is becoming a popular addition to various foods and beverages, as well as directly ingested by placing a few drops under the tongue. Some tout CBD oil, which is not psychoactive, as being a helpful remedy for all manner of conditions, from pain and anxiety to acne. Phillip Alberti said that harvesting industrial hemp is similar to the cutting and baling of alfalfa hay. “When you harvest the grain, the combine will cut and remove the plants’ seeds,” Alberti said. “Farmers will then cut and dry the plant out in the field. Research is being done in the Midwest on how best to harvest the crop. Harvesting the grain and fiber is a challenge farmers will have to learn.” Harvesting CBD oil requires a different. The oil is derived only from female plants – the male plants must be removed before pollination occurs and seeds are produced. Once the crop matures, it is dried and taken to a processing facility, where the oil is extracted from the flower buds. There are different extraction techniques for the level of the oil’s purity. There are currently no processing facilities in Illinois. “It’s going to be interesting to see how hemp will fit into the corn and soybean rotation,” Alberti said. “It will give the soil a break from disease and pest cycles, but there are no approved pesticide and herbicide applications yet for the crop. There’s still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the crop’s planting, cultivation, harvesting and selling.”

THE PLANT’S POTENTIAL The Hemp Business Journal estimated that the CBD market will grow to a $2.1 billion market in consumer sales by 2020 with $450 million of those sales coming from hemp-based sources. That growth is a 700 percent increase from 2016. “There’s still so much we don’t know, but there’s so much potential,” Alberti said. “At the moment, there is a lot of confusion about industrial hemp and its relation to marijuana. Hemp isn’t a new crop, but it’s new for modern farmers. It’s an opportunity to grow something new and have new profits. “Many farmers are seeing dollar signs. I think there’s a lot of research still to be done, but farmers are definitely excited about hemp’s potential.”

MIDDLE PHOTO Cannabis plants: An irrigated hemp field in Colorado is shown. The federal government in 2018 legalized cultivation of industrial hemp, but before it can be grown in fields, it must be regulated and licensed by individual state agencies. BOTTOM PHOTO Rope: Fibers from the hemp plant long have been used to make strong rope. The demand for rope by the U.S. Navy during World War II led to widespread cultivation of the plant, including in DeKalb County.

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Airport ag under glass DeKalb Taylor administrators look to replace traditional crops with glasshouses


DeKALB – When Don Halverson is farming and crossing fields, he has to make sure to look both ways – on the ground and in the air. Halverson, his father and hired help farm 350 acres of ground owned by the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, 3232 Pleasant St. in DeKalb. “Farming at the airport is not much different from farming any other fields, except the fields aren’t always square and you have more airplanes flying overhead,” Halverson said. “However, safety is heavily stressed. I can’t just cross runways and taxiways like I would a road.” Halverson said another difference is that fungicide and insecticide are sprayed with self-propelled boom sprayers, rather than aerial applications. Halverson also said he tends not to farm in the evenings so that the bright lights on his farm equipment will not distract pilots coming in to land. Although traditional outdoor ag has been done on airport property for years, a new strategic plan for the airport envisions a new form of agriculture there. The proposition is not under wraps – it’s under glass: greenhouse glass.

In a report finalized in May 2018, consultants for Voltaire Aviation, which manages the airport for the city of DeKalb, recommended nine key strategies to grow the airport, along with a branding and marketing campaign. The strategic goal is to focus on the airport being viewed as both a business and a community service asset. One of the nine points was greenhouse development. The plan calls for the airport to work with community partners to pursue recruitment of greenhouse business or consider hiring an outside property management firm for the project. Greenhouse ag is considered a better fit for the area for a couple of reasons. With the crops under glass, flocks of birds will not be attracted to the area to feed. For another, produce grown in greenhouses is more perishable and high-value than commodity crops. Any produce that could not be immediately sold locally would have easy access to air transport and Interstate 88, allowing growers to get it to far-away markets quickly. The proposed greenhouse business would be similar to greenhouses used by Richardson Brothers Greenhouses

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in Saint Elmo; N.G. Heimos Greenhouses, Inc. in Millstadt, and MightyVine in Rochelle. The closest large-scale greenhouse is MightyVine’s 15-acre glasshouse in Rochelle. Their greenhouse is nearly 30 feet high and uses diffused glass and radiated heat to produce tomatoes year-round. The MightyVine facility is estimated to have cost roughly $20 million dollars at the outset. Using the estimate of $20 million for a 15-acre greenhouse site for initial costs, the fee comes to $1.3 million per acre. While the airport would not be responsible for the cost of the development and building of the greenhouse, it should consider developing an incentive program to help a company offset the cost of development, the consultant report recommended. A greenhouse business would also increase hangar rentals, fuel sales and reduce hazardous wildlife around the airport. DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport Manager Tom Cleveland said the plan for a greenhouse was a way to improve the airport by generating more revenue.

lots that could be utilized for development.

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“Airports around the country make a lot of money and business with greenhouses,” Cleveland said. “This is one way to make the airport more self-sufficient and a greater asset to the community.” Cleveland also mentioned a concern pilots might have: glare from the greenhouse glass as they land. “There have been a lot of glare studies, and the new, modern greenhouse panels have very little reflection,” he said. “It’s like looking at the reflection in a calm lake. Really, there are very few concerns or issues. I think [the addition of a greenhouse business] would be great benefit to the airport and agriculture in DeKalb County.”

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Halverson also thinks that the greenhouse is a good idea. “Although I’m not in the greenhouse business, I see nothing wrong with it,” he said. “Planting crops or having a greenhouse is much better than mowing grass. Crops help with lowering the noise from the airplanes and is a form of profit. It’s a way to have a positive return on their investment.”

Cleveland said that the airport has different sized


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DEKALB® proudly salutes the ILLINOIS WINNERS in the NCGA 2018 National Corn Yield Contest. NATIONAL WINNER


JERRY REINHART 2nd Place: 345.6367 Bu/A AA Non-Irrigated DKC64-34RIB Brand Blend

PHILLIP FRIEDRICH 1st Place: 313.1814 Bu/A Irrigated DKC64-35 Brand

CHUCK WALSH 2nd Place: 323.2441 Bu/A AA Non-Irrigated DKC63-21RIB Brand Blend

JERRY REINHART 1st Place: 345.6367 Bu/A AA Non-Irrigated DKC64-34RIB Brand Blend

ROGER HENDRIX 3rd Place: 320.1699 Bu/A AA Non-Irrigated DKC64-34RIB Brand Blend

RANDY HAARS 2nd Place: 315.5371 Bu/A AA No-Till/Strip-Till Non-Irrigated DKC64-34RIB Brand Blend

TRAVIS MICHL 3rd Place: 302.7104 Bu/A AA No-Till/Strip-Till Non-Irrigated DKC64-34RIB Brand Blend

THAT’S CONFIDENCE. THAT’S DEKALB. GROW BOLDLY. Performance may vary, from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields. Always read and follow IRM, where applicable, grain marketing and all other stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. DEKALB and Design® and DEKALB® are registered trademarks of Bayer Group. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2019 Bayer Group. All Rights Reserved.

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