Originally Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013, 11:18 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2013, 11:22 pm

22nd annual farm equipment show brings out crowds to Expo Center

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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Liam Welty, 2, of Davenport, checks out his reflection in the wheel of a semi truck while his grandfather, Bob Schmidt, of Davenport, takes a picture at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island on Sunday. The show continues today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free.

ROCK ISLAND -- Larry and Lee Butts stopped farming corn and soybeans more than 20 years ago on their 217-acre family farm in Rock Falls.

But the brothers' love of the land and agriculture brought them to the 22nd annual Quad Cities Farm Equipment Show on Sunday at the QCCA Expo Center. The show continues today and Tuesday

"I'm still interested in it," said Lee, who works as a greeter at Walmart in Sterling. "We go to farm shows in DeKalb, and we have a show in Sterling. This one is bigger. We're just looking at stuff. I like to keep up."

"I'm looking for wood burners, landscaping equipment," said Larry Butts, who works at the Hormel meatpacking plant in Rochelle.

No matter what farm equipment or supplies you're looking for, they likely will be at the huge Q-C farm show, which event organizers predicted could be the biggest in its history. There are more than 200 exhibitors, offering everything from corn heads, combine harvesters and farming computer and GPS systems, to seeding systems, tractors and cattle-handling equipment.

One of the most eye-catching pieces is a shiny red Case IH 6130 combine harvester. At 12.5 feet tall and weighing 32,000 pounds, it was popular with kids who climbed into its cab on Sunday.

Izzy Mallery, 10, and her sister, Anna, 9, of Malden, did just that, with their mother, Kim, snapping a photo to preserve the memory.

"I'm scared of heights," Izzy said after she climbed down. "I'm used to it," Anna said.

Ms. Mallery grew up on her family's corn and soybean farm outside Princeton and used to come to the free farm show years ago. This was the first time she brought her own kids.

The show attracted many families with small children, and men and women of all ages.

Duane Abrahamson, of Orion, who helps his father, Jerry, at the family's 220-acre corn and soybean farm, said he likes to browse at the show every year. He was with his father and son, Jacob, on Sunday.

"It's a nice variety," he said. "Admission is the right cost. It seems like it's got a little bit of everything. If you're interested in livestock, they've got that."

Even with last year's drought (the worst in decades), their farm was fortunate, mainly because of the use ofgenetically modified corn, which can better withstand dry conditions, Duane said.

"It was better than we thought it was going to be," he said, adding their corn production was about 20 percent off a typical year. "It costs more but it's worth more, I guess. With the weather we had, amount of moisture we had, we did a lot better than we thought we would."

"Even with the drought last year, farm income remains very high, and attendance and buying at all of the farm shows has exceeded past years," event manager Richard Sherman said before the show. "People from this year's show will see what is undoubtedly the best product show in our history."

The largest displays again are from Case IH, New Holland by Kunau Implement, a large Agco display, the Blu-Jet display by Brokaw Supply and Tim Rogers Repair, the Salford display by Dambman Service and the John Deere display by River Valley Turf of Davenport.

There also are displays by Martin Equipment, Illini Sprayers and Fertilizer Dealer Supply, Vern's Farm Systems, Yarger Machinery Sales, Wingfield Manufacturing, VandeVoorde, Z & J Equipment, Hardi Midwest, Calmer Corn Heads, FS Grain Systems, Friedman Distributing and Correct Truck and Trailer.

"I think we have good short-line representation," Mr. Sherman said. "There's a very good mix of products, including long line, seeds, chemicals, supplies, technology, crop insurance, stoves and financial services. Area farmers are going to see a very good show."

Because demand remained strong and corn prices high — above $7 per bushel for much of the summer and fall — the 2012 crop was the most valuable ever produced, with a value of about $85 billion, according to an agriculture economist at Iowa State University.

The harvest was the eighth largest in U.S. history, a reflection of a big increase in recent years in the number of acres planted and crop technology that has improved plants' ability to withstand drought. Illinois corn production plunged 34 percent last year with the drought.

Eric Huber, region manager for Precision Planting in Tremont, near Bloomington, said his company's technological solutions to improve seeding and planting help deal with adverse weather.

"What we're focusing on is the details of planting," he said of controlling seed spacing, germination and depth. "Our slogan is 'The yield is in the details,'" to improve production results.

"We're all about controlling the things we can control to set our highest potential," Mr. Huber said. "The better job that I do in managing how that seed is positioned will help me improve in an adverse situation."

The average temperature in the contiguous U.S. last year was the warmest on record, including the second-hottest summer ever. That helped the bottom line forAlton Irrigation in Rock Falls, which provides irrigation equipment to farmers.

"We've seen a lot of demand for our products,"co-owner Richard Alton said, noting he saw twice as much business last year compared to the previous year. The last year that the weather was comparable was 1988, he said."It was very dry."

If you go

-- What: Quad Cities Farm Equipment Show
-- When: Today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday.
-- Where: QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Ave., Rock Island.
-- Admission: Free. For more information, visit quadcitiesfarmshow.com.