WALNUT, Ill. — The year 1949 is best known in U.S.
agriculture for the Agricultural Act of 1949, a precursor to today’s farm bill
that included language about marketing quotas and price supports.
For Bureau County farmer Kevin Larkey, 1949 is the year of
the oldest cornpicker in his collection. It’s two-row Oliver and painted the
familiar Oliver green.
“It could probably pick five to seven acres in a good day
with this,” Larkey said of the machine, lined up with the other vintage
cornpickers in his collection.
Larkey farms the John Bolz farm in rural Walnut, and that
farm and Larkey will host the biannual Cornpickers Reunion this year.
“We’ll have up to 60 cornpickers, and we’re expecting around
2,000 people during the two days,” Larkey said.
He’s received interest from vintage cornpicker and farm
equipment enthusiasts and collectors from all over the Midwest.
The reunion is conducted every two years. The corn plot that
the pickers will harvest is planted similarly to check-row planted corn to
accommodate the older harvesters.
The plot this year is a mix of old and new. The 80 acres was
planted May 5.
“We have four different varieties of non-GMO corn, including
white corn, supplied by Prairie Hybrids. They heard about the cornpicker reunion
and wanted to get involved,” Larkey said.
On this day, Craig Woodley of Woodley Aerial Services in
Walnut might have been channeling Gen. Chuck Yeager, who was in the midst of his
record-setting aviation career when Larkey’s cornpicker was built.
Woodley swooped, dove, climbed and circled in maneuvers
worthy of a wartime ace. The ammunition he carried was a modern weapon in the
fight against crop disease — BASF’s Headline Amp fungicide.
Woodley flew down the rows of the 80 acres of non-GMO corn,
spraying it to insure a healthy crop and a bountiful harvest for the
The event will be held on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18 at the farm.
Greg Peterson, the oldest of the three Peterson Farm
Brothers, from Assaria, Kan., is scheduled to appear both days at the reunion.
The Walnut Rotary Club will have food available on the grounds both days.