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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Building Extension 3.0


Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of ACES - University of Illinois

Extension personnel facilitate the translation of many of the fantastic discoveries made at land-grant universities to people around the world. Oftentimes, this is the only way that this valuable information reaches people so they can make good decisions that improve the qualities of their lives. Kim Kidwell, Dean of the University of Illinois College of ACES, believes Extension embodies the essence of the land-grant mission because this is where transformation happens. She discusses, with Todd Gleason, how the future of Extension in the state of Illinois can provide the basis through which the discovery process can continue to help change people’s lives.

Read more from College of ACES Dean Kim Kidwell’s blog post here.

Building Extension 3.0

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Building Extension 3.0
Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of ACES - University of Illinois

Extension personnel facilitate the translation of many of the fantastic discoveries made at land-grant universities to people around the world. Oftentimes, this is the only way that this valuable information reaches people so they can make good decisions that improve the qualities of their lives. Kim Kidwell, Dean of the University of Illinois College of ACES, believes Extension embodies the essence of the land-grant mission because this is where transformation happens. She discusses, with Todd Gleason, how the future of Extension in the state of Illinois can provide the basis through which the discovery process can continue to help change people’s lives.

Read more from College of ACES Dean Kim Kidwell’s blog post here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Grain Stocks Soybean Report should be Uneventful

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Grain Stocks Soybean Report should be Uneventful
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois
read full farmdocDaily article

USDA, at the end of this month, will let us know how much of the nation’s soybean crop there is left in the bin. Todd Gleason reports it “should” be a fairly uneventful number.

Generally, Todd Hubbs says it is pretty…
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Generally, Todd Hubbs says it is pretty easy to figure out how many soybeans have been consumed. There is a regular reporting system for how many bushels are exported and one for how many are crushed. That second report, the crush, calculates how many soybeans are crushed in the United States into its two components. These are soybean meal and soybean oil. Hubbs, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, says the reports make it easy enough to calculate disappearance, consumption, usage, whatever you want to call, and consequently come up with a number that approximates how many bushels are left to use.

Hubbs :22 ….soybeans stocks number this year.

Quote Summary - I worked through some data and I’m saying about 1.6 billion bushels for the March 1 stocks for soybeans, barring some surprise in the seed, feed, and residual number. Still, that is such a small component of soybean use that I don’t think there will be a lot of surprising information in the March 1st soybeans stocks number this year.

Again, Hubbs, March 1 grain stocks figure for soybeans is 1.68 billion bushels. Here’s the math he used to get there.

Hubbs :42 …are going to have to consume about 1.23 billion bushels.

Quote Summary - Exports for the first quarter were 932 million bushels. For the second quarter, I have them pegged at about 721 million bushels. I have the second quarter crush at 491 million bushels. This brings the total crush for the first half of the marketing year to 976 million bushels. We’ve been crushing a really good rate, but we have a lot of soybeans. So, with USDA raising ending stocks to 435 million, if that number holds and we don’t drive those numbers down, and if the March 1 stocks number is 1.68 billion, it means the last half of the marketing year we are going to have to consume about 1.23 billion bushels.

Hubbs thinks that is a reasonable number. It depends, though, he says mostly on what happens in the export market through August.

Anticipating the March 1 Soybean Stocks Estimate | an interview with Todd Hubbs

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Anticipating the March 1 Soybean Stocks Estimate | an interview with Todd Hubbs
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

by Todd Hubbs
read full farmdocDaily article

On March 31, the USDA will release the quarterly Grain Stocks report, with estimates of crop inventories as of March 1, and the annual Prospective Plantings report. For soybeans, the stocks estimate is typically overshadowed by the estimate of planting intentions. Usually, the quarterly stocks estimates for corn garners more interest because these reports reveal the pace of feed and residual use which is a large component of total corn consumption. The March 1 soybean stocks estimate this year may not provide much new information despite recent growth in marketing year ending stocks and concerns about the size of the South American crop… continue reading the full article by clicking here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

On the Value of Ethanol in the Gasoline Blend

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On the Value of Ethanol in the Gasoline Blend
Scott Irwin, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

Read farmdocDaily Article

There has been much debate and much written about the likely costs and benefits of including ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply. Costs and benefits fall into two major categories–environmental and economic (e.g., Stock, 2015). One economic consideration is the potential impact on domestic gasoline prices from augmenting the gasoline supply with biofuels. A second economic consideration, and one that has received the most attention, is the cost of ethanol relative to petroleum-based fuel. What has been missing from the analysis of the value of ethanol in the gasoline blend is an estimate of the net value of ethanol based on: i) an energy penalty relative to gasoline; and ii) an octane premium based on the lower price of ethanol relative to petroleum sources of octane.

This farmdocDaily article provides an analysis of that net value since January 2007.

Spring Lawn Care | How to Sow Grass Seed

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Spring Lawn Care | How to Sow Grass Seed
John Fulton, Extension County Director - University of Illinois

If you live in central Illinois you have a choice to make today. You can either decide to control the crabgrass in your lawn, or you can try to fix the dead or thin areas. Todd Gleason has more on the how-to..

Spring is about a month earlier than usual this year…
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Spring is about a month earlier than usual this year across a large part of the eastern United States. It definitely means now is the time to start doing some pre-season lawn care says University of Illinois Extension’s John Fulton. He’s in central Illinois where the time has come to control crabgrass or sow seed. He says you can’t do both, at least not in the same spot.

Fulton :16 …kill your germinating grass seeds.

Quote Summary - You want to either seed new grass or control crabgrass. You can’t do both in the same season. That’s number one because the same products that will kill germinating crabgrass seeds will kill your germinating grass seeds.

As for seeding grass, Fulton says, March 15 to April 1 is the recommended spring period in central Illinois. It’s a very narrow window, but with purpose. New grass seed needs time to germinate and develop a strong root system before hot weather arrives. The right type of seed to use varies. Sunny locations do well with Kentucky bluegrass, while shaded areas tend to do better, he says, with red or chewings fescue. Perennial ryegrass provides quicker germination and cover.

Fulton :37 …we get that really hot weather during the summer.

Quote Summary - Most common, anymore, are blends. These are either two-way or three-way blends including Kentucky bluegrass which thrives in your sunny areas, one of the fine fescues - either red or chewings - which thrive in dry but shaded areas under your tress and along borders, and then a lot of them will have a perennial rye grass in them for a quick green up. Most people don’t realize Kentucky bluegrass can take up to four weeks to even germinate. So, that’s why it is so critical to get it germinated and the root system established before we get that really hot weather during the summer.

Grass seed blends help with environmental conditions, diseases, and insects. When one type struggles, the others can tolerate and help fill in areas in the lawn. The recommended seeding rates are four pounds per 1000 square feet in new seedings, and two pounds per 1000 in overseeding existing turf to thicken it up or help fill small bare areas.

Spring Lawn Maintenance and Seeding

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Spring Lawn Maintenance and Seeding
John Fulton, Extension County Director - University of Illinois

link to blog article

by John Fulton, University of Illinois Extension

Here we are in the first half of March, and the forsythia is in bloom. This marks the beginning of the crabgrass germination. It is an entire month early, when compared to average. Applications of crabgrass preventers are usually repeated in four to six weeks, but two repeated applications may be suggested this year due to the very early season.

Use of a crabgrass preventer is very effective, and the most common way to attack the problem. There are a few products out there, and they are often combined with fertilizer. They all basically kill small seeds as they germinate. They will also do the same with grass seed you have sown, so the two operations do not work together. If you sow seed, you live with the crabgrass for the year. Timing is critical for crabgrass control, and we may have already missed the first flush of germinating seed due to the very early season. Unless, the young seedlings get frozen.

As for seeding grass, March 15 to April 1 is the recommended spring period in our area. It’s a very narrow window, but with purpose. New grass seed needs time to germinate and develop a strong root system before hot weather arrives. The right type of seed to use varies. Sunny locations do well with Kentucky bluegrass, while shaded areas tend to do better with red or chewings fescue. Perennial ryegrass provides quicker germination and cover. Blending all three is a recommended practice, and you can even purchase blends already made up. The blends help with conditions, diseases, and insects. When one type struggles, the others can tolerate and help fill in areas in the lawn. The recommended seeding rates are four pounds per 1000 square feet in new seedings, and two pounds per 1000 in overseeding existing turf to thicken it up or help fill small bare areas.

Starting Transplants

Starting your own transplants can still be done for the warm loving plants such as tomatoes and peppers. We usually figure about six weeks from the transplant date for starting the seeds. The recommended outdoor transplanting time for these is going to be in May, after the frost-free date. You should use a sterile growing medium to start seeds in. There are several kinds of soilless germinating mixes, potting soils, peat cubes, and compressed peat pellets that are available. These media are generally free from insects, diseases, and weeds. Enough fertilizer is generally present in these to allow for three or four weeks of plant growth.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Even if Brazil has Big Corn Crop, US Still King

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Even if Brazil has Big Corn Crop, US Still King
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

This month USDA predicted Brazilian farmers would raise a record sized corn crop. Even if they do, as Todd Gleason reports because the United States is far and away the biggest player on the world stage, one agricultural economist sees demand holding the price of corn steady.

Last fall U.S. farmers harvested a 15.1 billion…
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Last fall U.S. farmers harvested a 15.1 billion bushel corn crop. By comparison, Brazilian producers will take in 3.6 billion bushels this year. At least that’s what USDA is predicting at the moment. Much of that crop has just been planted and there is a great deal weather between now and harvest time, three months from now, says Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois Agricultural Economist.

Hubbs :33 …lowered feed and residual use for old crop corn.

Quote Summary - Just like with any weather-related crop, the possibility is there for a bad crop year. I feel like that number could turn out. It really could. Even if it does, we are still the major corn producer in the world and lot of what is going to domestically does support corn prices moving forward. We’ve seen really strong corn use for ethanol. USDA raised that number another 10 million bushels. However, on the flip-side, they once again lowered feed and residual use for old crop corn.

The result of the changes to the U.S. corn balance sheet was a wash. Meaning there wasn’t a change in how much corn will be left over at the end of this marketing year. Still U of I’s Hubbs, despite two big corn crops, thinks there is hope.

Hubbs :05 …feels pretty strong in corn right now.

Quote Summary - I feel like the domestic market feels pretty strong in corn right now.

We’ll no more about how much underpinning strength there might be in the corn market March 31. USDA releases two reports that day. One will estimate how much corn has been used to feed livestock in the nation, and the other surveys how many acres of corn, and other crops, U.S. farmers expect to plant this year.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Brazil to Raise 3.6 Billion Bushels of Corn

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Brazil to Raise 3.6 Billion Bushels of Corn
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

The United States Department of Agriculture has a put a pretty big number on the Brazilian corn crop. Todd Gleason reports it may be too big too soon.

USDA, in it’s monthly supply and demand…
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USDA, in it’s monthly supply and demand report for March, made special note of the corn crop in Brazil. This is because the agency dramatically increased the amount of corn the South American nation is expected to raise this year. It says, quote, “Brazil corn production is raised on increases to both projected area and yield. Reported first crop yields have been record high, while the rapid planting progress of second crop corn in the Center-West boosts expected area and yield prospects, allowing for greater crop development prior to the normal end of the rainy season” end quote. University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Todd Hubbs thinks the World Agriculture Outlook Board - the part of USDA that developed the numbers - may be getting ahead of itself.

Hubbs :38 …from a forgone conclusion in the corn crop.

Quote Summary - The USDA raised Brazilian corn production to 3.6 billion bushels. When you look into the world production numbers they raised acreage a little bit, but it was yield that generated a lot of this number. I understand there need to do that if they think this crop is coming on, but the safrina crop, that second crop of corn, there is a lot of weather risk involved in that corn crop. It is just in the ground. The idea that all those bushels are going to show up is far from a forgone conclusion in the corn crop.

It if does show up, Hubbs says that’s a lot of corn coming out of Brazil. However, he’s in a wait and see pattern. Hubbs, along with Illinois ag economists Scott Irwin and Darrel Good have been looking into the yearly variability of crops come out of South America. Their research is posted to the farmdocDaily website. He says it points to a great bit of downside and upside risk in Brazil’s second crop corn.

Nutrition and Kidney Stones

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Nutrition and Kidney Stones
Lisa Peterson, Nutrition and Wellness Educator - University of Illinois Extension

see blog post

It’s National Kidney month. Up next University of Illinois Extension’s Todd Gleason has some ways to avoid kidney stones.

About a half a million Americans will go…
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About a half a million Americans will go to the emergency room this year doubled over in pain only to find out there’s not much to do except wait for the kidney stone to pass.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, kidney stones are hard, pebble-like, mineral deposits that form in one or both kidneys. Stones vary in size, shape, and composition. Some kidney stones are as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a pea. Kidney stones form when urine becomes highly concentrated allowing minerals to stick together forming the stones. Because of the variation in size and shape of stones, some kidney stones move through the urinary tract with little to no discomfort. Larger kidney stones can block urine flow in the kidneys, ureter, bladder, or urethra causing severe pain and may require surgery. Typically, kidney stones do not cause long-term damage. There are few things you can do to avoid kidney stones says University of Illinois Nutrition and Wellness Educator Lisa Peterson. Drinking more water is a good start.

Peterson :30 …slowly get a little more fluids in your body.

Quote Summary - The recommendation is about 3 to 4 liters of fluid which seems like alot. That’s 12 to 16 cups of fluids per day. It should mainly be water, but it does count juice and coffee. I tell people to go slowly into it. They say 12 to 16, so maybe aim for 8 and work your way up and slowly get a little more fluids in your body.

So, drink more water. You should also reduce your salt or sodium intake. The more sodium consumed the higher the risk of kidney stones. A high sodium diet increases the amount of calcium in urine.

Next, watch the oxalates.

Peterson :34 …watch how much them you are eating.

Quote Summary - Nuts, peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, chocolate, okra, sweet chard, tea, soy products, and wheat bran are specifically high in oxalates. This does not mean completely cut out these healthy foods if you suffer from the common calcium oxalate kidney stones, but cutting down on consumption of foods high in oxalates or try combining them with food high in calcium. Watch how much them you are eating.

Research finds consuming high calcium foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt with high oxalate foods helps the oxalates and calcium bind in the stomach and intestines before reaching the kidneys, making the formation of stones less likely.

You might just look to embrace the DASH Diet: Studies have found those who embrace the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet have a reduced risk for kidney stones. The DASH diet, endorsed by the American Heart Association, is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in animal protein and fat.