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Friday, April 28, 2017

Autism Resources at the University of Illinois

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Autism Resources at the University of Illinois
Susan Sloop, Extension Family Life Educator - University of Illinois

Learn more about autism and the resources available at the University of Illinois with U of I Extension’s Susan Sloop.

theautismprogram.org

How to Make a Compost Pile | with Duane Friend

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How to Make a Compost Pile | with Duane Friend
Duane Friend, Extension Environmental Stewardship - University of Illinois

Composting can be a great way to eliminate yard and garden waste along with some table scraps. It is easy to create a home compost pile.

directions on the web

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Black Cutworm Moth Flights & Projected Cutting Dates

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Black Cutworm Moth Flights & Projected Cutting Dates
Kelly Estes, Entomologist - Illinois Natural History Survey
University of Illinois Crop Sciences Field Crops Pest Guide

Farmers across Illinois will soon need to scout their cornfields for the black cutworm. Todd Gleason has more on the pest and projected cutting dates.

Black cutworm moths ride the southerly winds…
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Black cutworm moths ride the southerly winds into the state of Illinois and then lay their eggs in cornfields. The hatched larvae then feed on the stem of seedling corn plants. The eat all the way through it, cutting it off. That’s why it is important to monitor black cutworm moth flights into the state using traps says entomologist Kelly Estes from the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Kelly Estes :22 …cut those plants like you described earlier.

We’ve had reports of significant moth flights, which is more than eight moths (captured) over the course of a two-day span. We use this to set a biofix. From this bio-fix, we can use degree days to predict when black cutworm larvae will be in an area and large enough to cut those plants like you described earlier.

One cutworm can feed on as many as four corn plants - up to 15 inches in height - over its lifetime. They feed at night and burrow into the ground during the daylight hours. Conditions that favor black cutworm outbreaks include later tillage and planting dates, reduced or no-till fields, and or fields were large weed populations exist or were controlled late.

Damage is likely to occur when weed hosts are destroyed and larvae begin feeding on corn. Small larvae feed on plant leaves. Early cutworm feeding can be identified as small irregular holes in the leaves of corn plants. The larvae feed above ground for about the first quarter of their lives, or until they are approximately half an inch long.

Estes is now projected the earliest cutworm feeding will start May 9th in Madison County. That’s near St. Louis. Her projections move north from there with the passage of time.

Estes :37 …we expect to see larvae present.

Say, like, I–72 across with projected dates from May 11th through the 15th and then as we progress into northern counties, like Warren or Grundy and even as far north as Lee County, with projected cutting dates from May 17th through May 21st. So, as we see delayed planting in several areas across the state, we could potentially have small corn in those areas right about the time we expect to see larvae present.

Illinois farmers should begin to scout corn fields for black cutworm larvae now. They’ll need to scout five locations in each field, looking at about 250 plants total. The cutworm is black to gray and about an inch and half long when fully grown and looks a little greasy. A post-emergence rescue treatment is needed when 3% of the plants are cut, and larvae are still present.

Tracking Black Cut Worm Moth Flights in Illinois | with Kelly Estes

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Tracking Black Cut Worm Moth Flights in Illinois | with Kelly Estes
Kelly Estes, Entomologist - Illinois Natural History Survey

Todd Gleason talks with Illinois Natural History Survey Entomologist Kelly Estes about insect pests of corn in the state.





Friday, April 21, 2017

Evaluating Barley Yellow Dwarf Resistance in Oats

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Evaluating Barley Yellow Dwarf Resistance in Oats
Fred Kolb, Crop Scientist - University of Illinois

Doing research on crops can be tedious. It also ensures diseases and pests won’t over take them. Todd Gleason has more…

Fred Kolb heads up the small grains breeding…
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Fred Kolb heads up the small grains breeding program at the University of Illinois. He and his crew were out working on the south farms last week (Wednesday, April 18). They swing specialized tubes to deliver a little corn meal and an Aphid that carries Barley Yellow Dwarf disease. The aphid, says Kolb, infects the oats.

Kolb :43 …several in the U.S. and several in Canada.

Quote Summary - We are inoculating these oats with Barley Yellow Dwarf virus. And in order to that we rear aphids in the greenhouse, the aphids carry the virus, and then we put the aphids on the hills, and they infect the plants with the virus. We can then evaluate all these different genotypes for resistance to Barley Yellow Dwarf virus. We have material here from my breeding program, but we are also evaluating material from most to the other breeding programs in North America; several in the U.S. and several in Canada.

Kolb says about a week after the aphids are released, he and his team come back to eradicate them. Fred Kolb is a crop scientist at the University of Illinois.

Cattle | Increase Conception Rates after Lush Spring Turnout

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Cattle | Increase Conception Rates after Lush Spring Turnout
Travis Meteer, Extension Beef Educator - University of Illinois
Dan Shike, Animal Scientist - University of Illinois

During the winter most cattle are supplemented with dry forages, grains, and co-products. This ration is balanced and delivered to cattle. Then spring comes along and cattle are put out to grass. While green grass solves a lot of problems associated with winter feeding (manure, pen maintenance, calf health, and labor demands), it can, as Todd Gleason reports, pose nutritional challenges especially for newly bred cows.

That lush green grass forage has three major…
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That lush green grass forage has three major challenges when it comes to meeting cattle nutrition requirements.
  • it can lack enough dry matter
  • it is high in protein, but the excess can become a problem without the dry matter
  • and it is low in fiber
The beef cattle specialists at the University of Illinois wondered if this combination of problems has taken a hand in some of the lower artificial insemination conception rates they’ve seen in one of the three campus herds. A herd Animal Scientist Dan Shike says is very well managed, always in good condition, and thought be, well, right.
Shike :36 …turnout to spring grass coincided with our time of breeding.
Quote Summary - And yet, we were seeing our lowest A.I. conception rates. This happened a few years in a row. We thought we were doing ok on some the first traditional things you would look at. Then we decided we should consider the nutrition after breeding. We realized, with this particular herd, our turnout to spring grass coincided with our time of breeding. We started to point a finger there to see if that is where our concerns maybe were.
Shike, and Extension Beef Educator Travis Meteer set up an experiment to find out. Low dry matter and excess protein has been well documented by the dairy industry as a detriment to reproductive performance. The two wanted to know if a supplemental dry matter feed stock would make a difference. It did.
Shike :39 …the non-supplemented cows were pregnant to A.I.
Quote Summary - We had two treatments. Our control group was grazing pasture. The other group was grazing and fed four pounds of a mix. We started about ten days prior to breeding and turnout and carried it through for about six weeks after breeding. We looked at their bodyweight and body condition, but were ultimately interested in the first service A.I. conception rate. We did a synchronized timed A.I. At the first pregnancy check about 58% of the supplemented cows were pregnant to A.I. and 46% of the non-supplemented cows were pregnant to A.I.
A twelve percent increase is significant. However, Shike cautions he has just two years worth of data to support the findings. Shike and Meteer did a Facebook live video discussing lush spring grasses and the impact on cattle going to pasture that includes more details on conception rate work. Search Facebook for “University of Illinois Beef Cattle Extension”.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Choosing Nitrogen Rates

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Choosing Nitrogen Rates
Emerson Nafziger, Extension Agronomist - University of Illinois
read blog post

The growing season has started and most corn farmers have already applied nitrogen. It is a very expensive plant food and, as Todd Gleason reports, getting the rate right may mean using a little less.

Here’s how the University of Illinois nitrogen…
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Here’s how the University of Illinois nitrogen recommendation used to work. It was formula equal to roughly one-point-two times the expected yield minus the nitrogen leftover from the previous crop. That “yield-goal-based system” recommends too much for today’s corn hybrids says University of Illinois Extension Agronomist Emerson Nafziger.

Nafziger :13 …up more than requirements for nitrogen have gone up.

Quote Summary - That yield-goal-based system flat-out doesn’t work anymore. The reason it doesn’t is that our yields have gone up a lot, and we are clearly showing that yields have gone up more than requirements for nitrogen have gone up.

Nafziger believes there are two reasons for the change. First, he says the system always recommended more nitrogen than was really needed.

Nafziger :22 …bushel or what ever formulation people were using.

Quote Summary - And the other is that our hybrids have become much better at extracting what’s there; water and the nutrients that come with water. Nitrogen is the main one of those. Today we get higher yields and do not have to use the 1.2 pounds of nitrogen per bushel or what ever formulation people were using.

ILLINOIS abandon the formula about ten years ago in a favor of a system used and promoted by Land Grant’s throughout the corn belt. It is called the N Rate Calculator and it actually brought the Illinois rates down by a few pounds for this year.

Nafziger says at current corn and nitrogen prices, guideline rates for corn following soybean are 154, 172, and 179 pounds of nitrogen per acre in northern, central, and southern Illinois, respectively. 200, 200, and 189 for corn after corn. Southern Illinois farmers will make note that their rate for corn after soybeans is higher than in either central or northern Illinois and lower than both of those for corn after corn.

You may find and use the calculator online. Just search for “n-rate calculator”.

Too Early to Worry About Late Planting

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Too Early to Worry About Late Planting
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

Farmers have been a bit worried about getting into the field because of rains throughout the Midwest. It looks like those will clear out for the week, mostly, and even if they don’t, there isn’t much to worry about, yet. Todd Gleason has more on when the ag economist at the University of Illinois think late planting impacts the markets and yields.

Farmers have been itching to go to the field…
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Farmers have been itching to go to the field. They want to plant corn in the Midwest. There’s also some rumblings about delayed planting. That’s a little hard to swallow in mid-April says Todd Hubbs.

Todd Hubbs :05 …not getting a corn crop in.

Quote Summary - We need a few more weeks before we start getting panicked about not getting a corn crop in.

Hubbs is an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. He’s looked at the stats and the historical record. He says it is pretty concise.

Hubbs :18 …data on crop progress and planted acres.

Quote Summary - If we have a huge amount of corn planted late, then we will see some acreage removed from the national portfolio. There is really no correlation or pattern with soybeans being planted late. There is for corn when you look at the national data on crop progress and planted acres.

It’s a correlation that won’t happen for about a month if it happens at all.

Hubbs :28 …I don’t think we are in any danger right now.

Quote Summary - May 20th for corn is late. You do see some yield hits as you move along. Emerson Nafziger has a really nice post from last year for Illinois in particular about corn and soybean yields and planting dates. So, May 20th for corn and around May 30th for soybeans and I don’t think we are in any danger right now.

You can check out Emerson Nafziger’s planting date post on the web. Just search google for bulletin and University of Illinois.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Working to Create New Illini Brand Soybean Varieties

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Working to Create New Illini Brand Soybean Varieties Troy Cary, Crop Sciences - University of Illinois Lauran Widman, ACES Graduate Student - University of Illinois

Troy Cary & Lauran Widman (wihd-man) are working to create twelve-thousand 2017 University of Illinois soybean breeding program plots. Todd Gleason caught up with them on Tuesday morning and put together this look at some of the pre-planting season work.

They started out as individually selected…
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Troy Cary, Crop Sciences
University of Illinois

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Lauran Widman, ACES Graduate Student University of Illinois

YouTube Link

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Frozen Sweet Peas Recall, Listeria, & Pregnant Women

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The Frozen Sweet Peas Recall, Listeria, & Pregnant Women
Mary Liz Wright, Nutrition and Wellness Educator - University of Illinois
voluntary recall notice
read blog post



Earlier this week (April 11th) frozen sweet peas sold under the Season’s Choice Brand at Aldi stores in seven states (including Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin) were voluntarily recalled.

Listeria is a particularly concerning pathogen…
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Listeria is a particularly concerning pathogen that University of Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator Mary Liz Wright says should especially be avoided by pregnant women. However, Wright says there are some easy ways to make sure frozen peas are listeria free.

Wright :28 …chill them and use them in your salad.
Quote Summary - We need to cook those frozen vegetables before we add them to a cold salad. Listeria can be killed at 155 degrees F. So, bringing the peas up to a 155 degrees will kill the listeria and then you can safely chill them and use them in your salad.
The U.S. government reports pregnant women are twenty-percent more likely to contract listeria. It can lead to miscarriage.

Lakeside Foods says the 16 ounce packages of Season’s Choice frozen sweet peas were potentially contaminated. The product has already been removed from store shelves. Consumers should either throw the frozen peas they’ve purchased away, or return them for a full refund.

How to Boil, Color, and use Easter Eggs

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How to Boil, Color, and use Easter Eggs
Mary Liz Wright, Extension Nutrition & Wellness - University of Illinois
read blog post

If you haven’t made Easter Eggs for the weekend, you’re in luck. There is still time and Todd Gleason has the how-to details with University of Illinois Extension’s Mary Liz Wright.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pork Industry Favored by Strong Demand

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Pork Industry Favored by Strong Demand
Chris Hurt, Extension Agricultural Economist - Purdue University

The price of hogs should go up in 2017 even though there will be more of them around. Todd Gleason has more…

This year pork producers around the nation should…
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This year pork producers around the nation should raise about three percent more hogs. This increase in supply will coincide with an increase in price. That’s a bit unusual, but there are some reasons for it to happen says Purdue University Extension Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt.

Hurt :28 …at decade lows, as well.

Quote Summary - Prices will be supported by stronger demand because of a growing U.S. economy and by a robust eight percent growth in exports as projected by USDA. New packer capacity is also expected to contribute to stronger bids for hogs. Feed costs will be the lowest in a decade and total production costs are expected to be at decade lows.

The national breeding herd has increased by four percent since 2014. Notable expansions of the breeding herd in the past three years have occurred in Missouri 25 percent; Ohio 9 percent; Illinois 8 percent; and Indiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma each up 4 percent. Given this increase, it is important to note live hog prices averaged about $46 last year. It is estimated producers lost about $11 on each hog they marketed. Prices are expected to be $3 to $4 higher this year.

Live hog prices averaged about $50 per hundredweight in the first quarter of 2017. Prices for the second and third quarters are expected to average in the very low $50s. Prices will likely be seasonally lower in the fourth quarter and average in the mid-$40s. Chris Hurt says if this forecast pans out, then prices would average near $49 for the year and be slightly under projected total costs of production. Producers would still lose about a $1 for every hog sold.

Hurt :13 …receiving a normal rate of return.

Quote Summary - This is basically a forecast for a breakeven year with all costs being covered, including labor costs and equity investors receiving a normal rate of return.

There are some financial shadows that could fall on the pork industry in 2017. Hurt is concerned about competition from the beef and poultry sectors. Both have increased production and will be vying for the consumer’s food dollar. That, by-the-way, has had an optimistic start to the year. However, Chris Hurt is cautious about the follow-through needed to maintain the strong economic tone as the new Administration works to develop stimulus packages. Feed costs, bad weather conditions in the northern hemisphere are always a concern. And finally, the industry, he says, needs to keep expansion of the breeding herd to near one percent.

Hurt :23 …one percent annual growth needed to expand exports.

Quote Summary - This one percent increase along with about one percent higher weaning rates means the industry can increase pork production about two percent a year. That is sufficient to cover a one percent growth in domestic population and about one percent annual growth needed to expand exports.

Growth of the breeding herd at more than one percent could shift the industry back into deeper losses.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dicamba Soybeans | how to manage herbicide applications

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Dicamba Soybeans | how to manage herbicide applications
Aaron Hager, Extension Weed Scientist - University of Illinois

read more from Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension

Farmers going to the field this spring will be using a brand new type of soybean. Todd Gleason has more on why dicamba-resistant varieties will require them to exercise caution when making herbicide applications.

Dicamba is a very old herbicide…
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Dicamba is a very old herbicide. It has been in use for more than four decades. It kills broadleaf plants and one of the most sensitive of these says University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager has long been the soybean.
Hager :13 …trying to look at how soybean are.
Quotes Summary - It is one of the most sensitive broadleaf species that is grown in Illinois. You can look in the literature and find studies that have been done now for forty or fifty years really trying to look at how soybean are.
Recent work out of Missouri indicates sensitivity down to a rate of one-twenty-thousandths of a field use rate. There are many things listed on the dicamba label that will legally bind farmers planting dicamba and spraying resistant varieties. Even pre-season prohibitions.
Hager :38 …application, if we do that the buffer goes to 220 feet.
Quote Summary - We will give one example. If we are look at the Extendimax label, which is a straight dicamba formulation from Monsanto, there is a requirement to have a buffer area. A downwind buffer area. The size of that buffer area would vary depending on the rate that is applied. So, an in crop application that would require half-a-pound of dicamba acid would require a 110 foot buffer. However, if we are using decamba now in this pre-plant or pre-emergence time frame, when we are allowed to go up to a full pound at that application, if we do that the buffer goes to 220 feet.
This is not a recommendation. It a restriction. There is a big difference says Aaron Hager and farmers planning to use dicamba on dicamba resistant soybean fields this season must understand the consequences.
Hager :18 …are now violating this federal label.
These statements on these labels are not recommendations. These are things that must be followed every time these applications are made. So, for example, if you elect not to follow something like the nozzle selection type, or the height of the boom above the crop canopy, you are now violating this federal label.
This story has listed just a few of the restrictions; the downwind buffer, the nozzle selection type, the height of the boom above the canopy. There are others including speed, temperature, inversions, and predicted rainfall events. The point says Hager is that farmers choosing to use dicamba resistant soybeans this season and spraying them with decamba must read, understand, and follow the labels.

Birds, Bees, & Wild Things | Sting Like a Bee

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Birds, Bees, & Wild Things | Sting Like a Bee
Jason Haupt, Energy & Environmental Stewardship - University of Illinois
read blog spot

Pollinators play a significant role in keeping habitats healthy and diverse. They are important to agriculture pollinating crops and help in ensuring a good healthy yield. When most people think of pollinators, their first thought is honeybees. However, there are so many more bees than just honey- bees (which are non-native) and more than 3,500 species of native bees in the United States with 228 of them found in Illinois. Without bees, much of the produce that you love to have in the summer would not be available in the quantities or the quality that you love. Peppers, tomatoes, many root vegetables, and many fruits need bees to pollinate and produce healthy produce. Bees ensure that the flowers properly pollinate and produce healthy and abundant fruits, seeds, and vegetables. Research has also shown that an increased native bee population also makes honeybees produce more honey increasing the yield of local honey.

Birds, Bees, & Wild Things | Float Like a Butterfly

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Birds, Bees, & Wild Things | Float Like a Butterfly
Jason Haupt, Energy & Environmental Stewardship - University of Illinois
read blog spot

When you are looking to attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard, you need to think about providing for all stages in the life of the insects that you want to attract. Insects have multiple life stages, and each stage has a different food requirement. Milkweed is one of the most common plants chosen to attract butterflies, Monarchs specifically, but Milkweed only provides for one of the life stages of the Monarch’s life cycle. To attract and keep the butterflies coming to your yard, you need to provide food for the larval stage (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and the adult (butterfly) stages. Each stage has specific requirements.

Birds, Bees, & Wild Things | Feathered Friends

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Birds, Bees, & Wild Things | Feathered Friends
Jason Haupt, Energy & Environmental Stewardship - University of Illinois
read blog spot

Attracting wildlife to your yard is something in which everyone seems to be interested. But knowing how to do this is what many people lack. As you think about attracting wildlife to your yard, the first step is to start looking at your yard as a habitat. All habitats have four elements: water, shelter, food, and space.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Corn & Soybean Planting Date Recommendations

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Corn & Soybean Planting Date Recommendations
Emerson Nafziger, Extension Agronomist - University of Illinois

Coming up, we’ll hear some planting date recommendations from Emerson Nafziger. Todd Gleason reports the University of Illinois agronomist is surprised by the consistency between corn and soybeans.

The University of Illinois has conducted planting date…
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The University of Illinois has conducted planting date studies for decades. Emerson Nafziger smiles to himself when he says he’s been here for more than a couple of them. It’s the last 10 years he says that has really changed things.

Nafziger :28 …as it probably was twenty or thirty years ago.

The big surprise we are finding is that corn and soybean responses are so similar. What I think has happened with genetic improvement in both crops is that they have both become more stress tolerant and resilient. Consequently, late planting is not quite so damaging to yield potential as it probably was twenty or thirty years ago.

Here’s the other thing. Nafziger says the old rule is that soybeans suffer less than corn from late planting. This meant farmers planted corn first and, only when that was completed, would soybean be sown. This is not the situation today says Nafziger.

Nafziger :24 …much the same for corn and soybeans.

Quote Summary - The fact is the two lines of yield decline, as you get into late May planting for corn and soybeans - as a percentage of maximum yield for a site - those two lines lay right on top of each other. Basically, it says priority for planting dates is pretty much the same for corn and soybeans.

The point being, when soil conditions are right - especially late in the planting season - there isn’t a reason to prioritize based on crop, corn or soybeans, but rather to just plant the field that is in the best condition first. This lengthens out the viable planting dates at the end of the season. A similar thing has happened at the front of the season, too, says Nafziger.

Nafziger :33 …pretty soon after that as fields are ready to plant.

Quote Summary - I think that today, with what we’ve found with corn and soybeans, sometime in mid-to-late April is really the best time to plant either corn or soybeans. I would be inclined to start with corn before the middle of April, but if I had two planters, I’d have the second one planting soybeans pretty soon after that as fields are ready to plant.

If you’d like to read more about the University of Illinois planting date studies for corn and soybeans, please look for Emerson Nafziger’s article on The Bulletin website. Search Google for bulletin-comma-university of Illinois.

Are Native Plants Better than Non-Native

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Are Native Plants Better than Non-Native
Chris Enroth, Extension Horticulture - University of Illinois
read blog article

The time of year has come to think about what plants you’d like to put in your yard and garden. Todd Gleason talks with University of Illinois Extension’s Chris Enroth about how he decides what to plant, and… what to constrain.

Are Cooking Oils Interchangeable

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Are Cooking Oils Interchangeable
Jenna Smith, Extension Nutrition & Wellness, University of Illinois
read blog article

As you read a recipe, you see it calls for canola oil, but all you have is olive oil. Do you reach for the canola or put on your shoes and head to the store? Todd Gleason talks with University of Illinois Extension’s Jenna Smith about the interchangeability of cooking oils.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Corn Prices Moving Forward | an interview with Todd Hubbs

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Corn Prices Moving Forward | an interview with Todd Hubbs
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

May corn futures’ prices tumbled to the lowest price level since December during the week ending March 24. Large crop estimates from around the world placed downward pressure on the corn market despite some positive domestic consumption numbers in exports and corn used for ethanol. Still, Todd Hubbs from the University of Illinois is hopeful there could be some support left in the corn market over time.

read full article on farmdocDaily

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The American Robin: Living up to its Superhero Image

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The American Robin: Living up to its Superhero Image
Chris Enroth, Extension Horticulture Educator - University of Illinois

by Chris Enroth, University of Illinois Extension

After an exceptionally mild winter, I noted my first robin sighting about three weeks ago. During that initial observation, scores of robins had arrived in my yard. Spring is a time of year when the migratory American robin can be found scouring the earth in search of protein. Sipping on my coffee, wave after wave of robins hopped through the yard, stopping to cock their head, as if listening for worms in the soil below. Scratching and digging through my leaf mulch, these red-breasted thrushes, found quite a feast.




Our American Robin suffers from an unfortunate Latin/scientific name coincidence- Turdus migratorius. Thumbing through various literature, ornithologists with an impeccably matter-of-fact tone describe the origin of Turdus as Latin for “thrush.”

Though my first sighting of a robin was in late February, most likely they’ve been here all winter. According to Douglas Stotz with the Chicago Field Museum, robins are migratory birds. In fact, fifteen years ago most American robins were flying south for the winter. With increasingly warmer winters, robins are now year-round Illinois residents. Cornell’s Journey North map reveals that robins were sighted in Southern Canada on January 24.



American robins are one of the first songbirds to nest in the spring. The male’s song is what we often hear on these crisp mornings warding off competing males while drawing in female mates. The female builds her nest and lays her beautiful blue eggs, while the male watches over and provides food during the incubation (fourteen days) and fledgling stage (about two weeks).

American robin chicks are born completely featherless, blind and totally dependent on their mother and father to regulate their body temperature, food, and protection. Only about one-quarter of baby robins survive the summer. Predators abound seeking eggs or newly hatched nestlings. Housecats have become a problematic non-native predator of songbirds. Nest predators slither, walk, and fly and range from snakes to raccoons to jays and many others.

With such a high mortality rate, it is remarkable how the American Robin has succeeded in establishing across the entire North American continent. Robins can rear two to three broods per season and adults live an average lifespan of two years.

At this point, my son joined me at the breakfast table, watching the late-winter spectacle unfold of birds digging up various invertebrates from our yard and carrying them around in their beaks (including the signature earthworm). Upon pointing out the birds picking their way through our yard were robins, his eye lit up. “Like Robin from the movie?” (Referencing his growing Batman knowledge) “Yes,” I explain, “they could be considered protectors in the bird world.”

Being so large in comparison to other songbirds, the American Robin can produce one of the loudest songs. Not only do robins use their songs to attract mates, but they also have songs to sound the alarm of an approaching predator.

Biologists have found that robin songs are so pronounced, that other species of birds, squirrels, and deer respond to their alarm call. In a way, robins act as a scout. Foraging on the open ground leaves these birds open to many predators, so they must be vigilant. Often when trouble arrives, robins are the first to sound the alarm. Signaling to other wildlife to be on the lookout, run/fly away, or a call to action to thwart a stalking housecat or sneaky snake.

While the song of the American Robin is music to our winter ears, these birds carry far more than a cheery tune. Their warnings protect and rally those being preyed upon by cunning predators. The American Robin, our backyard superhero.

Historical Planted Acre Changes for Corn and Soybeans | an interview with Gray Schnitkey

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Historical Planted Acre Changes for Corn and Soybeans | an interview with Gray Schnitkey
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist- University of Illinois

Friday, March 31, 2017, USDA will release the Prospective Plantings report. The survey of U.S. farmers will estimate how many acres of corn and soybeans will be sown this spring. University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey talks with Todd Gleason about the historical changes in planted acres.



by Gary Schnitkey
see farmdocDaily post

At its annual Agricultural Outlook Conference in February, USDA projected that planted acres of corn would decrease from 94.0 million acres in 2016 to 90.0 million in 2017, a decrease of 4 million planted acres. At the same time, soybean acres are projected to increase from 83.4 million acres in 2016 to 88.0 million in 2017, an increase of by 4.6 million acres. Herein, we evaluate historical changes in acres across counties, thereby providing perspective on where likely 2017 acreage changes may occur.

U.S. Planted Acres

In 2016, planted acres to corn in the United States was 94.0 million acres (see Figure 1). This acreage level was the third highest number of planted acres since 2000, only being exceeded by 2012 (97.3 million acres) and 2013 (95.4 million acres). The 2017 projection of 90 million acres would be a 4.0 million acre decrease from the 2016 level. Plantings of 90.0 million acres would be about the same level as occurred in 2014 (90.5 million acres) and would be below the average planting for the last ten years.



In 2016, planted acres to soybeans was 83.4 million acres, the highest amount ever planted in the United States. Before 2014, planted acres to soybeans never exceeded 80 million acres (see Figure 1). Planted acres exceeded 80 million acres in each year since 2014: 83.2 million acres in 2014, 82.6 million in 2015, and 83.4 million in 2016.

In the following maps, acreage changes from 2011 to 2016 will be shown. In 2011, U.S. corn acres were 91.9 million, 1.9 million acres higher than in 2016. Reversing the corn acre increases during this five year period would go part way to reaching the decreases projected for 2017. The soybean acreage increase from 2011 to 2016 of 8.4 million represents twice the change projected from 2016 to 2017.
Corn Acre Changes

Figure 2 shows a map color coded to give changes in acres from 2011 to 2016. Counties colored blue had increases in acres, counties coded in orange had decreases in acres. Those counties that are yellow had essentially the same acres in 2016 as they did in 2011.



Several areas had pronounced increases. In particular, the northern Great Plains had sizeable increases. Between 2011 and 2016, North Dakota increased acres by 1.2 million, South Dakota by .4 million, and Minnesota by .4 million. Another area of sizable increase was Texas, with the planting .9 million more acres in 2016 than in 2011. Counties along the Mississippi River, especially in Arkansas, increased acres as well.

There were areas of notable decreases as well. Sizable decreases in corn acres occurred in Illinois. Between 2011 and 2016, planted acres in decreased by 1.0 million in Illinois. Indiana and Iowa had modest decreases as well.

Soybean Acre Changes

Figure 3 shows a map with planted acre changes for soybeans. Similar to corn, soybean acres increased in the upper Great Plans. Planted acres increased by 2.0 million acres in North Dakota, 1.1 million acres in South Dakota, and .5 million acres in Minnesota.



Other areas of significant increase were Illinois with a 1.1 million acres increase in planted soybeans. Planted acres also increased along the Mississippi River, parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as areas in North and South Carolina.

Perspective on Changes for 2017

Areas with large acreage changes in the past likely will contribute in a significant way to acre changes from 2016 to 2017. These areas include the upper Great Plans, Texas, and the corn belt.

It seems conceivable that total corn and soybean acres could continue to increase in the upper Great Plains in 2017. Much of the acreage increases of corn and soybeans between 2011 and 2016 came from acres previously planted to wheat. In 2017, wheat acres could continue to decrease, leading to increases in corn and soybean acres. Whether corn acres will decrease while soybean acres increase in this region is an open question. One event that could lead to acre decreases is higher incidence of prevented planting. Prevented plantings were low in 2016, leaving open the possibility of increases in prevented planting acres in 2017.

Texas could see acreage shifts away from corn. Cotton prices look favorable, and an increase in cotton acres could contribute to fewer acres in corn.

Illinois and the corn belt in general could see shifts from corn to soybeans. Returns from crop budget suggest soybeans will be more profitable than corn (farmdoc daily, December 6, 2016), suggesting a shift is possible.

While budgets suggest the possibility, acre shifts have been slow in coming. Perhaps the most likely area where a shift will occur is where corn acres exceed soybean acres by a considerable margin. Corn acres divided by soybean acres exceed 1.0 in many counties in southern Minnesota, Iowa, northern and central Illinois, and western Indiana (see Figure 4). Bringing these areas back closer to a 50% corn - 5% soybean rotation, indicated by 1.0 corn divided soybean value, could increase profits suggesting that switches are possible.



Summary

Areas that experienced large acre changes in the past likely will be the ones where acres changes occur in 2017. This suggests focus on the upper Great Plains, Texas, and Illinois and the corn belt more generally. Continued corn and soybean acreage increases in the upper Great Plains seem reasonable to expect, except if prevented planting acres increase significantly. Texas could experience reduced corn acres. Budgets suggest switches to more soybeans from corn in the Midwest, although this is the case in previous years. Further indications of planting attentions will be received with the release of NASS’s Prospective Plantings report on March 31.

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…
2:06 radio
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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…
1:39 radio
1:57 radio self-contained

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…
1:51 radio
2:03 radio self-contained

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…
2:57 radio
3:04 radio self-contained

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.

2016 Corn and Soybean Yields in Perspective | an interview with Gary Schnitkey

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2016 Corn and Soybean Yields in Perspective | an interview with Gary Schnitkey

read the full article

The National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) recently released 2016 county yields for both corn and soybeans. In this article, maps are produced showing actual 2016 yields minus 2016 trend yields. Examination of these maps shows areas of above trend and below trend yields for 2016. Areas of above trend yields will have higher 2016 incomes relative to those areas with below trend yields.



Individual county trend yields are calculated using data from 1972 through 2016. A linear line is fit through these yields using ordinary least squares. The 2016 trend yields were based on these linearly fit relationships.

The following maps report actual minus trend yields. By calculating trend yields, the inherent productivity of the farmland is taken into consideration, and actual yields are stated relative to that productivity.






Schnitkey reports those areas with above trend yields will have relatively higher incomes than those areas with below trend yields. In 2016, lower grain farm incomes will be more pronounced in the eastern corn belt and particularly in Indiana and Ohio.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Another Way to Evaluate $3.40 Corn

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Another Way to Evaluate $3.40 Corn
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

Farmers across the United States aren’t very happy with the price of corn in Chicago. However, as Todd Gleason reports, a University of Illinois study shows they might reconsider what that price really means given the very good yields most harvested last fall.

Price times yield equals income…
2:17 radio
2:33 radio self-contained

Price times yield equals income. It’s a pretty simple calculation, but one that’s pretty easy to dismiss when the price is really low. Gary Schnitkey wondered a bit about that as it relates to the nation’s corn and soybean farmers. So, the University of Illinois agricultural economist took some time to figure out just how close to the countywide trend-line yield every corn and soybean growing county in the nation came last fall. Most, he says, especially for soybeans, were above trend.

Schnitkey :55 …yields were in New York and Pennsylvania.

Quote Summary - Yeah, so we used data from 1972 up to the present to fit our linear trends. There are areas that had below trends, most notably Ohio and Indiana. Ohio, particularly, had below trend yields on corn. The counties along the Mississippi River starting in Indiana and southern Illinois and going a way down through Arkansas, the boot-heal of Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana had below trend yields. New York and Pennsylvania had below trend yields. Many of the counties that had below trend yields on corn were in the eastern United States. Soybeans, on the other hand, most everybody had above trend yields. We had an exceptionally good yielding year on soybean. Areas where we had below trend yields were in New York and Pennsylvania.

Here’s an example of what all that means. Schnitkey uses Sangamon County Illinois where the trend-line yield for 2016 was a 194 bushels to the acre and the actual countywide corn yield was 222.

Schnitkey :28 …above trend yields we have higher incomes.

Quote Summary - That has a sizable impact on revenue, right. We took that above trend and multiplied by a $3.40 price, which is what WASDE is projecting right now, and found that just above trend added about $95 (per acre) compared to a normal trend-line yield for Sangamon County (Illinois). That is a significant amount. In those areas of the world with above trend yields we have higher incomes.

You may check out Gary Schnitkey’s county-by-county trend-line yield maps and yield differentiations for corn and soybeans on the farmdocDaily website.

Supply Side Pressures Old & New Soybeans

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Supply Side Pressures Old & New Soybeans
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

The price of soybeans has been under pressure and, as Todd Gleason reports, this makes perfect sense to an agricultural economist from the University of Illinois.

When the United States Department of Agriculture…
1:51 radio
2:03 radio self-contained

When the United States Department of Agriculture released this month’s accounting of world soybean stocks, it didn’t surprise University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Todd Hubbs. It showed exactly what he’s been thinking about the soybean market.

Hubbs :37 …strong for soybean prices over the next few months.

I’ve been saying this for a few months now. I think a lot of people have felt this and that the price (of soybeans) hasn’t been reflecting it. On the one hand it is great because we locked in a very nice (crop insurance) price in February, but on-the-other-hand these beans are coming. It is going to put a lot of downward pressure on price. In particular, the March 31st Prospective Plantings report. I don’t know how much more weight we can put on this. It seems ridiculous. If we see a huge expansion of acreage in that report to soybeans then the downside is pretty strong for soybean prices over the next few months.

Hubbs says he has been budgeting in about 4 million extra acres of soybean in the United States this year. His estimate then is about 87.5 million acres. Anything above 89 million acres in the March 31 report he would consider huge.

Hubbs :31 …you could see a real shock to prices.

Quote Summary - That’s a lot of soybeans on top of what USDA says we are going to carryout at the end of this marketing year. So, any kind of normal yield year for U.S. soybean for the 2017/18 marketing year, there is going to be a lot of beans out there. If you’ve got old crop beans hanging around, then know that this March 31st Prospective Plantings report is coming and if it turns out the way a lot of observers think, you could see a real shock to prices.

USDA will release the Prospective Plantings report at 11am Friday, March 31st. If you’d like to read more from Todd Hubbs you may do that on the University of Illinois farmdocDaily website.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Big South American Crops Pressure Price | an interview with Todd Hubbs

Big South American Crops Pressure Price | an interview with Todd Hubbs
Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

by Todd Hubbs
read the full article

Corn and soybean harvest future prices moved sharply lower after the release of the USDA March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report on March 9. December corn futures closed on March 10 at $3.87 per bushel, while November soybean futures moved down to close at $10.00 per bushel. Both prices closed at the lowest levels since late January. When combining the production forecasts for South America with projected changes in domestic use, the competition in export markets looks to be particularly tough for the next few months.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Illini Summer Academies Offer College Experience for High Schoolers

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Illini Summer Academies Offer College Experience for High Schoolers
Alvarez Dixon, Extension 4-H Youth Development - University of Illinois go.illinois.edu/illini4H

Your high schooler can go to college this summer for a few days. Not only that, but they can go to the University of Illinois. Todd Gleason has more on the Illini Summer Academies.

Illinois 4-H is proud to offer this hi-fidelity college exploratory experience on the University of Illinois campus. Participants attend academy sessions led by university professors and enjoy a variety of engaging activities that provide a taste of just how cool college life can be. Imagine getting to work alongside university professors while you’re still in HIGH SCHOOL! Imagine getting to hang out on a college campus. Imagine spending five days with kids your age from all across Illinois. That’s what happens at Illini Summer Academies, so stop imagining it and just do it! This program offers teens the opportunity to explore the University of Illinois campus and many degree programs and careers.

All academies feature project-based learning where youth are either conducting experiements, making something, or discovering some aspect of the world few people ever get to see. Learm more about each Academies by clicking the boxes below. It wouldn’t be college without lots of time for socializing, meeting new friends, and exploring campus. There are 15 different subjects to explore.

  • Aerospace Engineering $440
  • Animal Science $345
  • Anthropology $245
  • Chemistry $240
  • Digital Manufacturing & Rapid Prototyping $350
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering $445
  • Honeybees & Beekeeping $295
  • Human Development & Family Studies $255
  • Molecular & Cellular Biology $345
  • Vet Medicine $335
  • Ag Communications NEW $250
  • Journalism: Activating Your Voice of Inclusion in the Media NEW $220
  • The Science of Family Experiences NEW $255
  • Theatre & Fashion for Stage NEW $285
  • Theatre & Hip Hop NEW $285

Dates Dates are 4 PM Sunday June 25 through 11 AM Thursday June 29.

Eligibility The conference is open to youth who have completed 8th grade by June 2017 and and will be at least 14 by Sept. 1, 2017.

Location You’ll stay in the newer living quarters on campus, Bousfield Hall, 1214 South First Street, Champaign

Registration

Sign Up for 4-H Summer Camp is Open

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Sign Up for 4-H Summer Camp is Open
Curt Sinclair, Director 4-H Memorial Camp - Monticello, Illinois
twitter | https://twitter.com/commodityweek/status/837704329322725377

Sign up is open to everyone for 4-H summer camp in Monticello. As you’ll hear it is a great place to send your kids aged 8–16.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hog Prices Outperform Expectations

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Hog Prices Outperform Expectations
Chris Hurt, Agricultural Economist - Purdue University Extension

There’s some good news for a change in the pork industry. Todd Gleason has more on the better prices with Purdue Extension Economist Chris Hurt.

Hey, some good news for a change… 2:03 radio
2:14 radio self-contained

Chris Hurt :09 …prices higher than earlier expectations.

Quote Summary - Hey some good news for a change. Pork producers are pleased to see prices higher than earlier expectations.

This comes after a really tough year, says Purdue’s Chris Hurt, that bottomed out in November with prices dropping to about $32 for a hundredweight. That’s like paying 32 cents a pound for your pork chop and your bacon - at least at the wholesale price. Now things are way better says the ag economist.

Hurt :08 …deep losses into profitability.

Quote Summary - Recently live prices have reached the mid-$50 and have pulled the industry out of deep losses into profitability.

The leading reason for the better on farm price is actually lower pork prices at the grocery store. The “law of demand” says people will buy more when prices are lower, and retail pork prices… have been lower say Chris Hurt.

Hurt :30 …versus a year ago.

Quote Summary - Retail pork prices peaked in 2014 because of reduced supplies due to the PED virus and have generally been falling since 2015. In the final quarter of 2016, retail pork prices dropped 26 cents per pound from the same period one year earlier. The downward movement continued in January of this year with retail pork prices down 22 cents per pound from one year earlier.

An additional issue contributing to the extremely low prices for pork producers last fall was the small portion of the retail dollar getting back to producers. Another way of saying this is that the margins for the processors and retailers remained substantially higher than normal. As a result, the portion of the retail pork dollar that got back to the producer dropped to 17.5 percent. This was lower than the previous record low of 18.4 percent in the financially tragic final quarter of 1998. As for the rest of 2017, Hurt thinks there is room for even lower retail prices and a higher percentage of that price getting back to the hog producer.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Estimated 2016 ARC-CO Payments

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Estimated 2016 ARC-CO Payments
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) has released the county yields for the 2016 crop year. Todd Gleason tells us these, along with some other estimates, can be used to project the ARC-County (ark) payments farmers and landowners around the nation will receive in October.

ARC-County payments are part of the federal…
1:04 radio
1:22 radio self-contained

ARC-County payments are part of the federal government’s safety net program for American farmers authorized in 2014. The final calculations for the payments to be made this fall won’t be completed for another six months, but Gary Schnitkey from the University of Illinois says there is enough information available to make a good guess at the numbers.

Schnitkey :16 …there are some larger payments as well.

Quote Summary - There are some larger payments on ARC-County for corn. Those occur mainly in the eastern corn belt. Ohio gets larger payments. Along the Ohio River there are some larger payments, and down the Mississippi River there are some larger payments as well.

These are the exceptions across the nation. Schnitkey says a rough rule of thumb is that those areas with county-wide corn yields seven percent above average will not receive a payment. Most counties fall into this category. The same goes for soybeans. Wheat producers mostly east of the Mississippi River, however, may receive a substantial ARC-County payment. There are maps of the projected corn, soybean, and wheat ARC-County payments on the farmdocDaily website.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Estimated 2016 ARC-CO Payments

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Estimated 2016 ARC-CO Payments
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

FOR BROADCAST

(Thursday, Feb 23, 2017) Yesterday the National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) released the county yields for the 2016 crop year. These, along with some other estimates, can be used to project the ARC-County (ark) payments farmers and landowners around the nation will receive in October. Todd Gleason has more from the University of Illinois…

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On February 23rd, the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) released county yields for the 2016 crop year. With these yield estimates, fairly accurate estimates of 2016 Agricultural Risk Coverage at the county level (ARC-Co) can be obtained. We present maps showing estimated payments per base acre for corn, soybeans, and wheat. Also shown are maps giving 2016 county yields relative to benchmark yields. A table showing estimated payments per county in Illinois also is presented.



Procedures Payments for 2016 are still estimates and will vary from those presented here for the following reasons:

• Farm Service Agency (FSA) uses different yields than NASS when calculating ARC-CO payments. Where NASS data is available, the NASS yield generally will be higher than those used by FSA. As a result, estimated payments should be viewed as conservative.

• Market Year Average (MYA) prices are not known because the marketing year does not end until August for corn and soybeans and May for Wheat. MYA estimates used in these projections are $3.50 per bushel for corn, $9.60 per bushel for soybean, and $3.85 per bushel for wheat. Ending MYA prices are likely to vary from these estimates.

• Sequestration amounts may differ from those used here. The ARC-CO payments estimated here use the 6.8% sequestration reduction applied to the 2014 and 2015 payments. The sequestration amount may differ from the 6.8% estimate.





Thursday, February 23, 2017

Global Trade of Agricultural Commodities Expected to Grow

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Global Trade of Agricultural Commodities Expected to Grow
Robert Johannson, Chief Economist - United States Department of Agriculture

China purchases two-thirds of the soybeans traded on the planet. Todd Gleason has more on this and other markets for U.S. crops.

Over the next ten years, USDA expects global soybean…
1:40 radio
1:47 radio self-contained

Over the next ten years, USDA expects global soybean trade to increase by 25% and that Chinese purchases will account for 85% of the increase. The numbers were presented at the Agricultural Outlook Forum in Washington D.C., (today, Thursday, Feb 23, 2017) by USDA Chief Economist Rob Johannson. He says the projections are based on the assumption the number of middle-class households in China will double to nearly 250 million by the year 2024.

Johannson :14 …India is expected to triple by 2024.

Quote Summary - Those households will start demanding more meat, protein, and processed foods in their diet. And looking to other potential markets that could provide significant new demands for food commodities, we note that the number of middle-class households in India is expected to triple by 2024.

Johannson says the United States has not had nearly as much success in opening new markets in India as it has in China. He thinks poultry, eggs, fruit, and milk have the greatest potential. The estimated annual growth in poultry meat, he explains, could exceed eight percent. That kind of livestock trade across the planet the Chief Economist explains will require grain and oilseed farmers to expand acreage.

Johannson :10 …to meet the increase in trade demand.

Quote Summary - Based on projected yield growth, the world will need to allocate about 50 million more acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans at U.S. productivity growth levels to meet the increase in trade demand.

The United States says Johannson is expected to remain the world’s largest exporter of corn over the next ten years with the U.S. share between 38 and 39 percent. Brazil is expected to remain the world’s largest soybean exporter with its share of exports growing to over 50 percent by the year 2026.