University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignCollege of ACES
ACES Animal Sciences
Give to Animal Sciences

The Paul E. and Rose A. Woodson estate has provided an endowment fund to outstanding junior or senior students enrolled in the Department of Animal Sciences.  The Woodson scholarships are based primarily on academic achievement and potential leadership in the animal industry.

Recipients of these scholarships are upper classmen who have completed 60 or more college hours, have demonstrated academic merit in their studies, and are Animal Sciences majors with goals to be involved in food animal production.

The Dr. and Mrs. M. E.  Ensminger Scholarship is a merit based scholarship awarded annually to an Animal Sciences undergraduate.  Criteria used to help determine the recipient of this award includes academic achievement, leadership, extra-curricular activities, and character. Preference will be given to students from Southern Illinois with interest in food animal production.

Greg and Susan Aldrich each earned doctorates at the University of Illinois in the Department of Animal Sciences in 1995.  With a lifetime of dedication and devotion to animals and education, Drs. Greg and Susan Aldrich wish to provide tangible support and encouragement to students pursuing careers caring for animals; all in an effort to give-back and perpetuate the University of Illinois experience.

Dr. A. L. Neumann and his wife, Lorena, made a gift to the University of Illinois Foundation to provide an annual scholarship to a student(s) who transfers from a community college to the Animal Sciences curriculum at the University of Illinois.  Any transfer student enrolled in the Department of Animal Sciences who has completed at least one semester at the University of Illinois may apply for the scholarship. The scholarship will be based upon scholarship (25%), need (25%), and potential leadership in the animal industry (50%).

Robert and Marie Douglas, Douglas-Kalmar Farms, Robinson, Illinois, donated purebred cattle to the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences for use in teaching programs and to develop income for undergraduate scholarship support.  The sale of these purebred cattle provide for an annual scholarship to an outstanding Junior or Senior student enrolled in the Department of Animal Sciences and interested in a career in the purebred beef cattle industry.  The scholarship will be based primarily on potential leadership and involvement in the purebred beef cattle industry.

The family of Alex Edgar has provided the University of Illinois Foundation with a monetary gift which provides for the annual presentation of the Alex Edgar Beef Production Scholarship to an outstanding Junior or Senior student enrolled in the College of ACES and interested in a career in the beef industry.

Students who have an interest in the livestock and meat industry are encouraged to apply for a monetary scholarship presented in memory of Sleeter Bull.  The scholarship winners will be selected based on scholarship (30%), involvement in the meats and livestock industry (30%), undergraduate activities (particularly those related to meat science) (30%) and community and public service (10%). 

The scholarships are made possible from the proceeds of the annual auction of the Illinois State Fair Champion Ham, Bacon and Processed Beef.

The scholarship shall be granted to a student a) based on academic merit whose grade point averages (GPA) are above the average GPA of all students in the Department of Animal Sciences and b) who (1) show promise of future support for the equine industry in Illinois and the United States through efforts such as being a contributing member of a family that owns and breeds horses as a business or for pleasure; (2) participate in research, teaching and extension; and (3) provide excellent professional support to the equine world.

The family, friends, and colleagues of Merle E. LeSage have created an endowment fund to provide a scholarship to undergraduates in the College of ACES. Preference for scholarship recipients goes to Animal Sciences students who have been members of the livestock and/or meat evaluation teams and to transfer students with experience in judging at the community college level.

John Killam served as Director of Legislation for over 20 years for the Illinois Beef Association and the Illinois Association of Meat Processors.  Upon his retirement in 1989, friends of John Killam contributed funds to support a scholarship for a student enrolled in the College of ACES who is studying in the beef cattle or meat science area.  The scholarship will be based on scholarship (25%), interest and involvement in the beef cattle or meat science industries (50%) and other undergraduate activities (25%).  The selection committee for this scholarship will consist of the beef cattle a

Verlin K. Johnson, in memory of his wife, Ida Bruner Johnson, has provided two annual scholarships to the College of Agriculture; one in the School of Human Resources and Family Studies and the second in the Department of Animal Sciences.  The Animal Sciences scholarship is presented to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated excellence in intercollegiate meats judging at the University of Illinois.

The Illinois Association of Meat Processors provides two scholarships to upper level undergraduates who have a strong interest in the meat industry.  Undergraduates with an excellent academic record and who have taken meat science courses, worked at the Meat Science Laboratory, and/or have been on the Meats Judging Team, etc., will be strongly considered.

The Illinois Association of Meat Processors provides two scholarships to upper level undergraduates who have a strong interest in the meat industry.  Undergraduates with an excellent academic record and who have taken meat science courses, worked at the Meat Science Laboratory, and/or have been on the Meats Judging Team, etc., will be strongly considered.

Reception begins at 5:15 p.m., followed by dinner and a program.

Dairy managers, feed companies, veterinarians and others interested in the dairy industry are invited to attend one of the 2012 Dairy Summits, sponsored by the Illinois Milk Producers Association. These meetings will provide an update on dairy management and economics in Illinois.

Dairy managers, feed companies, veterinarians and others interested in the dairy industry are invited to attend one of the 2012 Dairy Summits, sponsored by the Illinois Milk Producers Association. These meetings will provide an update on dairy management and economics in Illinois.

Dairy managers, feed companies, veterinarians and others interested in the dairy industry are invited to attend one of the 2012 Dairy Summits, sponsored by the Illinois Milk Producers Association. These meetings will provide an update on dairy management and economics in Illinois.

The scholarship shall be granted to a student who must have a sincere interest in swine, beef cattle or sheep.  The student must have a tie to livestock judging/evaluation programs in which swine, beef cattle and sheep have been judged by (a) having parents or grandparents who were members of University of Illinois livestock judging/evaluation teams, (b) being a member of a senior livestock judging/evaluation team at the University of Illinois, or (c) being a member of a 4-H or FFA livestock judging/evaluation team that represented the State of Illinois in national competition.  The student

The D. E. Becker Award in Animal Sciences is established to recognize an outstanding undergraduate Animal Sciences student with potential leadership and involvement in the swine industry. This award shall be selected by the Animal Sciences Undergraduate Honors Committee with input from faculty who work in the swine discipline. The award shall be given to a student based on their leadership, documented interest in the swine industry, and their academic achievements.

The Fran Callahan Scholarship for Excellence in Swine Judging recognizes the top swine judge each year from the University of Illinois' Livestock Judging Team, based on his/her performance at the American Royal and the North American International Collegiate Livestock Judging Contests.

This award is given in memory of Phil Rincker to a student who has been a member of the Livestock Judging Team and has a strong interest in the food animal production industries. The student should have evidence of good leadership skills. Preference is given to community college transfer students with a strong livestock judging background.
 

Paul McKellips, Executive Vice President at the Foundation for Biomedical Research, reveals the impacts of using animal models in biomedical research on human and animal welfare.  The presentation is powerful, motivational and inspirational for all audiences, especially for those who work directly with research animals and are often forced to be silent due to attacks and widespread distribution of misinformation by animal activists.  Sponsored by the Agricultural Animal Care and Use Program.

Admission is free and the doors open at 6 PM. In addition to the films, there will also be the traditional IFFF activities, including face painting, the insect petting zoo, and Bugscope. We look forward to seeing you at the 29th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival!

Presented by Gale Cunningham from WIXY Classic Radio 99.1 FM.  Hosted by the Field and Furrow Club.  Cookies and punch will be served.

Bake sale from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. both days.  There will be cookies, toffee nut squares, brownies, s'mores, and vegan options.

Saturday, March 31
8 am      Judging Contest check-in; Cattle may begin arriving

Sunday, April 1
8 am      Heifer Show, followed by Steer Show

For more information, contact Reeder Head
head1@illinois.edu

The Illini Dairy Club is hosting this meeting, and about 400 students from around the Midwest are expected to attend. This is the 30th anniversary meeting of this group, which had its first meeting right here at Illinois.

The Illini Dairy Club is hosting this meeting, and about 400 students from around the Midwest are expected to attend.  This is the 30th anniversary meeting of this group, which had its first meeting right here at Illinois.

Proceeds of the bake sale will help support the club's 2012 Rodeo Club Stampede on April 28, 2012.

Proceeds of the bake sale will help support the club's 2012 Rodeo Club Stampede on April 28, 2012.

Please mark your calendars for our Distinguished Speaker, Shaun Kennedy who will be speaking on March 29th in the Heritage Room, located in the ACES Library.

Kennedy is the Director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) and also the Director of Partnerships and External Relations of the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
More information will be available closer to the date.

Please mark your calendars for the Dekalb Research Center Field Day on Tuesday, July 10th. More information will be available closer to the date.

Please mark your calendars for the Orr Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center Field Day on Tuesday, July 17th. More information will be available closer to the date.

6:00 p.m.  Pizza & soda
6:30 p.m.  Seminar

Speakers:
Jennifer Neef—ACES Career Services
Keri Pipkins—UIUC Career Center

Applying to vet school doesn’t have to be scary!  We’ll have advice from professions on…
• how to write an outstanding personal statement
• successfully completing the VMCAS application
• how & when you should start getting ready for the GRE
• preparing for a successful interview

Hosted by the Pre-Vet Club and the Department of Animal Sciences.

Animal Sciences' Companion Animals Club Dog Wash

U of I Stock Pavilion, 1402 West Pennsylvania Avenue, Urbana

$5 for dog wash and nail trim

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.

Shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.

Contact Geri Goldberg; 217-333-8394; ggoldber@illinois.edu

 

Shot-gun start at 12:00 noon.

For more information, contact Gene McCoy (217-840-0157 / gcmccoy@illinois.edu) or HiDee Ekstrom (217-333-4397 / hekstrom@illinois.edu)

Please mark your calendars for the Dixon Springs Field Day on Thursday, August 2nd, 2012. This event will be held at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center and will begin at 9:00am. Lunch will be provided.

For more information, click here.

 

URBANA -- Wednesday, July 18, has been set as the date for the 31st annual Field Day at the University of Illinois’s Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth, and the program has been finalized. The first tour will leave at 8 a.m., and the last tour will depart at 9 a.m. Each tour will take about two hours to complete.

URBANA – Learn about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at a tour organized by the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN).

The tour will be hosted by Zach and Annie Metzger of Samara Farm. They will discuss harvest, storage, handling, pricing, and marketing in a CSA context during this twilight tour.

URBANA -- A 150-foot-high garbage dump in Colombia, South America, may have new life as a public park. Researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated that bacteria found in the dump can be used to neutralize the contaminants in the soil.

Results of a preliminary experiment conducted at the University of Illinois indicate that it may be possible to select pigs that can make efficient use of energy in less expensive feed ingredients, thus reducing diet costs.

The Illinois 4-H poultry judging team placed eighth high team overall at this event held during the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in Louisville, Ky. The 2011 National 4-H Poultry Judging Contest attracted 20 teams from across the nation to compete for top honors on Nov. 17.

Illinois team members included Nathan Koester of Scales Mound, Meghan Price of Peotone, Codie Geisz of Elizabeth and Corey Wachter of Elizabeth.

Koester placed seventh overall in the production hens division. Each team member received a bronze pin for their overall placings.

URBANA - Corn and soybean prices declined sharply in mid-November and remained at the lower level through mid-December. From mid-December through early January, the cash price of corn in central Illinois increased by 78 cents while the cash price of soybeans increased by $1.21 per bushel, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Potential bull buyers will benefit from a new feature on the Illinois Performance Tested (IPT) Bull Sale website, www.IPTBullSale.com. The site will now include photographs of bulls in the 2012 sale, and/or their sires.

"This feature not only includes the picture of many of the bulls offered in the sale, but also includes images of the bulls' sires and maternal grandsires," said Dave Seibert, IPT Bull Sale manager. "Owners' comments regarding their bulls are also included as part of the expanded site."

URBANA - Hog production returned to profitability in 2011, but producers remain cautious about the future. This is evidenced by the modest expansion of the breeding herd as reported by USDA at the end of the year, said a Purdue University Extension economist.

"Limited expansion would seem to be the prudent path until more is known about 2012 crop yields and feed prices. This suggests no expansion of the breeding herd until mid-summer 2012," said Chris Hurt.

For more than a quarter of a century, Jerald "Snook" Pataky's research in the University of Illinois Sweet Corn Hybrid Disease Nursery has been helping growers make important decisions to increase their profitability.

His observations and trends from evaluating sweet corn hybrids for disease resistance are featured this month in Plant Disease.

A series of webinars on a variety of topics that relate to small farms and local foods will be held at University of Illinois Extension offices throughout the state on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Jan. 24 and running through March 29.

University of Illinois Extension educators will present information on small farms, poultry, horticulture, livestock, woodlands, pests, pasture management, soil fertility, and other topics.

URBANA - Crop prices are heading to year's end on a weak note, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"Corn prices are near the level that existed in the first week of January and well below the late summer highs. Soybean prices are well below the level at the start of the year and at the lowest level since early October 2010. Prices of soft red winter wheat are at the lowest level since July 2010," he noted.

The practice of deep banding fertilizer is growing in popularity as more growers turn to strip-till. However, this method may be costing growers more than it is worth.

A new University of Illinois study revealed that strip-till was superior to no-till and increased yield in soybean. However, the results showed no difference in yield between fertilizer application methods.

Beginning with the 2012 crop year, farmers purchasing crop insurance for corn and soybeans in 14 midwestern states will have the option to use the Trend-Adjusted Actual Production History (TA-APH) Yield Endorsement, allowing farmers to increase yields used in calculating crop insurance guarantees. According to University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist Gary Schnitkey, electing to take this endorsement will give farmers more coverage for the same cost.

University of Illinois professor of economics Angela Lyons has been chosen to be a Blue Ribbon Judge for The iOMe Challenge, a national college contest that is focused on challenging college students to change the world by investing in their future today.

Is it possible to find common ground among colliding beliefs surrounding food and agriculture? Food security is one of the most pressing issues facing world leaders today, and despite the technological tools available to help more of the world's population reach self-sufficiency, an epic communications challenge remains.

URBANA - Crop prices during 2011 were influenced by a wide range of factors that resulted in extremely large trading ranges, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"The price patterns, however, were very different for corn, soybeans, and wheat. As the year ends, thoughts turn to likely price levels in 2012," he noted.

The U of I has been awarded $712,000 by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for continued support of the North Central Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center. This is in addition to the $3.9 million grant that has provided pest management coordination for the North Central region during the past four years.

Grain farms with a higher percentage of acres cash rented will have much lower incomes when commodity prices decline than farms with lower percentages cash rented, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey.

Schnitkey used a 1,200-acre cash grain farm to illustrate four different price scenarios. The farm has expected yields of 187 bushels of corn and 54 bushels of soybeans, grows corn on two-thirds of its acres, has non-land costs of $546 per acre for corn and $306 per acre for soybeans, and has $480,000 of debt.

Livestock producers seeking the latest information on forages, grazing techniques and pasture management have the opportunity to attend the 11th annual Heart of America Grazing Conference. The conference will be held Jan. 25 to 26 in Mt. Vernon, Ill., at the Holiday Inn.

Registration is $35 per day, per person, or $50 for both days. Late registration paid after Jan. 13 is $70. Each year the Heart of America Grazing Conference features speakers and rotates among five states — Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

URBANA - Corn and soybean prices have declined sharply since the release of the USDA's November Crop Production report that contained smaller forecasts of the size of the 2011 harvest for both crops. In addition, the historically strong corn basis has begun to weaken in many markets, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"The recent price behavior suggests that the market believes that the combination of very high prices in the late summer and early fall and weaker demand prospects have been sufficient to ration the relatively small crops," Good said.

Vegetable growers can learn how to extend their growing season at a special field day at Oak Tree Organics in Ashland on Dec. 12.

From 1 to 3:30 p.m., vegetable growers will learn how to use high tunnels, or hoophouses, to extend their growing season and improve the profitability of their farms.

"Many Illinois growers are using high tunnels for their spring, summer and fall harvest, but few have made the leap to using low tunnels for winter growing," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, local food systems and small farms Extension educator.

URBANA - The pork industry is expected to have a profitable year in 2012. In fact, the level of profitability could be the most favorable during the high-priced feed era, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

"Profits in 2012 are currently forecast to be near $17 per head, which would be the highest since 2006. That was the last year of the low feed-price era when corn prices received by farmers averaged about $2.30 per bushel for the calendar year and estimated hog profits were $27 per head," he said.

Illinois growers can now access a new "app" on their Android phones that calculates optimum nitrogen fertilizer application rates, said Dennis Bowman, University of Illinois crop systems Extension educator.

A few years ago, U of I Extension specialists started recommending the Maximum Return to Nitrogen (MRTN) model for calculating the economic optimum nitrogen rate. Several Corn Belt states collaborated on developing this system and created a common website for farmers to use, extension.agron.iastate.edu/soilfertility/Help.aspx.

URBANA - Researchers at the University of Illinois are making progress in the continual effort to develop sustainable and cost-effective processes for harvesting and collecting biomass feedstock. Alan Hansen, a professor in agricultural and biological engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois, is part of a team working with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) to determine the main obstacles in current processes and equipment that could limit their application in biomass feedstock harvesting.

URBANA - Corn prices have traded in a sideways pattern since mid-October, but are currently in the lower end of the recent range, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"Soybean prices have trended lower over the past month with January futures now back near the early October lows," said Darrel Good.

Many Illinois farmers have been disappointed with 2011 corn-after-corn yields, reporting significantly lower corn-after-corn yields compared to corn-after-soybean yields. To provide guidance for 2012 planting decisions, University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey calculated the break-even corn-after-corn yields for farms in northern, central Illinois with high-productivity farmland, central Illinois with low-productivity farmland and southern Illinois regions.

People who do freelance writing or sales can calculate how many hours they'll have to work or how many widgets they'll need to sell to net a certain income but what about farmers?

University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey wanted to calculate some of the variables farmers have to juggle to determine how commodity prices and other costs combine to equal a net income of $50,000.

URBANA - A research team from the University of Illinois is working with scientists in Lebanon to develop a water allocation model that will enable Lebanese communities to enhance their agricultural production, using less water, with a system that is environmentally sustainable.

As the price of natural gas goes up, the cost of producing anhydrous ammonia rises as well, according to a recent report from the University of Illinois.

"The two are related because natural gas is a major input into the production of anhydrous ammonia," said agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey. "It is the major variable cost item in the production of anhydrous ammonia."

Schnitkey's team looked back at the ratio of anhydrous ammonia divided by natural gas prices (anhydrous per ton and natural gas per 1,000 cubic feet).

URBANA - Cattle feeders are going to use more corn than previously expected according to USDA's latest Cattle on Feed report that showed 5 percent more cattle in the nation's feedlots, said Purdue University economist Chris Hurt.

"The real surprise was the higher number of placements in September that has resulted in over one-half million more cattle being fed than a year ago. Feed grains used by cattle in feedlots from the 2011 crop will now likely be more than 5 percent higher than was fed from the 2010 crop," he said.

URBANA - K.C. Ting, head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois, is the first recipient of the James R. and Karen A. Gilley Academic Leadership Award. This award was established to recognize a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) who is currently providing outstanding academic leadership while serving as department head/chair of an ABET-accredited agricultural and biological engineering program in the United States.

With the USDA's October Crop Production report, corn and soybean supply forecasts for the 2011-12 marketing year are likely close to the final estimates, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"Prices will be primarily influenced by the current rate of consumption and expectations about consumption during the remainder of the marketing year. The actual rate of consumption will be revealed sporadically and in some cases slowly. Expectations about future consumption will likely vary widely," he said.

Join the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) for Salute to Ag Day on Saturday, Nov. 19, before the U of I football game versus conference rival Wisconsin.

"Salute to Ag Day is our opportunity to celebrate the importance of agriculture in Illinois and thank our agricultural partners who allow us to fulfill our mission in the College of ACES," said Kendra Courson, ACES Assistant Director of Marketing.

2,4-D is coming back. What many might consider a "dinosaur" may be the best solution for growers fighting weed resistance today, said Dean Riechers, University of Illinois associate professor of weed physiology.

"Farmers can't imagine going back to 2,4-D or other auxin herbicides," Riechers said. "But herbicide resistance is bad enough that companies are willing to bring it back. That illustrates how severe this problem is."

Leadership is more important than ever in today's job market, according to a study published in U.S. News and World Report, which reports that 80 percent of U.S. citizens believe society needs more effective leadership to avoid a national decline. To help better prepare students to fulfill these roles, the University of Illinois has established a new minor in Leadership Studies available to all undergraduate students.

Discover how to earn grants to try out new farming methods at a grant writing workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 6:30 p.m. in Belvidere. Registration begins at 6 p.m.

Learn about the basics of grant writing and grants that are available. Producers and agriculturalists are encouraged to apply for the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Farmer Rancher Grant Program and grants through the Illinois Department of Agriculture, including AgriFIRST, the Specialty Crop Grant Program and the C-2000 Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program.

When it comes to energy, the United States can do better, said Steven Koonin, Undersecretary for Science in the U.S. Department of Energy, at the 2011 Biomass and Energy Crops IV Conference in Champaign.

Although the USDA's estimate of the Sept. 1, 2011 inventory of old-crop corn is old news, there are ongoing questions surrounding the quarterly stocks estimates. For corn, quarterly stocks estimates have not been well anticipated since June 2010, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

Looking for a more cost-effective way to feed your cattle this winter? As the demand for hay continues to increase and prices continue to rise, many Midwest cattle producers are searching for cheaper alternatives to winter feeding.

As harvest comes to an end, some growers will shift their focus to strip-tillage. Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in plant nutrition and soil fertility, offers a few thoughts on applying nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium with strip-till this season.

Nitrogen applications with strip-till

Have you struggled with winter annual weeds getting in the way of spring planting? Many farmers are fighting off these weeds with fall herbicide applications. Applying a herbicide now may help you save time next spring, said Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist.

Before making a fall herbicide application, Hager offers a few reminders:

1. Scout fields before making any application to determine what weeds are present and if their densities are high enough to warrant treatment.

When signing a cash rent lease, landlords who are willing to accept more risk may be rewarded when resulting crop revenues are higher than expected, according to a new cash rent with bonus arrangement.

University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey explained that it is a type of variable cash rent in which a minimum base cash rent is established. There can be a bonus or a higher rent if revenue exceeds a predetermined target.

Finally pork producers have some positive news that has increased optimism for greater profitability in the coming year, said a Purdue University agricultural economist.

"That good news came from USDA in two forms. The first was the September Hogs and Pigs report which indicated little change in the size of the breeding herd. The second was the feed-price lowering impacts of higher-than-expected corn inventories revealed in the September Grain Stocks report," said Chris Hurt.

URBANA - The 2011-12 Certified Livestock Manager (CLM)Training Workshop dates have been set with the first workshop scheduled for December 7 in Bloomington, Illinois. Eleven additional CLM Training workshops, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, have been scheduled throughout the state from January through early March.

Soybean prices have been trending downward in recent weeks. The November CME Group futures peaked at $14.65 a bushel on the last day of August. The same contract traded more than two dollars lower on Sept. 26.

Nitrogen application is one of the many important decisions growers are making now — a decision that impacts both profitability and the environment. Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in plant nutrition and soil fertility, reviews important guidelines that can help protect this nitrogen investment while enhancing environmental protection.

What to apply

It shouldn't be difficult to get wheat seeded this fall in most of Illinois, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

He said the best time to plant wheat ranges from just past mid-September in the northern edge of Illinois to just before mid-October at the southern tip. In the major growing area of southwestern Illinois, wheat should be planted the second week of October. Planting a few days before or after that is not of concern, but planting 10 days to two (or more) weeks early is not the best practice.

Corn following corn may be getting its second strike this season, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger.

The emerging issue of resistance to herbicides, fungicides and Bt rootworm corn across the Corn Belt will highlight the 2011 University of Illinois AGMasters Conference on December 5-6 in Champaign.

Leonard Gianessi, Director of the Crop Protection Research Institute in Washington, D.C., will serve as the keynote speaker of the general session. In addition, Aaron Gassmann, Iowa State University entomologist, will speak in the general session and describe his research on the field-evolved resistance to Bt rootworm corn that he observed in Iowa.

More incidences of severe corn rootworm injury to Bt corn have been observed in northwestern and north central Illinois, said University of Illinois Extension entomologist Mike Gray.

Gray said the affected fields share some common features — corn has been grown without rotation and the Bt hybrids used have expressed the Cry3Bb1 protein for many successive years. Gray answered a few questions to help producers make informed decisions before selecting 2012 seed.

A relatively early harvest throughout most of Illinois should allow enough time to get wheat planted and well established before it gets cold, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. To ensure adequate nutrient availability and successful establishment, he offers a few suggestions for growers.

Where can you find chocolate goat cheese truffles, organic okra, and Ginger Gold apples in the same place? The answer is www.foodmarketmaker.com, an online marketing resource that was created by a team from University of Illinois Extension and has grown to include almost 20 states.

Corn prices have declined sharply so far in September. After reaching a high of $7.79 on August 29, December 2011 corn futures traded to $6.76 early in the trading session on Sept. 19, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"The lower prices have occurred even as USDA lowered the 2011 production forecast by more than 400 million bushels, suggesting that consumption during the 2011-12 marketing year will be restricted and that year-ending stocks will be minimal," he noted.

Just in time for harvest season when farmers are often in their combines, WILL agriculture has crafted a website for mobile devices, m.willag.org, providing access to WILL's on-air agricultural programming and other agricultural news.

The Pre-Opening Market Report, Opening Market Report and Closing Market Report are available on the site each weekday minutes after they air on WILL-AM 580 radio. Commodity Week is available on the site by 6 p.m. Fridays before its 11:30 a.m. Saturday radio broadcast.

URBANA - The weather in Illinois affects everything, including current research in the development of biomass as an energy source. Miscanthus is one of the promising agricultural crops being evaluated as a potential biomass feedstock alternative. Recent agronomy and crop science studies suggest that winter is the optimal time to harvest Miscanthus, so researchers at the University of Illinois have studied the impact weather can have on feedstock production and harvest, as well as subsequent storage and supply activities.

The USDA's Sept. 12, 2011, Crop Production report confirmed expectations of a smaller U.S. corn crop than forecast in August, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"The September soybean production forecast, however, is larger than the August forecast, and the forecast size of the foreign wheat, coarse grain, and soybean crops also exceed the August forecasts," said Darrel Good.

Do you have a small acreage but aren't sure what to do with it? University of Illinois Extension is offering the 10-week course, Living on the Land, to help landowners inventory resources, develop goals to implement sustainable best management practices, and evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities.

Sustainable agriculture research and education grant awards up to $22,500 are now available to farmers, ranchers, youth and youth educators in the North Central Region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Corn ear molds have been observed at the Northwestern Research and Education Center in Monmouth, said Angie Peltier, University of Illinois Commercial Agriculture Extension educator.

"In plant pathology, we like to talk about the disease triangle," Peltier said. "Not only must a susceptible hybrid and the pathogen be present, but weather conditions must be conducive for disease development."

It's time to determine what to do with corn stover, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension soil and plant fertility specialist.

"As a new growing season comes to an end, growers are considering their options to determine what to do with corn stover," he said. "Corn stover has become more of a management concern over the years as new hybrids produce stronger stalks, relatively larger amounts of biomass, more corn-on-corn acres are planted, and less tillage is done."

As dry weather continues and crop condition ratings fall, many question if the corn and soybean crops are done for the year or if adding more yield is still possible.

"If there is no green color left on either corn or soybean at this point, then there is little or no chance to add yield," said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist. "No green leaf area means no more photosynthesis; the 'factory is closed' for this crop."

Research results from the 2011 Fusarium head blight evaluations are now available on the University of Illinois Variety Testing website for growers to consider when choosing wheat varieties this fall.

"Fusarium head blight, or scab, is one of the greatest threats to Illinois wheat producers," said Carl Bradley, University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist. "In addition to causing yield reductions and poor test weights, the fungus that causes the disease (Fusarium graminearum) can produce chemicals known as mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON) that contaminate grain."

Take advantage of the elevated view from your combine cab to survey and assess the effectiveness of your weed management program this fall.

"A field free of weeds during harvest is very desirable and represents an outcome that will require increased management as weeds continue to adapt to modern crop production practices," said Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist.

With smaller grain and oilseed supplies than those of a year ago and increased storage capacity, there should be fewer crop storage issues than in recent years, said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

"The decision by producers to store corn and soybeans, however, should be based on expected returns rather than on capacity to store," he said.

The 2011-12 corn and soybean marketing years will be characterized by the need to reduce consumption of both crops, but the magnitude of those needed reductions are not yet known and the prices needed to make those cuts will depend on the strength of underlying demand, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

University of Illinois student James Karnia was given an opportunity many students dream about. Through a new, mentor-guided program, he is conducting groundbreaking research using bioinformatics, the application of computer science and information technology to the field of biology.

The New Biology Fellows program, a four-year quantitative biology and informatics research program for undergraduate students is funded by a $662,836 National Science Foundation grant. Karnia is one of seven students participating in the first year of this program.

Tour the five-acre sustainable Anderson Farm at the Sustainable and Organic Farmers Network Potluck on Sept. 26 in Leland. The potluck will begin at 5 p.m., with a farm tour following at 6 p.m.

"The rural ethic is to leave the world in a better condition than we found it for the next generation. Sustainability fulfills that rural ethic and the ethic of life," said Andy Anderson, owner Anderson Farm.

Severe root damage observed in Bt corn in northwestern Illinois last week should alert growers to carefully consider 2012 seed selection choices, said Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

The list of herbicide active ingredients available for pre-harvest applications in corn or soybean is relatively short, said University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager.

"In corn, glyphosate, paraquat and some formulations of 2,4-D or premixes containing 2,4-D may be applied to provide suppression/control of weeds prior to harvest, while glyphosate, paraquat, dicamba (Clarity) and carfentrazone are labeled for pre-harvest applications in soybean," he said.

URBANA - Five students from the University of Illinois spent a month in Greece this spring, studying renewable energy alongside students from the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) and the University of Thessaly in Volos. Amy Girlich, Alex Heidtke, Grace Nelson, Rachael Ramsey, and Sarah Shimizu were part of a team-based collaboration that allowed students from both countries to experience the process of identifying and solving real-world engineering problems.

This year's corn crop is not big enough to meet the entire consumption base that has been built. Prices will have to be high enough to convince some end users to reduce consumption from current levels. Can the pork industry compete with other end users? asked Purdue University economist Chris Hurt.

Patients suffering from an aggressive brain cancer will benefit from the results of a University of Illinois study that could advance the development of targeted gene therapies and improve prognosis.

"We have advanced the understanding of the role of microRNAs on glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly brain cancer, by studying the networks between the microRNAs and their target genes associated with different stages of cancer development and progression," said Kristin Delfino, a U of I doctoral candidate in animal science with a focus in genetics and bioinformatics.

Although home values have gone down, the value of Illinois farmland is up by 18 percent. According to an August 4th report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the price of Illinois farmland averaged $5,800 per acre in 2011, an increase of 18 percent over the 2010 level of $4,900.

URBANA - The Illini Pullers, a student organization in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois, will be hosting an exhibition ¼-scale tractor pull at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, on Tuesday, August 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition will take place in the Ride 'n Drive area located in the south end of Progress City.

As the old adage goes, "All that glitters is not gold." Likewise, all that glitters is not Goss's wilt this growing season.

"When a disease that has occurred only sporadically in past seasons suddenly becomes a big player, worries and conjecture abound," said Suzanne Bissonnette, University of Illinois Plant Clinic Coordinator.

In the past few weeks, Goss's wilt has been reported from a number of areas east of the Mississippi River where the disease sporadically occurred in isolated fields.

Are your trees getting scorched by the drought-like conditions in Illinois this summer? Find out if your trees are experiencing bacterial leaf scorch (BLS), the infectious type of scorch, by sending in your samples to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.

The USDA projects that 13.245 billion bushels of U.S. corn will be consumed during the marketing year that ends on Aug. 31, 2011. That forecast is 60 million bushels below the July forecast but is 179 million bushels above the record consumption in the previous year, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"Corn exports during the year just ending are projected at a six-year low of 1.825 billion bushels. Domestic feed and residual use of corn is projected at only 5 billion bushels, the smallest use in 15 years," he said.

URBANA - Five undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received a $5,000 grant from British Petroleum to research the engineering properties of biomass. The students wrote the grant to develop a virtual database that will tell end users the properties of different types of energy crops, such as sorghum, Miscanthus, switchgrass, willow and energy cane, and their value for energy production.

Soybeans are entering the critical pod-filling phase in most parts of Illinois. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, said although soybean crop condition ratings are not very high, there have been few serious problems in the soybean crop so far.

Flowering in the 2011 crop started at about the normal time, and crop progress has been close to normal up to now, he said. High temperatures in July and limited rainfall in some areas have produced afternoon stress symptoms, leading to concerns about the ability of the crop to set pods.

As students head back to campus, more furniture is finding its way to the street corners in hopes of attracting a new owner. Students should think twice before picking up those old couches, said Ben Hottel, a master's degree student in entomology at the University of Illinois.

It's time to save the date for the 2012 University of Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics.

"This series of meetings marks the fifteenth year of the Classics and will continue the program's tradition of providing our clientele with the most current and timely information related to crop production, marketing and pest management," said Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist.

The dates and meeting locations for the 2012 Corn & Soybean Classics are: January 10: Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn

January 11: Springfield Crowne Plaza

URBANA - Giovani Nasca, an exchange student from Italy attending the University of Illinois, decided to improve his English skills the easy way — by listening to hip-hop and watching movies and television.

Mastering English was only one of the adjustments necessary for Nasca, and seven other foreign students, involved in two new exchange projects sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) program.

Fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables will be sold at the University of Illinois Agronomy Day's Sustainable Student Farm (SSF) produce stand at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center in Urbana on August 18.

Attendees may purchase tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil, sweet corn and melons grown on campus with limited inputs.

The 2011-12 corn and soybean marketing year officially begins on Sept. 1. As pointed out last week, the 2010-11 marketing year is ending with a slowdown in the consumption of both corn and soybeans, suggesting that year-ending stocks could be larger than projected in the USDA's July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"Those stocks will not be known until Sept. 30, and the estimates in the September Grain Stocks report often deviate from expected levels," he said.

URBANA - Service providers for the Illinois livestock industry have a new online resource to gain the knowledge necessary to prepare a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP). University of Illinois Extension and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) will offer the CNMP Development Course on Thursday evenings, 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., September 8 through November 17, 2011.

Despite root injury evaluations above the 2010 levels at University of Illinois research and education centers, a new survey of western corn rootworm adults in 24 Illinois counties confirms this pest's presence is lower than average.

Physoderma brown spot is making an appearance in some Illinois corn fields, said Carl Bradley, University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist.

Severe symptoms of this disease, caused by the pathogen Physoderma maydis, have been observed in parts of southern Illinois, Bradley said. Symptoms appear as small, round to oblong spots on the leaves which generally occur in bands.

The high price of row crop commodities has slowed the pace of consumption. As the 2010-11 marketing year enters the final month, there are indications that both soybean and corn consumption will fall short of the most recent USDA projections according to University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good.

The Census Bureau's July 28, 2011 crush report showed this year's month of June soybean crush was 4.85 million bushels. That number is 3.8 percent smaller than the crush in June 2010. Darrel Good said the smaller number is a good example of the crush pace for the marketing year.

Hot, dry weather conditions are bringing out the worst in many fields across the Midwest. Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in plant nutrition and soil fertility, said potassium deficiencies have become the most noticeable.

However, is what you are seeing in the field worth worrying about? Fernandez offers a few reminders and tips for growers.

It's time to monitor soybeans for defoliation that can be caused by several insect pests such as bean leaf beetles, grasshoppers, green cloverworms and Japanese beetles, urged Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

Earlier this week, Gray noted bean leaf beetle defoliation at 5 to 10 percent levels in Champaign County.

Goss's wilt is making a widespread appearance across Illinois, said Suzanne Bissonnette, director of the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. Tests have now identified Goss's wilt in Sangamon, Knox, Livingston, Bureau, Edgar, Shelby, Woodford and Piatt counties.

"In the past two weeks, we've received numerous field corn leaf samples as growers and agriculturalists are noticing the dramatic symptoms in fields across the central and northern parts of the state," she said.

War and political turmoil easily come to mind when thinking about Afghanistan. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, John Santas has dug deeper behind the veil of war and politics to take a closer look at the residents of the country who have been affected by this turmoil for more than 25 years.

Is your plant lacking its typical luster? Bring it to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic booth for a speedy diagnosis during Agronomy Day on August 18.

If you don't have a plant that needs a diagnosis on Agronomy Day, stop by the booth anyway to pick up a coupon for 10 percent off the next sample you send in to the clinic.

The U of I Plant Clinic offers the public unbiased diagnoses of plant problems and access to opinions of specialists in multiple disciplines.

Representatives from academia, government, industry, and the private sector have joined together to form the Illinois Biomass Working Group (IBWG), a coalition organized to study near-term uses for biomass in Illinois. Ted Funk, an Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois, is one of the founding members of the group.

While a hoe may not be the preferred tool for late-season weed control,University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager cautions producers about spraying herbicides.

"Herbicides applied at this time of year typically target large weeds, with results often less than desired with respect to the level of weed control achieved and increased potential for other problems," Hager said.

Agricultural safety and health are complex issues, says Robert Aherin, professor and Agricultural Safety and Health Program Leader in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois. "We develop training and education programs and policies, we study basic design principles to improve and enhance equipment safety, and we try to understand the behaviors and motivations that make people do what they do."

The quantity of beef available to consumers in the United States has declined a startling amount in recent years, and that trend is going to continue. Unfortunately, even higher retail beef prices can be expected for consumers, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension economist.

Enjoy guided tours of the University of Illinois Arboretum's 60 acres of manicured gardens and tranquil landscape at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on August 18 in conjunction with the 2011 U of I Agronomy Day sponsored by the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

Located just south of Florida Avenue off Lincoln Avenue, the Arboretum features several gardens, acres of lawn, groves of trees, serene ponds and miles of running paths.

A recent University of Illinois Farm Economics Facts and Opinions report predicts net returns for 2012 at $269 per acre for corn and $136 per acre for soybeans, indicating a profitable year.

The ASABE 14th Annual International ¼-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition was also the setting for the first annual "Pulling for ABE" barbeque, sponsored by the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois. The event was held at the Expo Gardens in Peoria, Illinois, and faculty, students, parents and alumni all came together to support the Illini Pullers.

The continuation of high temperatures in southern areas and the expansion of hot weather to much of the Corn Belt this week raise additional concerns about corn yield. The high temperatures in the Corn Belt are occurring during the reproductive stage for a large portion of the crop, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

A number of factors combine each year to determine the U.S. average corn yield. Among those factors, temperature and precipitation during July are the most important, he said.

Damaging winds have wreaked havoc on many Illinois corn fields throughout the past two weeks. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist reports that the two major forms of damage that have occurred are green snap and root lodging.

Corn prices have made a modest recovery following the sharp declines stemming from the USDA reports released on June 30, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"The recovery has reflected a combination of continued strong corn demand and a few concerns about yield potential," he said.

Good said that July 2011 corn futures reached a high just below $8.00 on June 10 and declined to a low of $6.15 on June 30. The price of that contract moved about 55 cents higher in the first week of July.

The first recipients of the National Food MarketMaker Innovation Awards are Ohio and South Carolina. The awards, sponsored by Farm Credit, were presented June 27 in Pittsburgh, PA at the National Value Added Agriculture Conference.

Applying nitrogen (N) in July may not be in a grower's plan, but for some corn fields throughout the Midwest, it is needed as soon as possible, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

With soils drying and crops growing very fast as they rapidly accumulate growing degree days, Fernandez said it's a priority to make sure those areas that did not receive sufficient N, or lost some of the applied N, receive it now.

Although the large acreage reported at the end of June shocked the corn market, it almost goes without saying that good yields are still important to end up with a large crop, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

"While guessing at crop prospects before we see many tassels is always a little dangerous, we now have some idea about the physiological state of the crop as it enters the most critical yield-determining part of the season," Nafziger said.

Baling wheat straw has become a more common practice in the past few years for many reasons, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. While the uses for wheat straw are varied, removing straw has at least one common denominator: exporting nutrients out of the field.

Grocery stores across the United States have at least one thing in common: milk. However, other countries are not so lucky, said Bryan White, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences and researcher at the Institute for Genomic Biology.

"If you walk into any U.S. grocery store on any given day, you will find milk," White said. "But the rest of the world doesn't have that luxury. Sometimes they don't get any milk."

It is an understatement, thinks University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good, to say that last week's USDA estimate of June 1, 2011 corn stocks was a surprise to the market. At 3.67 billion bushels, the estimate was about 370 million bushels larger than the reported average trade guess.

Youth from across Illinois gathered at the University of Illinois Stock Pavilion to compete at the Illinois 4-H Horse Judging Contest on Tuesday, June 21. 4-H'ers from the age of 8 to 19 judged five classes of horses, including three halter classes and two performance classes.

With the release of USDA's June Grain Stocks and Acreage reports comes a fundamental shift in the corn market, suggesting that corn prices will come under considerable pressure, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

A discouraging number of waterhemp plants have survived applications of postemergence herbicides throughout the state, said University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager.

"During the past 10 days, we have experienced an increasing number of calls and inquiries describing a 'noticeable' percentage of plants surviving applications of glyphosate (at rates ranging from 0.75 to 1.5 lb ae/acre) in soybean," Hager said. "Many have indicated that within approximately 7 to 10 days after glyphosate was applied, it became obvious the plants would survive."

The earlier wheat harvest in Illinois, along with good soil moisture, has some growers thinking about trying doublecrop soybeans farther north than usual this year, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

"We have little data on planting soybeans this late in central Illinois, but with the good soybean price, it should take less than 10 bushels per acre to pay the cost of planting soybeans after wheat," he said. "We think that the chances of yields of 10 bushels or more are good, but there's no certainty this will happen."

A number of soybean fields are exhibiting a slight yellowing of leaves, and some growers are concerned that soybean might be in need of additional fertilization, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

Pork producers are maintaining the size of the breeding herd in the face of a very uncertain financial outlook. This cautious position is expected given the wide swings in both hog and feed prices evident this spring. In addition, little change should be expected in the hog herd until the feed supply situation is better known this fall, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

University of Illinois Extension specialists and researchers will share the latest findings in agronomic research at the 2011 Brownstown Agronomy Research Center Field Day hosted by the U of I Department of Crop Sciences on Thursday, July 28.

"Every cropping season presents unique challenges, and 2011 is no exception," said U of I Extension educator Robert Bellm. "Crop production research conducted at centers such as Brownstown is locally relevant to growers. The research represents the unique soil types and growing conditions in the area."

Excessive nitrates in surface waters from tile-drained areas have been associated with several health and environmental problems. The development of best management practices to reduce nitrate loads from drainage systems has driven much of drainage-related research over the past two decades. However, researchers have taken great care to concentrate on practices that will not adversely affect yields.

Concerns about the worldwide energy supply and national, environmental and economic security have resulted in a search for alternative energy sources. A new University of Illinois study shows Miscanthus x giganteus (M. x giganteus) is a strong contender in the race to find the next source of ethanol if appropriate growing conditions are identified.

URBANA - The corn market was surprised by the USDA's final 2011 corn production estimate and the estimate of Dec. 1, 2011 corn stocks. The March 2012 futures price declined by 52 cents per bushel in the two sessions following the release of the reports, said Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

At 9.642 billion bushels, Dec. 1 corn stocks were 425 million bushels smaller than those of a year ago and the smallest in five years, but they were about 240 million bushels larger than the average of the reported trade guesses, he said.

The University of Illinois Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) announces the upcoming Fourth Annual EBI Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference, "Focusing in on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2)," which will be held at the U of I I-Hotel in Champaign, Illinois on April 25, 2012. EBI's Biofuels Law and Regulation Project is sponsoring the Conference. The conference will focus on the multitude of issues related to the implementation of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), with sessions discussing:

- Current economic evaluations of the RFS2,

Most people have never felt the inside of a cow's stomach, designed flowers to music or created their own soil profile. Everyone will have the opportunity to do these things and learn more about the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at its ExplorACES event, March 9 and 10.

The two-day, student-run event, acquaints prospective and admitted ACES students with the college's faculty, curriculum and student organizations at more than 125 exhibits that showcase academics, research and student activities.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, "Although in December 2011, the USDA judged total corn production prospects in Argentina and Brazil at 3.54 billion bushels, that forecast was reduced by 120 million bushels in January and by an additional 160 million bushels earlier this month."

Diseases and weeds strike again and sweet corn yields are taking a beating. A recent University of Illinois study found that maize dwarf mosaic (MDM) and wild-proso millet have teamed up, and the pair are leading to to less than desirable results.

The Illinois Forage Institute will be held on Thursday, March 8, at the University of Illinois Orr Research & Demonstration Center/John Wood Community College, 37803 State Highway 104, Perry, IL located in Pike County. The educational program, beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding at 4 p.m., will focus on managing hay land and pastures. The program will also include commercial exhibits focusing on the forage industry.

In a worst-case scenario simulation of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Mexico, researchers found that establishing a good surveillance system and raising a more resilient breed of cattle could lessen the blow to the Mexican cattle industry should an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or other infectious disease occur.

When food prices spiked in 2008, the number of households that moved into poverty was overestimated by about 60 percent, according to a recent University of Illinois study. In middle-income countries such as Mexico that have more diversity in their diets, households are able to substitute other foods and cope with the change in prices.

"In 2008, there was a lot of quick-response research trying to measure the poverty effect across the world from the food price increase," said U of I agricultural economist Carl Nelson.

URBANA — Robert Easter, former dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), now interim vice-chancellor for research at the university, has received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

Bill Fisher, former manager of the U of I Imported Swine Farm and instructor in introductory animal sciences and production courses, was named the IPPA's 2012 Pork Promoter of the Year.

Sweet corn growers fighting troublesome weeds have a new reason for hope, suggests a recent University of Illinois study. Growers have few options to control several important weeds, but research shows that the environment in which the weed grows holds important clues to future management tactics.

URBANA - Buyers attending the 2012 Illinois Performance-Tested Bull Sale will find some of the most elite performance bulls offered anywhere in the seed-stock industry, said Dave Seibert, sale manager.

"This is verified by the past eight years in which only 90 percent of the nominated bulls made it into the sale catalog and only 64 percent were eligible for the IPT Bull Sale," Seibert said.

Looking for food, farmers, fisheries, farmers markets, wineries, and ag and marine tourism destinations located near you? Now you can use your smartphone to find them.

The 2011-12 corn marketing year is approaching the halfway point. "At this time of year," said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, "prospects for marketing-year consumption and ending stocks are often fairly clear and the market begins to focus more on new crop prospects. This year, consumption, stocks, and price prospects are far from clear."

Agriculturists around the world are invited to engage in a global food production discussion during the first International Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 27.

The U of I Department of Crop Sciences encourages producers from around the globe to participate in this unique forum bringing its nationally renowned faculty together to share the latest in agronomy, weed science, crop production, pest management, agricultural economics and more.

URBANA - Although beef supplies will be very short for several more years, the USDA's Cattle report indicates that the very early stages of beef cattle expansion have begun as beef heifer retention has increased a modest 1 percent, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension economist.

Feeder cattle producers are encouraged to optimize their opportunities and attend workshops focused on the future of Midwest cattle feeding. The meeting will be held March 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Ill.

Speakers from the University of Illinois, Iowa State University, the University of Nebraska, the Illinois Beef Association (IBA), Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), and Monsanto will highlight new cattle-feeding strategies, feedstuff choices and availability, and corn stover use and preparation as a feed.

URBANA - Since early October, corn prices have bounced in a wide trading range. March 2012 futures have traded between about $5.75 and $6.75 while December 2012 futures have been between about $5.35 and $6.20, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Amaranthus species are among the most troublesome weed species in agronomic production systems. Maintenance questions regarding this species have tended to focus on waterhemp. But Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist, said move over, waterhemp, Palmer amaranth is in town.

A panel of U of I specialists, including Hager, provided the most current information about crop production, pest management, and economics at the 2012 U of I Corn and Soybean Classic held on Jan. 12 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Ill.

New University of Illinois sweet corn research shows that higher yield and profitability are possible with greater plant populations of certain hybrids.

Although it's a common practice to study plant populations in field corn, U of I associate professor of crop sciences and USDA-ARS ecologist Marty Williams, said almost no research exists for determining the number of plants needed to optimize yield in processing sweet corn, which accounts for most of the U.S. sweet corn acreage.

The 2012 Illinois Small Fruit and Strawberry Schools will be held March 6 and 7 at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon, IL. The two-day school will include educational sessions on growing and marketing small fruit crops, including strawberries, in the Midwest.

The Illinois Performance Tested (IPT) Bull Sale was the lead-off event of the 2012 Illinois Beef Expo held on Feb. 23 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. The sale had the highest overall average in the 44 year history at $3,445 on 77 lots.

"This sale has developed into one of the largest performance-tested bull sales in the Midwest," said Dave Seibert, IPT sale manager. "During the past 44 years, the sale has sold 4,458 bulls valued at over 7.5 million dollars."

When faced with a choice between a deluge or a controlled deluge in May 2011 that would protect the city of Cairo, Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chose the latter by ordering an intentional breach of the Mississippi River levee at Bird's Point, but was it the right decision?

On Oct. 31, 2011, a new federal regulation requiring a permit for certain pesticide applications went into effect. Why should you care?

Because it applies to anyone who might spray chemicals, according to Extension educators David Robson and Michelle Wiesbrook of University of Illinois Extension's Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP).

Canada's response to the "milk wars" in the United States in the 1970s was to establish a supply management system that both protects and restricts the income of its dairy farmers. A University of Illinois study examined how the government regulation affects farmers' perceptions and found a climate of trust despite the inefficiency in milk production it maintains.

Celebrate the third annual National Teach Agriculture Day (NTAD) on March 15 with the University of Illinois's award- winning agricultural education program.

NTAD is an opportunity to inform people about agricultural education and its importance to the future of agriculture, said Amanda Corban, a junior in agricultural education.

Band fertilizer placement may cause non-uniform distribution in the soil. Why does this matter?

Because when fertilizer is unevenly distributed, it may not be possible to use traditional sampling strategies to measure whole-field fertility, said assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez. No recent published studies have looked at this problem.

Fernandez has conducted research to determine potassium and phosphorous distribution in no-till and strip-till soils and to develop improved sampling procedures for measuring field fertility.

Can we feed and clothe the growing world population while simultaneously preserving or improving ecosystem services and the natural environment? A recent study found that with the right partnerships, plant breeding will be essential for addressing challenges in agriculture.

The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is seeking nominees for the Outstanding Young Alumni Award and the ACES Family Spirit Award.

"ACES grads are setting high standards of achievement and service all over the world. Please let us know if you are aware of excellent candidates for these awards," said Tina Veal, ACES director of alumni relations.

The unusually warm temperatures of this past winter led University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good to look more closely at how average temperatures and precipitation relate to corn yield. He found that from 1960 to 2011 the correlation between average winter temperature and both average summer temperature and average state yield is small for Illinois and Iowa, the two largest corn-producing states.

The Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) program has been offered to Illinois livestock producers each year since 1997. Ted Funk, an agricultural engineer and Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has been the head of the program since its beginning.

Editor's note: A high-resolution digital file is available to use with this story at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/DNAlab

University of Illinois agricultural science education students are finding out what it is like to be a high school agriculture instructor in classrooms across the state.

Editors: This press release features University of Illinois students from Bluford, Ellis Grove, Frankfort, Ivesdale, Montrose, Paris, Penfield, and Rushville. A high-digital resolution photo is available for use with this press release at http://images.itcs.uiuc.edu/media/judgingteam2012/ .

The University of Illinois meat animal evaluation judging team was named national champion at this year's National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest held March 14-16 at Lincoln, Nebraska.

Ninety-five percent of the producers who participated in the regional 2012 Corn and Soybean Classic meetings last January said they planted a Bt hybrid in 2011. This very high use rate has been common for several years across Illinois in spite of low numbers of key insect pests such as the European corn borer and the western corn rootworm.

Editor's note: High-resolution digital files are available to use with this story at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/weeds

University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger says that almost nothing about the spring of 2012 in Illinois has been normal. Rainfall was below average over most of the state, with March temperatures breaking records on a record number of days.

Interest in using multiple modes of herbicide action in weed management programs is increasing, according to Aaron Hager, University of Illinois associate professor of weed science.

However, each component of a herbicide premix or tankmix with multiple modes of action is not necessarily effective for every weed or under all application conditions.

Weeds can be controlled prior to planting corn or soybean by using preplant tillage, herbicides, or both, according to Aaron Hager, associate professor of weed science at the University of Illinois.

Weed control may be improved when more than one active herbicide ingredient is included in the burndown application. Burndown applications often include growth-regulator herbicides, such as 2,4-D. Both amine and ester formulations of 2,4-D are labeled for preplanting burndown applications, but the ester formulation is usually preferred over the amine formulation.

Crop yield can be improved by ensuring adequate nutrient availability. But how should you place the fertilizer and what cropping system gives the best yields?

Research conducted by University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez, professor of crop sciences Emerson Nafziger, and graduate student Bhupinder Farmaha looked at how tillage, and phosphorus and potassium placement and rates, affected the distribution of soybean roots and the levels of water and nutrients in the soil.

Food safety begins with sound practices on the farm, especially with fresh vegetable and fruit produce that is eaten raw. Recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses involving both fresh and processed food products have heightened public concern about food safety. More consumers want to know how their food is grown and many fresh produce buyers now require their suppliers to have third party audits to verify safe food production and handling practices on the farm.

Learn about equipment for small farmers, soil fertility and getting your plants off to a good start, and biodynamics at a workshop organized by the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN).

New research from the University of Illinois sheds light on the nutritional value of whey powder and whey permeate as a lactose source for pigs.

"We wanted to determine the energy concentration and digestibility of phosphorus in whey powder, in conventional whey permeate, and in low-ash whey permeate because these values had not been determined," said Hans H. Stein, a U of I professor of animal sciences.

Producers will soon have a way to contact custom manure applicators, said Dale Baird, working with the University of Illinois Extension Certified Livestock Manager program.

With the breeding herd only 0.6 percent larger than a year ago, sow numbers stable, and the market herd reportedly 2 percent larger, the nation's pork producers are largely holding back on expansion even though the industry returned to profitability in the spring of 2011.

According to Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, large financial losses in 2008 and 2009 and uncertainty associated with higher feed prices due to crop damage in South America may be some of the reasons for the reduced profit outlook for 2012.

Researchers from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois now have access to a new high- performance computing (HPC) system.

"We've gone from needing small clusters to needing bigger and bigger ones," said associate professor of crop sciences Matt Hudson, "When I first got here, I had my own cluster in the closet downstairs. It was pretty reasonable. It had 20 nodes and did everything we wanted."

Mark your calendars for an opportunity to discover the latest findings in crop sciences during the 56th annual Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 16. "Agronomy Day is a great way for farmers, industry leaders, gardeners, and the general public to learn about new research in crop science and horticulture at the U of I," said Bob Dunker, agronomist and superintendent of the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center and chairperson for Agronomy Day.

As corn prices have declined substantially over the past week and the prospect is for relatively small ending stocks, a University of Illinois agricultural economist believes it is important to continue to monitor the rate of corn consumption to confirm that the necessary rationing is occurring.

Nothing tastes better than your home-grown produce — and nothing is more infuriating than finding out that you are sharing it with pests.

Editor's note: High-resolution digital files are available to use with this story at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/hagercorn.

University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager says that the below-freezing temperatures last week damaged some emerged corn in some parts of Illinois.

Soil-residual herbicides are important components of integrated weed management programs, according to University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager. "They can allow the crop to become established without weed interference and reduce the intensity of selection for weed biotypes resistant to particular foliar-applied herbicides," he said.

The spring migratory flight of black cutworm moths remained impressive across the state and the Corn Belt through mid-April according to University of Illinois professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray.

Insecticides known as neonicotinoids are used extensively across the Corn Belt according to University of Illinois professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray.

"This class of insecticide, which includes clothianidin and thiamethoxam, is widely used in the form of insecticidal seed treatments," he said. "Imidacloprid, another neonicotinoid insecticide, is used widely in urban and suburban landscapes to protect ornamentals from insect injury." Overall, these products are used extensively in both urban and rural settings and are a source of concern.

University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger is concerned about frost damage to early-planted corn from the low temperatures in central and northern Illinois during the second week of April. He estimates that most of the corn planted before April 1 was up and growing by the time it frosted, and the earliest-planted corn was at or close to the three-leaf stage and suffered the most damage.

"It's a bit challenging to write a single article that encompasses the possible weed management scenarios of a cropping season that currently ranges from emerged corn up to the five-leaf stage, with many fields not yet planted," said associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager. Here are a few items that might be of interest to weed management practitioners.

Editor's note: High-resolution digital files are available to use with this story at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/wheatvirus.

URBANA — According to University of Illinois plant pathologist Carl Bradley, wheat leaves displaying symptoms of virus infection, such as purple and yellow leaf tips or mosaic symptoms, have been observed in fields across the state.

Warmer than normal spring temperatures have accelerated the development of biennial weeds in pastures and along roadsides. "A problem that we would typically think about dealing with sometime in mid-May is rearing its ugly head now," said University of Illinois extension educator Robert Bellm.

The steady decline in prices over the past few months reflects, in part, expectations for a large 2012 U.S. corn crop and some rebuilding of inventories during the year ahead, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Good reported that the December 2012 corn futures reached a high of $6.735 on Aug. 31, 2011, declined to a low of $5.23 on March 30, 2012, and are currently trading near $5.40.

The 2012 Illinois Forage Expo will be held on Tuesday, July 10, hosted by Owen Brown, GFC Bale Band-It, 34273 210th Avenue, Pittsfield, Ill., located in Pike County. The Forage Expo will include field demonstrations of forage-harvesting equipment and commercial displays of forage-related products and equipment as well as educational sessions focusing on forage management.

It should be easy to bring food grown in Illinois to the plates of children in Illinois schools. Moreover, most consumers like the idea of eating local food.

However, less than 5 percent of the food consumed in Illinois is produced locally. Transportation costs account for 10 to 20 percent of what people pay for food.

State legislators have recognized this as a serious problem and passed the Illinois Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act in 2009. The act mandates that, by 2020, 10 percent of the food served in schools should be from Illinois farms.

Like corn, soybean planting has had an unusually early start in Illinois this year, with some of the crop planted before April 1 and 5 percent planted by April 22. Was this early planting advisable?

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) caused by the fungus Fusarium virguliforme has plagued soybean growers in Illinois since the 1980s according to University of Illinois plant pathologist Carl Bradley.

In Illinois, the disease first appeared in the southern part of the state but has since spread across the entire state. The fungus infects soybean roots very soon after planting.

The next Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN) workshop will feature a tour of Bane Family Meats and Rush Creek Farms, focusing on pasture management, animal health, and livestock production.

Jennifer and Andrew Miller of Rush Creek Farms will discuss pasture management, parasite management, preparing for kidding, and vaccinations for goats. They will also talk about their poultry production, which focuses on brown eggs.

"What a fantastic start to the 2012 season!" said University of Illinois plant diagnostic clinic and Integrated Pest Management coordinator Suzanne Bissonnette. Samples have already been arriving this spring here at the U of I Plant Clinic in its thirty seventh year of operation.

According to University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez, most of the nitrogen applied last fall is probably still in the soil. However, some fields are showing what appears to be a nutrient-deficient crop.

He said that, at the end of February, most of the nitrogen was still present, mainly in the ammonium form, in fields in central Illinois that received a late November application of 150 lb. of nitrogen per acre with NServe.

Average row spacing in Illinois soybean fields has increased over the past decade after narrowing for several decades before that, according to University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger.

This increase resulted from drilled soybeans — those with rows less than 10 inches apart — losing ground to 30-inch rows, which now occupy nearly one-third of the soybean acres. Just over 50 percent of Illinois soybean fields remain in 15-inch rows.

Kuipers Family Farm located near Maple Park will host the 2012 Summer Horticulture Field Day on Thursday, June 14. Wade and Kim Kuipers along with their three children, Tess, 19, Joe, 16, and Will, 14, will welcome growers to the 230-acre entertainment farm.

Illinois Pumpkin Field Day for 2012 will be held at the University of Illinois Vegetable Crops Research Farm in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday, September 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Illinois is the leading state in pumpkin production, growing and processing more than 90 percent of the processing pumpkins produced in the United States.

The following presentations will be given in the research plots:

Varieties (Charles Voigt, U of I, 217-333-1965 and Alan Walters, Southern Illinois University, 618-453-3446)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make $3.5 million in new funding available to help school districts organize and implement new Farm to School programs. These critical initiatives seek to educate children about where their food comes from and improve the quality of school meals. They also focus on improving local and regional food systems and creating new markets for local food producers.

The beef industry was stung by two negative events in the past two months that have left market traders uncertain about their longer term impacts. For now, market participants are taking a cautious approach until consumers more clearly define if they will reduce beef consumption.

In at least some places in Illinois, the wheat crop has been through heat, drought, floods, frost, and hail, all within the past six weeks.

While the crop-condition ratings have been high all spring -- 80 percent of the crop was rated as good or excellent at the end of April -- many people wonder if the crop can produce high yields following such unusual spring weather, including University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger.

The 2012 University of Illinois Weed Science Field Day will be held Wednesday, June 20, at the University of Illinois Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, which is located immediately south of the main campus. Beginning at 8 a.m., coffee and refreshments will be available under the shade trees near the Seed House, 2102 South Wright Street, Champaign.

Size matters when it comes to removing weeds from the corn crop.

"The smaller the weed, the better," said University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager. Proper timing of the application of postemergence herbicides provides the corn crop with the best opportunity to express its full genetic yield potential.

University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez has noticed visible signs of boron deficiency in alfalfa.

In Illinois, alfalfa is the crop most sensitive to boron deficiency. Corn and soybean have very low boron requirements, and boron toxicity can be a problem for corn if large amounts of the nutrient were applied to an alfalfa stand in the year prior to planting the corn.

Growers should begin scouting their emerging corn seedlings for signs of leaf feeding and cutting by black cutworms, according to coordinator of the Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Kelly Estes. Significant moth flights in late March and early April could have caused a significant presence of cutting-stage larvae in many areas of the state in the coming weeks.

According to a 2010 survey by the National Gardening Association, 43 million households grew their own fruits, vegetables and herbs, up 19 percent from 2009, and 21 percent of food gardening households were new to gardening.

"It is likely that the number of new vegetable gardeners has continued to rise since the 2010 survey," said University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Ron Wolford. "For somebody new to vegetable gardening, the glut of information can be overwhelming."

Here are a few tips to ensure a successful vegetable garden.

Corn prices have recently moved in three distinct patterns. These include the patterns for new-crop futures, old-crop futures, and old-crop cash prices, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

December 2012 futures reached a high of $6.735 on Aug. 31, 2011, and declined erratically to the current low of $5.15. The decline since the third week of April totaled about 50 cents.

When Elizabeth "Lisa" Ainsworth was working on her doctorate in crop sciences at the University of Illinois, she probably did not anticipate that she and her mentor would one day receive awards from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) at the same time.

With 89 percent of the Illinois corn crop planted by May 7, University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger thinks that the the 2012 crop is off to a good start.

In most fields, emerged stands are very good, and the warmer temperatures now are starting to bring leaf color back as growth accelerates. Exceptions to the favorable crop conditions are in areas that received heavy rainfall or hail over the past week.

Herbicide application restrictions exist for several reasons, but the most important is the fact that crop injury is more likely to occur if applications are made outside a specified growth stage or range, according to University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager.

Herbicide-resistant waterhemp populations will challenge weed management practices and practitioners during the 2012 growing season.

University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager said that the increasing occurrence of waterhemp populations that possess resistance to herbicides spanning more than one site of action further complicates management because the efficacy of multiple herbicides is compromised.

The 9th Annual Illini Dairy Classic Golf Outing will take place Friday, June 8, at noon at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy.

The Illini Dairy Classic Golf Outing supports the Illini Dairy Judging Team program and is open to judging team alumni, Illini Dairy Club members, and dairy industry friends. The cost is $80 per person or $300 for a team of four. Pre-registration is required and is due by June 1.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has already emerged this year. To determine if a tree has been attacked, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Martha Smith suggests the following steps.

The USDA's projections of U.S. and world corn and feed grain supply-and-demand conditions presented in the May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report set the benchmark by which the corn market will judge unfolding events. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, those events are continually unfolding, with some of the more important ones to be revealed this summer.

While soil temperatures were warmer than normal last winter, the dry soil conditions have resulted in very little nitrogen loss this spring.

According to assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez, soils in the state were dry at the beginning of autumn 2011, with above-average precipitation levels only during November and December.

During the past week, the number of observations and inquiries related to corn injury from herbicides increased, said University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager.

Instances of corn injury appear to be fairly widespread across the state. Direct application of postemergence herbicides and persistence of herbicides applied last season appear to be responsible for much of the injury.

Consumers have reason to celebrate the approach of June, which is Dairy Month, said a University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus.

"The cost of dairy products has dropped in many markets because the price paid dairy farmers has dropped 20 percent at the farm gate," said Mike Hutjens. "This lower farm milk price has led to 'good dairy buys' with milk available at $2.50 per gallon and butter at $2 a pound in selected markets."

June is the month that celebrates dairy production, dairy farmers, and dairy products, said Michael Hutjens, a University of Illinois professor emeritus of animal sciences.

"The dairy industry is big business in the United States with farm cash receipts totaling 31.4 billion dollars in 2010. This represented 10.2 percent of all farm cash receipts," he said.

University of Illinois professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray says that this year it is important to keep a watchful eye out for the twospotted spider mite, especially as we head into some very hot and dry weather in the near term.

"Because we are well ahead of schedule this spring regarding the occurrence of several pests, we should definitely scout for twospotted spider mites, particularly if we continue to have hot and dry weather," said Gray. "Let's hope we don't have issues with this pest in 2012."

Assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez thinks that, in the last few years, there has been a trend toward more micronutrient testing in the soil as well as in plant tissues.

In better-watered areas of Illinois where the corn crop is well established, the return of warm temperatures has caused very rapid growth. Corn planted in central Illinois in mid-March and not damaged by frost has accumulated about 900 growing degree days (GDD) by now and thus, has reached stage V9 or V10, the point at which stem elongation accelerates. Such fields will likely show tassels by mid-June. Corn planted in early April has accumulated about 650 GDD and is at V7. Corn planted in mid-April is at V5, having accumulated approximately 520 GDD.

Dry soil conditions across much of Illinois have contributed both to accelerated crop planting and to spraying with postemergence herbicides. "It is unusual at this point in the season that such a high percentage of corn acres have already been sprayed with postemergence herbicides," said University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager.

However, one potentially adverse consequence of the very dry soil is that large amounts of dust are often propelled into the air by equipment used to apply postemergence herbicides.

University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger was recently asked whether it is a good idea to plant soybeans into dry soil.

"It's a fairly common question, especially with soybeans, because they're more likely to be planted late, when soils are dry, and also because soybeans need to take on more water to germinate than corn seed does," he said. Soybean seed also does not draw water quite as strongly as corn seed does.

A recent report conducted by the University of Illinois provides an economic snapshot of the current state of the livestock industry, giving the Illinois livestock industry data to back up their importance to the state.

The data show the production sector of the industry contributing to more than 25,000 jobs and $3.5 billion to the state's economy. When combined with meat and dairy processing, the numbers are an even more impressive 99,000 jobs and $27 billion.

The 2012 U.S. average corn yield will be one of the dominant factors in determining the level of corn prices over the next year. Expectations about that yield have started at a pretty high level, but according to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, the critical period for yield determination is just beginning.

"The small percentage of the crop planted late this year suggests that the U.S. average yield will be higher than if a normal percentage had been planted late, but the level of yields is still to be determined," Darrel Good said.

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) celebrated excellence in achievement at the annual ACES Student Awards Banquet held April 21 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center.

Although nitrogen loss potential has been very low this year, people are asking University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez how much nitrogen they should apply at sidedress and what tools are available to determine the amount needed.

University of Illinois professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray usually gets the first reports of the emergence of adult western corn rootworm during the July 4 festivities.

However, on May 29, Joe Spencer, an entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, observed second instar corn rootworm larvae northeast of Urbana in his research plots. Spencer anticipates that the first beetle emergence will occur in approximately two weeks (June 11-12), which is very early.

The National Ag Statistics Service's weekly Crop Progress & Condition report gives a subjective estimate of the condition of crops each week during the growing season. University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger doubts that these early-season numbers are useful predictors of final yield.

University of Illinois associate professor and Extension specialist Tom Voigt says that he feels "fortunate and happy" to be involved in the Energy Bioscience Institute's research activities.

Voigt is a specialist in turf, landscape, and biomass grasses and is the principal investigator for EBI's Feedstock Production/Agronomy Program at the Energy Farm.

The wide soybean price swings reflect ever-changing supply-and-demand expectations, according to a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"November 2012 soybean futures reached a high of $14 in September 2011, declined to about $11.20 in December 2011, rebounded to almost $14 in early April and again in early May 2012, and traded to a low of $12.45 in the current trading session," Darrel Good said.

Historically, there has been little reason to worry about sulfur deficiency in Illinois, but University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez said that the frequency of sulfur deficiency in corn has recently increased.

Results of a preliminary experiment conducted at the University of Illinois indicate that it may be possible to select pigs that can make efficient use of energy in less expensive feed ingredients, thus reducing diet costs.

The International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) will be "Bridging the Past and Future 50 Years" at its annual conference June 24-28 in Burlington, Vt.

Able to trace its roots to a small but viable farm safety awakening in the United States during the late 1930s, ISASH incorporated in 1962 as National Institute for Farm Safety. Members voted last year to change the name to International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health to better reflect the needs of agriculture and the work of its membership.

The western corn rootworm season is progressing at an unprecedented pace, reports Professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray.

Reports of severe injury to Bt corn that expresses the Cry3Bb1 protein targeted against corn rootworms have come in from western Cass County. In 2011, similar reports of injury to Bt hybrids expressing this protein surfaced in other North Central states, particularly in Iowa.

Although much of the attention in crop markets is rightly focused on the potential size of the northern hemisphere crops, the ongoing pace of consumption is an important measure of demand strength and the likely level of year-ending stocks, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Following is Good's report focusing on the U.S. export sector for wheat, corn, and soybeans.

The ongoing evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds is a source of worry in Illinois, said University of Illinois professor of molecular weed science Patrick Tranel. He and research assistant Nick Hausman will be making a presentation on this topic during the 56th annual Agronomy Day at the U of I on August 16.

Do you have a corn nematode problem? Is your nematicide doing any good?

According to Plant Diagnostic Clinic and IPM coordinator Suzanne Bissonnette, unexplained yield losses or patchy areas of low productivity or vigor may indicate not a herbicide, nutrient, or environment issue but an established corn nematode population. A 2009-2010 survey supported by the U of I National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Extension Illinois Pest Management program showed that corn nematode populations were a bigger issue than had been previously thought.

Crop ratings continue to slide as the crop shows visible symptoms of drought stress in those areas that have received little rain over the past six weeks.

According to University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger, as of June 10 the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that the average crop height is a record-high 29 inches, but the corn crop is rated at only 56 percent good to excellent (G-E), and the soybean crop is at only 50 percent G-E.

The USDA will release the estimates of June 1 corn and soybean inventories on June 29. The level of those stocks will reveal the rate of consumption during the third quarter of the 2011-12 marketing year and the available supply for consumption during the fourth quarter.

The Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center will be hosting its summer Agronomy Day on July 10, 2012. Join University of Illinois Extension specialists and researchers as they address issues pertinent to the 2012 growing season. The program starts at 9:30 a.m. and will finish with a meal at 12:30 p.m. It is open to all who wish to attend and there is no admission cost.

Weather permitting, presentations will take place outside in the research plots. Field topics include:

- What does it take to produce high soybean yields? — Emerson Nafziger

University of Illinois agricultural engineers will be showing off a small-scale biomass gasifier at this year's Agronomy Day.

"The goal for our tour stop is to take some of the mystery out of the term 'gasification' and help producers and industry decide whether it fits in their view of the biomass energy supply chain," said agricultural engineering Extension specialist Ted Funk.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, U.S. soybean market fundamentals have been strong for an extended period of time. "The strong fundamental factors have included record large exports in 2009-10 and 2010-11 as Chinese demand expanded, a reduction in U.S. soybean acreage in 2011, a relatively low U.S. average yield in 2011, intentions to reduce U.S. acreage again in 2012, and a very small soybean harvest in South America this year," Good said.

Summer annual weeds in many soybean fields are almost 3 feet tall according to University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager.

1) The most common weeds include horseweed/marestail, common lambsquarters, and waterhemp. Hager said they may have escaped preplant tillage operations, preplant burndown herbicide applications, or

2) emerged following the last preplant tillage operation and before planting.

Recent precipitation has alleviated the extremely dry soils in parts of Illinois; other areas of the state continue to endure excessively dry conditions. University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager expects that weed growth will accelerate in areas that received rain, and the effectiveness of postemergence herbicides could be challenged in dry areas.

URBANA - The Illinois Milk Producers’ Association (IMPA) is sponsoring a dairy tech showcase on Tuesday, July 31. The conference will be hosted by dairy consultant and former extension specialist Dave Fischer and will highlight dairy technology at two Southern Illinois dairy farms. 

URBANA – The 2012 Agronomy and Horticulture Field Day, presented by the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences and U of I Extension, will be held on August 2 from 9 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, at Dixon Springs Agricultural Center. The Center is located 354 State Highway 145 near Glendale, 25 miles south of Harrisburg, Ill., and 25 miles north of Paducah, Ky.

Tours will start at 9 a.m. with the final tour leaving at 9:30 a.m. The tour will take approximately 2 and 1/2 hours and CCA CEUs will be available. A free lunch will be provided after the tour.

URBANA - Illinois and other major areas in the Midwest are watching thousands of acres of corn experience severe drought stress. Livestock managers are planning strategies to implement if timely rain does not arrive soon, according to Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor emeritus of animal sciences.

“Corn plants are firing (drying) from the roots up the stalk of the corn plant,” Hutjens said. “Some corn has tasseled, which may not pollinate, resulting in barren corn stalks (no ears). Other cornfields are in various stage of grow from 3 to 6 feet in height.”

URBANA – Owners of horses and small livestock will benefit from attending a workshop on best management practices for dealing with manure. The workshop will be held on Saturday, August 11 from 9 a.m. to noon at the University of Illinois Extension Ogle County office, 421 W. Pines Rd., Oregon, IL.


The purpose of the workshop is to share information on best management practices regarding neighbor-friendly manure storage, the science behind composting manure, simple composting techniques, and Illinois rules and regulations on manure storage and composting.

URBANA – The National Academies of Science recently released the 11th Revised Edition of The Nutrient Requirements of Swine, also known as the Swine NRC.

Hans Stein, professor of animal sciences at the University of Illinois, along with nine other swine nutritionists from universities and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, served on the committee that worked for 18 months to produce the new edition. The volume has been expanded to include 400 pages, 17 chapters, and detailed information on 122 feed ingredients.

URBANA -- Phosphorus is a vital nutrient for pig growth, but pigs do not always digest it well. Research conducted at the University of Illinois has determined how adding various levels of the enzyme phytase to the diet improves how pigs digest the phosphorus in four different feed ingredients. Improving phosphorus digestibility has positive implications for producers' bottom lines as well as for the environment.

URBANA -- Events that take place early in life almost certainly have consequences for later cognitive development. Establishing the connections is difficult, however, because human infants cannot be used as laboratory subjects.

Rodney Johnson and his collaborators have developed an alternative model for studying infant brain development. “Assistant professor Ryan Dilger and I became interested in establishing the neonatal piglet as a model of human brain and cognitive development 3 or 4 years ago,” he said.

Learn about exciting career opportunities in the agricultural industry, compete for scholarships, explore volunteer opportunities, and more at the 2012 National FFA Convention and Expo.

Join the College of ACES and Gamma Sigma Delta in celebrating scholarly excellence of their recent graduates. Faculty members will be in attendance to honor the graduates who will be recognized at the event.

The College of ACES is excited to welcome the newest addition of ACES students on August 27. Students will have the opportunity to meet faculty, administrators, and their classmates at the welcome party. Students will also have the chance to visit several Registered Student Organizations booths to learn more about getting involved on campus.  

Join the College of ACES to recognize the contributions of ACES faculty, staff, and graduate students through the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards.

URBANA – Many Illinois farms are starting to, or plan to, harvest drought-stressed corn, hoping to salvage it as livestock feed. University of Illinois beef extension specialist Travis Meteer answers some frequently asked questions.

Q: Do I need to test for nitrates?
A: Yes, elevated levels of nitrates have been well documented across the state. Cattle are valuable, and the test is inexpensive.

URBANA – As the weeks continue to pass without any significant rain in the Midwest, it is getting increasingly difficult to find feed for livestock, said University of Illinois assistant professor of animal sciences Dan Shike.

“It’s amazing that the poor pasture conditions got almost no media attention,“ he said. “They were in very poor condition even before the corn crop was, but it just doesn’t grab the headlines as much.”

URBANA – The trade in ivory was largely outlawed in 1989, but poaching continues and remains a serious threat to the African elephant. Seizures of large amounts of ivory, sometimes over a ton, continue to occur. Research by Alfred Roca, an assistant professor at the university, could be the basis for the development of new law enforcement tools.

The College of ACES welcomes the Professional Science Master’s students to the University of Illinois at orientation on August 23. The event will allow students to meet with peers faculty members, and others. The goals of this event are to foster networking and to help make the transition to graduate-level study smooth.

The College of ACES welcomes the Professional Science Master’s students to the University of Illinois at orientation on August 23. The event will allow students to meet with peers faculty members, and others. The goals of this event are to foster networking and to help make the transition to graduate-level study smooth.

 Join the College of ACES in welcoming the newest additions to the ACES faculty lineup.

Celebrate Illinois agriculture at the Illinois State Fair on Ag Day August 14. The Governor's Sale of Champions will auction off grand champion junior livestock including the barrow, steer, wether, poultry trio, and rabbit trio. In addition, the Commodity Auction will feature the best of Illinois processed food.

Website: http://www.agr.state.il.us/isf/events/AgDay.htm

The JBT banquet will recognize the 50 freshman JBT Scholars and the donors to the JBT Scholarship Program. Formal invitations are mailed in mid-October. RSVP’s are required and due to Sarah Adams no later than Tuesday, November 20, 2012. For more information please call 217-244-4540.

The 2012 Freshman JBT Scholars are asked to attend the JBT Freshman Welcome to meet their fellow 2012 JBT Scholars and our three JBT leaders, Ross Wilken, Anne Logisz, and Amelia Martens. Scholars are asked to please wear a nice top (men may wish to wear a shirt and tie) for a head shot that will be included in the printed program distributed to parents and donors at the JBT Banquet on November 30. Pizza and beverages will be provided. For more information please call 217-244-4540.

Experience one of the longest traditions at the University of Illinois. Join in on the celebration of lasting friendships, continuous learning, and looking toward the future of the U of I.

Take advantage of the opportunity to meet with professionals in your field at the 2012 ACES and Sciences Career Fair. The career fair provides agricultural companies and University of Illinois students the opportunity to network and share information about career and internship opportunities. The career fair opens at 1 p.m. and concludes at 5:30 p.m. Students must have their I-card to participate.

URBANA - This year the drought has put a lot of stress on cattle feeders. Because of low yields, many cornfields were harvested as silage for cattle feed. The current question is, how can silage be used best to keep costs down?

URBANA – A tsunami of red ink is about to wash across the pork industry, which is facing losses unseen even in the fall of 1998 when hog prices at times approached zero value. According to a Purdue University Extension economist, the stressors include:  more hogs than expected, rapid sow liquidation now under way, and record feed prices. Losses in the final quarter of this year could be $60 per head, exceeding the previous record quarterly losses of $45 per head in the fall of 1998.

URBANA - The distance education program SowBridge will begin its fifth year Nov. 7. University of Illinois animal science associate professor and extension swine specialist Rob Knox said suggestions from subscribers help maintain the program’s value.

URBANA –This year’s drought has brought numerous challenges to cattlemen. Shortages of grass and water forced cow culling and sent many calves to the sale barn earlier than planned. The most recent challenge cattlemen are facing is high feed costs combined with the possibility of aflatoxin in the corn crop.

URBANA – DNA extracted from the skins of koalas displayed in European and North American museums shows that a retrovirus has been a problem for the animals for much longer than was thought, according to Alfred Roca, an assistant professor of animal sciences at the University of Illinois, and Alex Greenwood of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (LZW) in Berlin.

URBANA – Fermented soybean meal (FSBM), considered a promising substitute for fish meal in weanling pig diets because of its protein content, lower cost, and lack of anti-nutritional factors, may have an additional advantage. University of Illinois researchers recently found that pigs digest the phosphorous in FSBM better than the phosphorus in conventional soybean meal.

"Most of the P in soybean meal is bound to phytate, so it's not available to pigs,” explained animal sciences professor Hans Stein.

URBANA – Pork producers are expected to continue to suffer very large losses in the next six months after already operating in the red for the last six. These large losses have been brought on by the extreme feed prices due to the drought.

URBANA -- University of Illinois microbiologists Isaac Cann and Roderick Mackie of the Animal Sciences Department at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) said that an $8 million, 5-year NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) grant just awarded to scientists working at the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the U of I, Baylor, and UC-Davis, is “building on an Illinois tradition” of multidisciplinary cooperation.

URBANA – For animals as well as people, diet affects what grows in the gut. The gut microbial colonies, also known as the gut microbiome, begin to form at birth. Their composition affects how the immune system develops and is linked to the later onset of metabolic diseases such as obesity.

Common wisdom is that cats, by nature carnivorous, are healthiest when fed high-protein diets. Researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to find out if this is true.

The theme of this year's Illinois Farm Economics Summit is "The Profitability of Illinois Agriculture: Managing in a Turbulent World." To assist producers in navigating these challenges, a series of five meetings are scheduled across Illinois in December sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

Dates and locations are:

* Monday, Dec. 12 --Champaign, I Hotel and Conference Center

* Tuesday, Dec. 13—Sycamore, DeKalb County Farm Bureau

* Wednesday, Dec. 14 --Galesburg, Best Western Prairie Inn

Producers contended with precipitation "extremes" in the 2011 growing season that could lead to herbicide carryover, said Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist.

"Wet soil conditions slowed spring planting and delayed applications of soil-residual herbicides in many areas, whereas particularly dry conditions were encountered across large geographic areas as the season progressed into July and August," he said.

As soil temperatures cool down, some growers will begin anhydrous ammonia applications in preparation for next year's corn crop. But are soils too dry this season?

"It doesn't take much moisture for ammonia (NH3) to react with H+ ions from water to convert to ammonium (NH4+)," said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. "The biggest concern should not be whether there is enough moisture in the soil to react with ammonia, but rather how moisture conditions impact the sealing of the ammonia knife track."

The 2012 University of Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics will mark the 15th year of this educational program related to crop production and pest management.

"The 2012 program emphasizes crop production, pest management, economics, and the interactions among them," said Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist. "Market updates will be provided throughout the day, and communication between speakers and participants is encouraged."

The dates and meeting locations for the 2012 Corn & Soybean Classics are:

URBANA - Following wide swings in September and early October, the prices of corn, soybeans and wheat have traded in relatively narrow ranges in the last half of October. Narrow trading ranges reflect the lack of new information and, in some cases, conflicting demand indicators, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"Since Oct. 12, December 2011 corn futures have traded in a range of about 40 cents, with a high near $6.65. That contract is now about $1.40 below the late August high," he said.

After about 15 years, faculty members in the Department of Crop Sciences have revamped the University of Illinois horticulture program to provide students with a flexible curriculum to suit their career goals.

The updated curriculum will be available to incoming freshmen and transfer students this fall. Associate Professor Gary Kling said "the proof was in the pudding" when almost every current student switched to the new curriculum last fall.

Farmdoc daily, a website designed to focus on "Corn Belt farm economics," has reached a unique milestone. The fledgling website, directed at the commercial agriculture sector, has published one original article of research-based analysis and information every business day since it was launched on March 17, 2011.

The Illinois Farm Bureau and University of Illinois Extension are sponsoring a "Meet the Buyers" event aimed at regional fruit and vegetable farmers.

With 2011-12 marketing year-ending stocks of U.S. corn expected to be near pipeline levels, the size of the 2012 crop has substantial price implications, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. Acreage intentions will be revealed in the USDA's March 30 Prospective Plantings report, but much of the current discussion centers on prospects for the U.S. average corn yield.

Reports of fields planted by mid-March in central and southern Illinois are coming in.

According to professor of crop sciences Emerson Nafziger, "Although there have been some fields planted this early in the past, this is the earliest we have ever had good planting conditions across so much of the state, and it's certain that we have never before had this many corn acres planted so early."

University of Illinois research reports that swine producers can feed distiller's dried grain with solubles (DDGS) to their pigs without concern for sulfur content.

"When you buy DDGS, you don't have to be concerned about the level of sulfur it contains because there doesn't appear to be any impact on pig performance," said U of I animal sciences professor Hans Stein.

According to the researcher, DDGS, a co-product of the ethanol industry, is used as a feed ingredient in diets fed to swine.

Insurance pest management, rather than integrated pest management, is becoming an increasingly common form of IPM in commercial corn and soybean fields.

How will the mild winter and record-breaking high temperatures in March affect insect survival and infestations in Illinois in the coming growing season?

According to professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray, it depends on whether the insect pests spend the winter in the Corn Belt or whether they migrate into the Midwest from more southerly latitudes. "Obviously, the survival of insects that migrate into Illinois during the spring and summer will not be affected by the mild winter," said Gray.

There are only a few new commercial herbicide products available for 2012, according to University of Illinois associate professor of weed science Aaron Hager. "One new active ingredient (pyroxasulfone) is included in the list, but no herbicides with novel sites of action," he said.

New products for this year are, by manufacturer, are:

BASF

Editor's note: Figures are available at the following link:

http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/horseweed

The mild winter and current above-normal air temperatures might impact weed management in 2012, according to Aaron Hager, associate professor of weed science at the University of Illinois.

Because of the unusually warm winter, may people who applied anhydrous ammonia last fall are concerned that they might have lost some of their nitrogen, according to University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez.

"Nitrogen transformations and losses depend on many variables and complex interactions," said Fernandez, "including soil temperature, time of fall-nitrogen application, use of a nitrification inhibitor, rate of biological activity, drainage, amount and frequency of rain, and soil type."

University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger is pleased to announce that, thanks to a recent agreement among the parties involved, the Illinois Agronomy Handbook is available online at http://extension.cropsci.illinois.edu/handbook

Most of us associate flowers and fruits with the warm months, but Plant Care Facilities (PCF) coordinator Nathan Deppe says horticulture projects are going on all year at the University of Illinois. In fact, research specialist Chuck Voigt organizes an Annual Herb Day in January because "gardeners are getting really itchy, herb gardeners particularly."

Voigt does his work on herbal plants in the 2E range of Turner Hall greenhouses. "I keep stock plants of a lot of cultivars of different herbs," he said. "I have lots of rosemary, lots of thyme."

The public is invited to an on-farm tour to view field research plots and discuss strategies for managing herbicide-resistant weed populations. The field tour, to be held on July 24 will feature presentations from University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, and University of Tennessee weed scientists. The speakers and discussion topics are:

- Larry Steckel (University of Tennessee) -- How herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth has changed farming practices in the mid-South, and why herbicide-resistant waterhemp potentially could do the same thing in the Midwest.

When D.K. Lee and Lane Rayburn, faculty members in the crop sciences department at the University of Illinois, talk about prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) they have difficulty containing their enthusiasm. They are among the very few people doing research on this grass as a potential energy crop.

Wednesday, July 18, has been set as the date for the 31st annual Field Day at the University of Illinois's Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth, and the program has been finalized. The first tour will leave at 8 a.m., and the last tour will depart at 9 a.m. Each tour will take about two hours to complete.

A 150-foot-high garbage dump in Colombia, South America, may have new life as a public park. Researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated that bacteria found in the dump can be used to neutralize the contaminants in the soil.

With much of Illinois suffering from abnormally dry to severe drought conditions, the current risk of corn foliar diseases is low in most of the state.

University of Illinois plant pathologist Carl Bradley said that, although foliar fungicides are touted as increasing corn yields, these effects have not been observed consistently in U of I trials when foliar disease pressure is low.

During the later stages of June and early July, it will become increasingly important to monitor corn and soybean fields for some important pests warned professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray.

"For many areas of Illinois, the dry and hot weather makes this recommendation even more important because crops are increasingly vulnerable to yield loss under these stressful conditions," he said.

Potassium deficiency symptoms are developing in corn and soybean crops in many parts of the state according to University of Illinois assistant professor of crop sciences Fabian Fernandez.

Many farmers are observing this phenomenon for the first time. Conducting nutrient-deficiency diagnostics for crops based solely on visual symptoms is not always easy, but potassium deficiency symptoms are very distinct for corn and soybean.

(PLEASE NOTE: The URL given in the article this morning was incorrect. I apologize for any inconvenience.)

Learn about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at a tour organized by the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN).

The tour will be hosted by Zach and Annie Metzger of Samara Farm. They will discuss harvest, storage, handling, pricing, and marketing in a CSA context during this twilight tour.

The first sequencing of the Asiatic pear genome has recently been completed by an international consortium of seven worldwide universities and institutions including the University of Illinois.

"Our role on the team was to work on the strategy for sequencing, analyzing the data, understanding some of the biological processes, and writing the manuscript," said U of I plant molecular geneticist Schuyler Korban, whose lab was involved in a consortium that previously sequenced the woodland strawberry genome.

University of Illinois researchers identified the top pathogens, pests and weeds affecting soybean production in a recent article in Food Security. Soybean aphid, soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode, Sclerotina stem rot and the exotic pathogen, red leaf blotch, were featured as some of the top biotic constraints that may affect soybean production now and in the future.

The 30th annual field day at the University of Illinois's Northwest Research Center (NWRC) in Monmouth will take place on Wednesday, July 20. Tour speakers will begin at 8 a.m., with the last tour departing at 9 a.m. Each tour takes about two hours to complete.

Jason Emmert, assistant dean of academic programs at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), was recognized with the Honorary State FFA Degree on June 10 at the final session of the Illinois FFA State Convention. The convention was held June 8-10 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

Recent University of Illinois research confirms that the swine industry has come a long way in the past 10 years to improve pig transportation and handling. In this study led by graduate student Chad Pilcher, researchers discovered that an optimum allocation of floor space per pig during transport and a longer journey time allow pigs to better handle transportation stress.

A large number of factors have contributed to the higher prices of corn and other commodities over the past year. The beginning of the price increase can be traced to the USDA's forecast of 2010 corn planted acreage and the estimate of June 1 corn stocks released on June 30, 2010, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

University of Illinois Plant Clinic diagnosticians have welcomed a larger-than-normal number of injured plants this season. Michelle Wiesbrook, U of I Extension specialist in pesticide safety education, said the symptoms she has seen this season can be caused by a number of factors, including chemical injury. She offers a few tips to avoid and handle these injuries to plants.

Injury Prevention

While the corn crop is planted and emerged in most Illinois fields, damage from both standing water and dry soils are causing stress to the crop in places across the state, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger.

Many questions are crossing grower's minds regarding nitrogen (N) application. However, with this season's variability in precipitation, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said those are difficult questions to answer generally.

He said the most practical approach to determining whether additional N is needed is to perform strip N applications in a field to see if there is a response in growth or level of greenness due to N.

Commercial kitchens are required to meet certain health standards to help protect consumers from food-borne illnesses, but what about preventing potential health risks before it even reaches the marketplace? That's the focus of a USDA training program called Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). A GAP workshop on food safety will be offered on Wednesday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Westchester, IL., hosted by the University of Illinois Extension.

In the monthly report of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), the USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) reduced the forecast of U.S. planted and harvested acreage of corn and rice. Forecasts for the other major crops were not changed from the forecasts in the March Prospective Plantings report, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Potato leafhoppers are active and alfalfa should be scouted for these insects capable of inflicting economic losses to stands, reports Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

"I received a report yesterday that potato leafhoppers have reached densities of 1.0 per sweep in some stands of alfalfa measuring 4 to 7 inches located in southwestern Illinois near Greenville in Bond County," Gray said. "When alfalfa is 6 to 12 inches in height, a density of 1.0 leafhopper per sweep has the potential to cause economic losses."

4-H has the opportunity to get a specialty license plate in Illinois. It has been approved by the Illinois general assembly and the governor. Now, it needs community support—specifically from Illinois drivers.

The Secretary of State will begin production of a 4-H Specialty License plate only after receiving a financial contribution of $25 from 1,500 Illinois drivers — that is anyone who has a current license plate on file with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Do you think you have a resistant waterhemp population? If so, send your waterhemp samples to the University of Illinois for a free screening. The Illinois Soybean Association is providing funding for the 2011 growing season to test Illinois waterhemp samples for resistance to glyphosate, PPO inhibitors and ALS inhibitors.

Forage producers should plan to attend the 2011 Illinois Forage Expo on Thursday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Pope County.

Attendees will learn about the latest research findings in forage management through educational sessions and field demonstrations of forage harvesting equipment.

With heat indexes soaring over 100 degrees this week, livestock need to be closely monitored to prevent health and production problems, said Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension specialist in agricultural engineering.

"Dairy cows will especially be impacted by a hot week," Funk said. "If producers don't anticipate problems in hot weather, cows could go off feed, produce less milk and even experience reproductive failure."

Funk said there are three priorities dairy producers should focus on — shade, air flow and water.

Although the yield potential of the 2011 U.S. corn and soybean crops has been reduced due to a large percentage of the acreage being planted after optimum dates for maximum yield potential, the actual yield outcome for these crops will be determined by weather conditions over the next three months, said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

It's human nature to worry about not "measuring up" to our neighbors, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. However, he said just because your neighbor is taking action to prevent nutrient problems that may or may not occur this growing season is not a good reason for you to jump on board.

Fernandez shares a quick course in secondary macronutrients and micronutrients to help growers determine what they should and should not worry about when it comes to nutrient deficiencies in their fields.

It's inevitable when corn and soybean acreages remain unplanted on June 1 to hear the question, "When is it too late to plant?" Although prevented planting insurance changes things, there's no "drop-dead" date for planting, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger.

Instead, he said growers need to consider what yields they can expect as planting stretches into June. Using this information, they can decide at what point yield levels and added costs of planting will make the crop less profitable than collecting insurance.

Properly timing the application of postemergence herbicides is critical, said Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist. Recent precipitation, coupled with warm temperatures, will result in rapid growth of emerged weeds and possible reductions in corn yield if weeds persist too long.

Prices of corn, soybeans and wheat continue to move erratically, reflecting both new information and the lack of some information, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"The markets are supplied with a steady flow of data on consumption in some markets, particularly the export markets and the ethanol market. Less frequent information is available about consumption in other markets, particularly the domestic feed market," said Darrel Good.

Sudden Needle Drop (SNEED) caused by Setomelanomma holmii has been discovered for the first time in Illinois. The University of Illinois Plant Clinic has diagnosed spruce samples from both central and northeastern Illinois.

"While SNEED has been found in several surrounding states, this is a first find in Illinois," said Suzanne Bissonnette, director of the U of I Plant Clinic. "We are pursuing independent identification since this is a first find as well as proceeding with qPCR analysis for verification."

URBANA — For those who farm row crops in most counties in the Midwest and upper Midwest, May 31 or June 5 is "decision day." Farmers must decide whether to plant row crops or take the prevented planting payment from their crop insurance policy. University of Illinois agricultural economist and farm management specialist Gary Schnitkey has provided calculations to help farmers choose the option with the best net return.

In the mad rush to finish up what has been a challenging corn planting season, speed often takes priority over attention to detail, said Robert Bellm, University of Illinois Extension crop systems educator.

"This is especially true when it comes to crop scouting," Bellm said. "When thousands of acres need to be covered in a very short time frame and the late planting date leaves little opportunity to replant a damaged, less than optimum stand, many growers tend to err on the side of caution and apply pest control measures at the earliest sign of a problem."

When crop prices are high, interest increases in selling additional products or services, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. More often than not, he said, these products and services do little to nothing for the crop.

With soybean planting proceeding at a rapid pace, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager said there's a great likelihood that fields were planted before soil-residual herbicides could be applied.

"If soybean have not yet emerged, it is possible that the application could proceed as originally planned," Hager said. "However, if a certain number of days have elapsed since planting or if soybean have begun to emerge, proceeding with the planned application is dependent upon the respective herbicide."

Each June the dairy industry celebrates Dairy Month and promotes the importance of milk production, the nutritional value of dairy products, and the economic impact of the $110 billion dairy industry to the United States.

"Dairy managers will be challenged in 2011-2012 to remain economically viable as feed and fuel prices increase," said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus. "They will need to find ways to produce milk at an economical price for consumers while maintaining the highest quality milk possible."

Midwest dairy managers continue catching up economically after a disastrous 2009 and 2010 business year, said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus.

"Illinois milk producers need $17.00 per 100 pounds to cover feed, variable, fix, and labor costs with a modest return on assets," Hutjens said. "Currently, milk prices have been favorable, but dairy managers need a full year of these margins to replace lost equity in 2009-2010."

Several factors will be critical to maintain a successful 2011 dairy business model.

Two weeks ago, corn prices were declining rapidly, and experts pondered the likelihood of a recovery similar to those of September 2010, November 2010 and March 2011. The answer came quickly, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"By May 23, July 2011 futures traded within 14 cents of the contract high, and December 2011 futures traded within 7 cents of the contract high on May 19," Good noted.

Except for heavy rains in some areas, spring weather has been decent for the Illinois wheat crop. But crop ratings continue to be rather mediocre, with less than half the crop rated as good or excellent as of May 15, reports Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

Corn producers across southern and central Illinois counties should be scouting their emerging corn seedlings for any signs of leaf feeding and cutting by black cutworms, reminds Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

Gray said flights of black cutworm moths during the first two weeks of April could result in cutting-stage larvae in these areas of the state.

Soybean planting lags this week as many growers finish planting corn throughout the state, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist. But good progress is expected in many areas this week. Though the penalty for planting late was unusually large in 2010, most past research indicates that yield losses from planting in late May tend to be relatively modest.

Illinois farmers doubled the amount of corn planted last week, moving from 34 percent planted on May 8 to 69 percent planted on May 15. However, the temperature roller-coaster continues, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

"With highs in the 80s or 90s for a few days during the second week of May, but with highs only in the 50s in much of the first and third weeks of May, daily growing degree day accumulations to date are lower than normal," he said. "Hopefully, warm days in the next two weeks will get us back to normal by the end of the month."

The bottom line is that 2011 is likely to be a profitable year for farmers. Determining just how profitable involves a complicated equation that includes number of bushels per acre, price per bushel, level of Revenue Protection (RP) and hedging. An issue of University of Illinois Farm Economics Facts and Opinions looked at some of the possible scenarios to help farmers juggle the numbers and the risk.

"Most people are buying Revenue Protection insurance products," said U of I agricultural economist and farm management specialist Gary Schnitkey.

As corn planting progress accelerates in many areas of Illinois this week, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager said it's possible that some fields were planted before a planned soil-residual herbicide could be applied.

If the corn has not yet emerged, Hager said the application can proceed as originally planned. But what if the corn has begun to emerge and the soil-residual herbicide has not yet been applied? Can the application go on as planned, or will a different product need to be selected?

Cow-calf producers are encouraged to attend the second annual Southern Illinois Beef Conference on Thursday, July 14, in the Applied Science Center at Rend Lake College, Ina.

This conference will provide practical, reliable and relevant beef production information from university experts. Producers will also have the opportunity to network with other beef producers to share successes and challenges.

Rebecca Atkinson, a Southern Illinois University animal scientist, will discuss the use of distillers grains in cow-calf operations.

Join researchers at the 2011 University of Illinois Weed Science Field Day on June 29 at the U of I Crop Sciences Research and Education Center in Urbana. Crop enthusiasts can participate in an informal guided tour to view research plots while interacting with weed science faculty, staff and graduate students.

"You can compare your favorite corn and soybean herbicide programs to other commercial programs and get an early look at some new herbicide active ingredients," U of I Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager said.

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) agricultural education students were named the Collegiate Teach Ag Day Contest winners for the second consecutive year.

A new tool is available to select for soybean rust resistance in breeding populations, said Glen Hartman, University of Illinois professor of crop sciences and USDA-ARS scientist. Hartman and his team of researchers successfully used quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR) assays to assess fungal DNA in soybean leaf tissue to quantify the level of resistance in individual plants with resistance to soybean rust.

The USDA's report of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) released on May 11 refocused the market's attention on world crop production and the implications for rebuilding U.S. and world stocks, said a University of Illinois economist.

"The report reflects prospects for some modest increase in world feed grain stocks and prospects for maintaining world wheat and soybean stocks. However, substantial uncertainty remains," said Darrel Good.

Wet soil conditions this spring are causing growers to question nitrogen (N) levels present in their soils and how that will affect this year's crop. Fabian Fernandez , University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said when soils become saturated, the potential for N loss is directly related to the amount of N present in the nitrate (NO¬3-) form.

Questions are surfacing about the impact of late planting on key insect pests of corn and soybeans, said Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist. Based upon the progress of planting this spring, Gray said he can understand the interest. Western corn rootworms

Western corn rootworm larvae typically begin to hatch during Memorial Day weekend celebrations. Above-normal temperatures for the remainder of May could accelerate this time line, Gray said. In general, late planting tends to reduce the likelihood of economic infestations of corn rootworms.

Most vegetable growers understand the importance of soil fertilizers and are applying them. But some may not realize the importance of applying starter fertilizers when the weather is wet and cold.

"Spring is an ideal time to consider applying a starter fertilizer with all your plantings," said Mosbah Kushad, University of Illinois professor in the Department of Crop Sciences.

Corn prices may have difficulty rebounding from the current decline if the USDA increases the projection of year-ending stocks, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"The corn market has been the poster child for the sharp increase in agricultural commodity prices that began last summer and extended into the spring of 2011. Higher corn prices were driven by a combination of shortfalls in crop production, including the U.S. corn crop and strong demand," he said.

The latest research information on issues concerning the dairy industry will be presented at the 2011 Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference on June 8 and 9 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

This conference is a collaborative effort of the Extension services of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa.

With only 10 percent of the Illinois corn crop planted by the end of April, growers are facing one of the slowest starts in recent years, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist. Of this 10 percent, about half was planted the first week of April and half the second week of April. Planting came to a halt in mid-April, and many fields remain wet today.

As the demand for local, sustainably grown food continues to rise, farmers and aspiring farmers are working to meet the demand through the creation of small-scale farm businesses.

To encourage the continued growth of these entrepreneurial farm enterprises and address the needs of a new generation of aspiring farmers, the University of Illinois Extension and The Land Connection are collaborating to host the workshop Is Entrepreneurial Farming for You?

The workshop will be offered at three locations in Central Illinois in late June and early July.

As the use of biotechnology increases and more companies move forward with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's approval to begin full-scale commercialization of seed mixtures in transgenic insecticidal corn, many researchers believe pest monitoring will become even more difficult.

It's decision-making time again for farmers, and the recent wet weather only complicates these issues. Should I delay planting corn? If I do, how will that decision affect the yield later? Should I consider switching from corn to soybeans?

A new spreadsheet entitled Planting Decision Model has been developed on the University of Illinois farmdoc website to provide some answers for farmers, according to agricultural economist and farm management specialist Gary Schnitkey.

Reports of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) continue to make headlines throughout Illinois. After the first confirmation of this invasive insect was reported in the fall of 2010 in Cook County, additional reports have continued in 2011.

In January, a homeowner reported an infestation in their home in Kane County, and just a couple of weeks ago, homeowners in McLean County and Champaign County each submitted a single specimen for identification. Reports continue to circulate in northeastern Illinois.

Cook County Farm Bureau, University of Illinois Extension and Illinois Farm Bureau will present a workshop entitled "Farming Fundamentals" on Saturday, June 11, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Cook County Farm Bureau building in Countryside.

"The workshop is intended for those who may be thinking about establishing a farming business," said Extension Educator Ellen Phillips. "The program is designed to provide the essential base for someone who wants to begin producing food or fiber for direct marketing in an urban environment."

As expected, corn and soybean prices continue to move erratically in a very wide range. Just in the past week, both May 2011 corn and soybean futures had a 56-cent trading range. As the markets make the transition from old-crop to new-crop dominance, a lot of factors are influencing price expectations, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

Wet soil conditions are causing concern for anhydrous ammonia application this spring, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

Anhydrous ammonia is the most widely used nitrogen fertilizer source in Illinois. In order for this fertilizer to be effective, good soil moisture conditions are necessary, Fernandez said.

Ideal soil conditions are around 15 to 20 percent moisture. Within these moisture levels, a fine-textured soil, such as silty clay loam, feels slightly moist.

As the planting delay lengthens, many growers are wondering if they should switch crops from corn to soybean, and if they should change corn hybrids from earlier to later ones.

"We're ahead of the rest of the Corn Belt, but with only about 10 percent planted in April, it's a disappointing start after the dry weather in early April," said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

The University of Illinois Plant Clinic is opening its doors for the 2011 season on Monday, May 2, with new leadership and the same quality services, recommendations and education it has been known for over the years.

Continuing rainfall in southern Illinois has literally created the "perfect storm" for one of the most devastating diseases of wheat — Fusarium head blight (FHB or scab), said University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist Carl Bradley.

If you haven't noticed them yet, you soon will. Biennial thistles will become more evident along roadsides, rights-of-way, waste areas, and pastures in the next few weeks, said University of Illinois Extension crop systems educator Robert Bellm.

Numerous biennial thistles grow in Illinois, including plumeless thistle, bull thistle, Flodman thistle, and tall thistle. However, the most common biennial thistle found here by far is the musk thistle, also referred to as nodding thistle because of the way its flowers often bend over or "nod" toward the ground, he said.

Wet field conditions are doing more than delaying corn planting across much of Illinois; they are creating substantial growth of various weed species. Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist, offers suggestions for improving the performance of preplant weed control tactics.

"Preplant tillage operations can effectively control existing vegetation while preparing a seedbed," Hager said. "However, as weeds become larger, the effectiveness of tillage to control weeds before planting can be reduced."

Cattle prices have had a remarkable run to the upside with finished steers reaching the low $120s per hundredweight in early April. Now there are signs that those lofty prices will not be maintained into the spring and summer, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension economist.

"It is the strength of demand that has been the driver of higher cattle prices, not supply. So far in 2011, beef production has been 1 percent higher as a result of both a few more head and higher weights. Exports have been an important demand stimulant," he said.

Don't be lulled into complacency when using transgenic hybrids this season and assume complete protection against intense populations of black cutworm, said University of Illinois Extension entomologist Mike Gray. A stormy April across much of Illinois has led to numerous reports of black cutworm moth captures in pheromone traps.

Large infestations of wireworms in two separate Massac County fields have been reported this spring, said University of Illinois Extension entomologist Mike Gray.

"Ron Hines, an independent crop consultant in southern Illinois, has reported large infestations of wireworms in two separate fields devoted to no-till corn production in 2010," Gray said. "Ron placed wireworm bait stations in both fields and after digging up the baits, detected an average of 35 wireworms per trap."

The University of Illinois is providing free workshops to help grape growers prepare for the upcoming growing season. The Northern Illinois Spring Vineyard Tune-Up Workshops will be led by Bill Shoemaker, superintendent at the University of Illinois St. Charles Horticulture Research Center and viticulturist with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association.

Old-crop corn prices declined sharply in the first half of March as it appeared that high prices had sufficiently slowed the rate of consumption. However, a continued high rate of ethanol production, a resurgence of export sales and larger livestock inventories provided evidence that consumption had not slowed, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

The sustainability of the beef industry continues to be a real issue in agriculture today. Will the industry be able to survive high feed and land prices? A $5 million USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant has been awarded to a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from eight institutions to develop DNA-based technology to predict genetic merit for feed efficiency.

With high-quality alfalfa capturing premiums of nearly $50 a ton, it's time for producers to start measuring their alfalfa in order to determine the best time to harvest the first cutting, said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus.

"There is a science to harvesting quality alfalfa hay," Hutjens said. "It starts with a good, old-fashioned yardstick and a trip to the field, and ends with a little work on the Internet."

While the general economy has underperformed in the past several years, the crop farming sector has been not just stable, but profitable. A recent University of Illinois report comparing the returns from publicly traded companies from 2007 until the end of the first quarter of 2011 showed an 8.6 percent market value increase from agriculture-related companies and companies in the S&P 500 experienced a decline of 2.7 percent.

If you are starting to see purple in the fields, don't worry. Your eyes aren't fooling you. Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist said several winter annual weed species have begun to flower early this spring.

The large amount of tillage done last fall, and the good soil conditions even where no fall tillage was done, raise questions of how much tillage is needed this spring. While many producers are doing spring tillage as usual, others are thinking that this may be the year to do less, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

Nafziger said there are two fundamental reasons to do (or not do) tillage.

Mark your calendars for an opportunity to discover the latest findings in crop sciences during the 55th annual Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 18.

"Agronomy Day is a great way for farmers, industry leaders, gardeners and the general public to learn about new research in crop science and horticulture at the U of I," said Bob Dunker, superintendent of the U of I South Farms and chairperson for Agronomy Day.

The USDA's monthly update of prospective supply and demand for U.S. corn and soybeans released on April 8 contained some changes from the March report, but reaffirmed the tightness of supply, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"For corn, the USDA increased the projection of use for production of ethanol and byproducts by 50 million bushels, to a total of 5 billion bushels. The increase is consistent with the current pace of use and the strong economic incentive for ethanol consumption provided by high gasoline prices," he said.

Jozef Kokini's description of the ways nanotechnology can be utilized in food science and agriculture is reminiscent of the 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage in which a specially designed nuclear submarine and a team of researchers are miniaturized and injected into a patient's bloodstream. But Kokini is talking about real science, not fiction.

Management-level professionals in the pork industry now have the opportunity to strengthen their leadership and business skills through a two-year certificate program uniquely tailored for their needs.

Increasing corn prices and lowering milk prices are causing dairy producers to think twice about what they feed their cows this spring.

"Dairy farmers can't afford to take cows off feed now because it takes too long to bring them back into full production," said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus. "The good news is that dairy cattle have an advantage because they can utilize forages and byproduct feeds. The bad news is that the price of corn increases the price of alternatives as well."

Wheat streak mosaic virus has been confirmed in southern Illinois, reports University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist Carl Bradley. He said he has received several reports of similar symptoms in wheat fields across the state.

Symptoms of wheat streak mosaic appear on the leaves as mottling or yellow streaks that run parallel with the veins. General yellowing and stunting may also occur in plants affected by wheat streak mosaic.

"This virus is transmitted by the wheat curl mite, and infection likely occurred last fall," Bradley said.

Recent changes in weed spectrums and an increasing frequency of weed populations resistant to glyphosate have heralded a shift back to the use of soil-residual herbicides, especially in soybean, said University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager.

Illinois growers can obtain accurate and unbiased evaluations of insect control products and management strategies though the University of Illinois Insect Management and Insecticide Evaluation Program.

"Over the years, we have conducted numerous trials investigating management tactics for the control of insect pests in field corn, sweet corn, soybean and alfalfa," said Ron Estes, U of I senior research specialist in agriculture. "Every year, we summarize the data from these trials in an annual report published on our on Target website."

Despite popular belief, corn growers should not worry about the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the soil when determining how much anhydrous ammonia to apply, said University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

"A false concept has been circulating this winter that anhydrous ammonia applications should not exceed 10 pounds of nitrogen per unit of CEC," Fernandez said. "This concept has no scientific foundation."

Soil conditions in Illinois are among the best ever seen during the first week of April, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger. But the question remains: should we plant corn early when the soil is still cold?

Nafziger said yes, but with a few cautions.

For Maria Villamil, being the tenth of 11 children born to a middle-class Latino family in southern Argentina carried certain expectations. Like her sisters and friends, she was expected to get married and have children. But she believed she could accomplish other dreams, too. Unfortunately, going after her dreams meant leaving family and friends behind.

URBANA - The USDA's March 1 Grain Stocks report revealed a surprisingly small inventory of corn, said a University of Illinois Extension agricultural economist.

"The smaller-than-expected inventory implies that consumption during the second quarter of the 2010-11 marketing year was larger than expected. It appears that consumption is progressing at a rate that cannot be sustained by available supplies," said Darrel Good.

The College of Engineering and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, announced the Investiture of Professor Yuanhui Zhang as the Innoventor Professor in Engineering. The ceremony was held at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 4, 2011 at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

When soybean rust first appeared in the United States in late 2004, many producers feared devastating yield losses similar to losses experienced in other parts of the world. In response to this threat, researchers have been evaluating USDA soybean germplasm accessions for resistance to this fungus, and a recent report in Crop Science identifies some of these resistant sources.

The Department of Crop Sciences in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is part of a multidisciplinary team representing 18 institutions that has been awarded a $9.28 million grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

This team, led by scientists at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is focused on developing new disease management technologies to improve the sustainability of soybean production.

The highest hog prices on record will soon be arriving, said a Purdue University Extension economist.

"These may be the highest hog prices for the next several years as well, especially if corn and soybean shortages can be reduced somewhat this summer with favorable growing conditions. On the other hand, if 2011 turns out to be a short crop production year, then the previous statement will be invalid as surging feed prices will force added liquidation of the hog herd this fall. But you already knew how much was riding on upcoming crops," said Chris Hurt.

University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Organic Growers Association will host a Sustainable/Organic Growers meeting to promote networking and discussion among farmers and producers in northern Illinois on Monday, June 20, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Willow Creek Organic Farm in Steward, Il.

The 2010 season was a disappointing one for corn growers in many parts of Illinois, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger. With a statewide average yield of only 157 bushels per acre, just 4.2 bushels higher than the U.S. average, and the third-worst yield in the past decade, many Illinois producers are hoping for a more bountiful 2011.

More than 90 percent of participants in the 2011 Corn and Soybean Classics said they planted transgenic (Bt) corn in 2010, and 94 percent plan to plant it in 2011. However, refuge confusion and compliance remain key concerns for producers this growing season, said University of Illinois Extension entomologist Mike Gray.

Since 2000, the use of Bt corn has increased at a very steady rate and has become the dominant production input fundamentally reshaping the manner in which producers manage insects and weeds, Gray said.

University of Illinois Extension is in the midst of a comprehensive statewide private applicator surveying effort. More than 2,000 Illinois producers will be surveyed during the next few weeks in a project funded by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the U.S. EPA.

University of Illinois research shows that most cornfields are not responsive to sulfur, but for those that are, the response is large, said Fabian Fernandez, U of I Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

While current data collected is not sufficient to make any broad conclusions, he said the data clearly indicate that some fields have great potential for response while other fields are very unlikely to respond to sulfur application.

No new herbicide active ingredients are currently available for the 2011 growing season, and University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager said he expects this "drought" of no commercialization of herbicides with unique sites of action to continue into the foreseeable future.

The University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) graduate program has been named the best in its class — again.

This week U.S. News and World Report announced its 2011 ranking of the best engineering schools in the United States. The magazine surveys 198 programs to get the information used in the ranking. For the second consecutive year, ABE at Illinois was named the top-ranked graduate program in agricultural and biological engineering.

The corn market, along with most other commodity and financial markets, was negatively affected by the uncertainty created by the natural disaster in Japan and ongoing conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. The Japanese situation is especially important for corn because Japan is the largest importer of U.S. corn, said a University of Illinois economist.

A new website called farmdocdaily will add new technology to the already popular farmdoc website, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Scott Irwin. "We created the new farmdocdaily site with an eye toward the technology people are increasingly using to access information and the desired format of that information.

Six projects have been selected for funding by the International Seed Grants Program sponsored by the Office of International Programs, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois.

In the Jan. 18 Weekly Outlook, it was suggested that corn and soybean prices had the dual objectives of (1) allocating old-crop supplies so as to maintain pipeline supplies at the end of the year and (2) directing spring planting decisions.

"Specifically, these prices needed to ensure an increase in corn acreage and maintain soybean acreage at the 2010 level," said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

Illinois grape growers are encouraged to attend Vineyard IPM: Early Season Pest Control on Saturday, April 2, at 1 p.m., at the Pittsfield Community Center.

This workshop, sponsored by Western Illinois Grape Producers Associated Cooperation, Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA), University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, focuses on the decision-making process for early season pest control in the vineyard.

Could you live on $1.25 per day? In parts of India—specifically the less developed states of the Indo-Gangetic Plains—living on less than $1.25 per day per capita is a harsh reality. People in this region face problems of hunger, poverty and child malnutrition.

The Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center in Monmouth is doubling in size and celebrating its recent land acquisition in a special ceremony for the public on Thursday, March 31.

On March 31, the USDA will release two important reports, the Prospective Plantings and March 1 Grain Stocks reports. A lot of discussion has focused on the Prospective Plantings report and the importance of farmers' intentions for total planted acreage and the acreage of individual crops. There has been less discussion of the estimate of March 1 grain stocks, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Producers and feed companies add fat to swine diets to increase energy, but recent research from the University of Illinois suggests that measurements currently used for fat digestibility need to be updated.

"It's critical that we gain a better understanding of the energy value of fat," said Hans H. Stein, U of I professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. "If we don't know the true energy value of fat, we can't determine if it's economical to add to the diet."

Students from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) are designing and building a garden to exhibit in the 2011 Chicago Flower and Garden Show, to be held at Navy Pier from March 5 to March 13. The event was created to exhibit landscape architecture and inspire visitors to create their own gardens.

Andrea Briney, CHSAS horticulture teacher and University of Illinois graduate student in agricultural education, is working with her class of 27 seniors to design and build a garden that fits with this year's theme: the sport of gardening.

With corn production down and corn consumption up, the market is poised to see record-high prices per bushel in the 2010-11 marketing year, according to a marketing and outlook brief prepared by University of Illinois agricultural economists Darrel Good and Scott Irwin.

Alternative 2011 Corn Production Consumption and Price Scenarios is available in its entirety on the farmdoc website at farmdoc.illinois.edu.

Food safety begins with sound practices on the farm. Illinois produce and livestock producers are encouraged to attend one of University of Illinois Extension's Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) workshops this spring.

Midwest horse enthusiasts are encouraged to register for the Illinois/Wisconsin Bi-State Horse Workshop on Saturday, April 2, at the Kenosha County Center in Bristol, Wis.

A full-day program organized and sponsored by Illinois and Wisconsin Cooperative Extension will offer three tracts for participants to choose from including a trail riding tract, senior horse tract and advanced horseman tract.

The Illinois Performance Tested (IPT) Bull Sale kicked off the 2011 Illinois Beef Expo this past Thursday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield boasting the highest overall average in the sale's 43-year history.

"The sale averaged $2,980 on 77 lots of Angus, Simmental and Polled Hereford bulls," said Dave Seibert, IPT Bull Sale Manager. "This exceeded the previous record set in 2005 by $321 and the 2010 average by $462." Since the first sale in 1968, Illinois cattle breeders have sold 4,381 bulls valued at more than $7.2 million through the sale.

University of Illinois animal sciences professor Harris Lewin is a recipient of the 2011 Wolf Prize in Agriculture. He shares the prize with James R. Cook, of Washington State University.

The $100,000 Wolf Prizes are awarded each year, with recipients in agriculture, chemistry, physics, mathematics, medicine and the arts. The prize committee selected Lewin for his "highly significant discoveries" in the field of animal agriculture.

Advanced genomic techniques and a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant of almost a half-million dollars will allow University of Illinois researchers to advance fundamental knowledge in plant science that will lead to healthier, more productive crops that play a key role in keeping American agriculture sustainable and competitive.

Yoshie Hanzawa, U of I assistant professor of crop sciences, will study flowering response to seasonal photoperiod changes in soybean.

Five projects were awarded grants through the University of Illinois's College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) partnership with the Mexican government through CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología). Funds for this program are contributed equally by CONACYT and ACES Office of Research, and they are administered by ACES Office of International Programs.

The following U of I ACES faculty members will each receive $8,000 to work on projects with Mexican colleagues over the next year:

Most of the focus on 2011 U.S. planted acreage centers on corn acreage. There are a number of reasons for that focus, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) has awarded a $20 million grant to nine land-grant universities and two USDA Agricultural Research Service institutions. The research will focus on keeping Midwest corn-based cropping systems resilient in the face of future climate uncertainties.

For the first time since its creation in 1999, the Midwest Composting School will be held on Illinois soil at Illinois State University in Normal from May 31 to June 2.

University of Illinois Extension will collaborate on this year's school, a three-day workshop hosted by regional extension educators that offers comprehensive training in compost production and marketing.

Despite predictions of record-high market hog prices in 2011, swine producers will be challenged once again to achieve profits in their operations because of increasing feed ingredient costs. Rommel Sulabo, University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Animal Sciences, shared five ways producers can reduce costs and increase profits at the Illinois Pork Expo today in Peoria.

Dan Anderson, research specialist at the University of Illinois, is looking for 10 small-scale farmers to participate in an on-farm research project on sustainable vegetable production.

"Ideally, we will choose 10 farmers from across Illinois who have the potential to help us achieve the goals of this research: to improve the sustainability of small-scale, management-intensive vegetable farms through the facilitation of on-farm experimentation and utilization of cover crops during fallow periods," Anderson said.

Dan Anderson, research specialist at the University of Illinois, is looking for 10 small-scale farmers to participate in an on-farm research project on sustainable vegetable production.

"Ideally, we will choose 10 farmers from across Illinois who have the potential to help us achieve the goals of this research: to improve the sustainability of small-scale, management-intensive vegetable farms through the facilitation of on-farm experimentation and utilization of cover crops during fallow periods," Anderson said.

URBANA - The USDA's weekly Export Sales report and weekly reports of export inspections provide timely information about export demand for U.S. agricultural commodities. The U.S. Census Bureau, however, is the official source of export estimates. The monthly Census Bureau reports are not as timely as USDA reports, but provide an opportunity to reassess export progress during the marketing year, said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

The Illinois State Fair Grounds will host the 43rd Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale next week. Todd Gleason has the details.

The U.S. beef herd is getting smaller. Todd Gleason files this report on just what it means to the industry and the price of beef.

The price of corn, other commodities, too, has gone up rapidly. Most often this happens in a short crop year, drought and flood can really take a toll. This year that's somewhat the case, but it is really demand for corn that has driven the market higher. Todd Gleason reports.

The balance sheet for corn is getting tighter, and that means prices should stay high. Todd Gleason has more from the University of Illinois.

While most students were at home celebrating New Year's Day, six students from the University of Illinois were traveling to the Navajo Nation in Kayenta, Ariz., for a cultural immersion trip.

The week-long trip was part of a leadership communications class in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). This was the first year that the course included a field experience, which was funded by the ACES Academy of Teaching Excellence.

ExplorACES is a two-day event designed to introduce high school students and their families to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The event is scheduled for Friday, Mar. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday, Mar.12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Frank Zhao landed a USDA grant for more than half a million dollars and gives credit to the ACES Research Academy for helping him get it. Zhao was a member of the 2009 graduating class of the unique program designed to help new faculty develop a successful career in the academic world.

URBANA - Three weeks ago, a University of Illinois agricultural economist assessed the rate of consumption of corn and soybeans and concluded that corn consumption was progressing too rapidly based on available supplies. Soybean consumption appeared to have slowed enough so that further rationing was not required.

In a three-week period in the summer of 2010, seven people died in grain bin engulfments in the Midwest. This tragic loss of life led to the formation of the Grain Handling Safety Coalition (GHSC), a consortium of public and private organizations who hope to work together to reduce or prevent grain bin accidents and fatalities through education and outreach.

It's safe to say that no one celebrates 90th birthdays quite like the Cmarik family.

To honor George Cmarik, former University of Illinois assistant professor in animal sciences, his daughter organized a student internship gift to commemorate Cmarik's special day.

Two new sources of soybean meal are capturing attention throughout the country. University of Illinois research indicates that fermented soybean meal and enzyme-treated soybean meal may replace fish meal in weanling pig diets.

"The price of fish meal has exploded and is causing producers to search for new options for weanling pig diets," said Hans H. Stein, U of I professor of animal sciences. "Pigs are traditionally fed diets containing relatively large amounts of animal proteins such as fish meal from weaning up to 40 pounds when they can digest traditional soybean meal."

URBANA - A smaller beef herd reported in USDA's Jan. 1 Cattle inventory estimates has provided the cattle markets with even more bullish news. Beef cow numbers continue to fall as producers seem to want out of the business, said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt.

A newly created network for people interested in sustainable farming practices will hold its first meeting on Saturday, March 5, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Station 220 New American Bistro located on 220 East Front Street in Bloomington.

Lee Rincker, a University of Illinois junior in agricultural education, took home the coveted title of high individual in the 2011 National Western Stock Show (NWSS) Senior Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest.

Individually, Rincker finished first in cattle, first in cattle reasons, first in swine, second in oral reasons and first overall.

Waterhemp has done it again. University of Illinois researchers just published an article in Pest Management Science confirming that waterhemp is the first weed to evolve resistance to HPPD-inhibiting herbicides.

"A fifth example of resistance in one weed species is overwhelming evidence that resistance to virtually any herbicide used extensively on this species is possible," said Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist.

Registration is now open for the first-ever Swine Webinar Series sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, U of I Extension, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and The Pork Checkoff.

This series is designed to provide a forum for relaying information on a broad array of topics relevant to swine producers and industry affiliates, said Rob Knox, U of I Extension swine specialist and professor in the U of I Department of Animal Sciences.

The future of Midwest cattle feeding will be discussed at the 2011 Cattle Feeders Day on February 16 at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau in Sycamore, Ill.

This seminar, sponsored by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), the Illinois Beef Association (IBA), and the University of Illinois Extension, will highlight new cattle feeding strategies, feedstuff availability in the future, and new research on feedlot feed efficiency.

Associate Professor Craig Gundersen has been selected as the Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois in Urbana — Champaign, according to Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

URBANA — The USDA projects that corn stocks at the end of the 2010-11 marketing year will total only 745 million bushels, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"That projection represents 5.5 percent of projected marketing year consumption. Stocks as a percent of consumption would be the smallest since the record low 5 percent of 1995-96. And 5 percent is considered to be a minimal pipeline supply," he said.

Edamame production just took a step forward, said Marty Williams, a weed scientist with USDA-ARS and the University of Illinois. Dual Magnum, an important herbicide, has recently been registered for use on edamame, or vegetable soybean.

"As I understand, this is one of the first herbicides receiving a federal label for use on edamame," Williams said. "Edamame producers now have an additional, important tool to help suppress weeds that would otherwise severely limit crop yield."

Two popular University of Illinois programs will benefit from a $2 million investment from Farm Credit Services of Illinois and 1st Farm Credit Services. An announcement was made in late December that the two organizations each gave a $1 million endowment to agriculture programs that educate young people, train future agricultural leaders, and support higher education agriculture.

The two $1 million gifts will be dispersed differently.

Researchers are studying novel and traditional woody plants as short rotation crops for biomass production to help diversify and expand bioenergy research efforts at the University of Illinois.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announced Wednesday a $10 million grant to establish the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois. The global institute will work with farmers in the developing world to help preserve millions of metric tons of grains and oilseeds lost each year to pests, disease, mishandling, and other factors.

An increased interest in biofuel production and a growing need to find cost-effective livestock feedstuff alternatives has led University of Illinois researchers to further evaluate the use of glycerin in swine diets.

This study, led by U of I graduate research assistant Omarh Mendoza, was published in the Journal of Animal Science and reports that swine diets may include up to 15 percent glycerin and achieve similar performance to a conventional corn:soybean diet.

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in North American corn production, but heated controversy remains over the 50-plus-year-old product. Several other herbicides are used in corn production, and a host of non-chemical tactics are sometimes used, too. If the use of atrazine is restricted or banned altogether, how will sweet corn growers cope? A recent University of Illinois study shows sweet corn can be grown successfully without atrazine, but given today's approach, perhaps not very often.

Tree fruit producers in southern Illinois can learn about the challenges facing orchardists in the region at this year's Commercial Tree Fruit School, hosted by University of Illinois Extension.

The program will take place at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon on February 1 and again at the First Presbyterian Church Hall in Hardin on February 2.

URBANA - Over the next three months, the prices of corn and soybeans have two major objectives. First, prices must allocate remaining old crop supplies to maintain at least pipeline stocks by the end of the current marketing year. Second, prices must direct spring planting decisions, said Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

The Illinois Forage Institute will take place on Thursday, March 24, at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center near Simpson. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by 4 p.m.

"The educational program will focus on managing hayland and pastures," said Dale Baird, U of I Extension educator. "The program will also include commercial exhibits focusing on the forage industry."

It is well known that corn needs to be ground to be effectively utilized by pigs. New research shows that particle size reductions beyond current common practice may help lower feed costs.

"For many years producers have been grinding to an average particle size between 650 and 700 microns," said Hans H. Stein, University of Illinois Extension swine specialist and professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. "This particle size was based on research showing that if grain is ground to a smaller particle size, then problems with ulcers in pigs may increase."

University of Illinois research reports that several herbicides used on corn also have good selectivity to Miscanthus x giganteus (Giant Miscanthus), a potential bioenergy feedstock.

"No herbicides are currently labeled for use in Giant Miscanthus grown for biomass," said Eric Anderson, an instructor of bioenergy for the Center of Advanced BioEnergy Research at the University of Illinois. "Our research shows that several herbicides used on corn are also safe on this rhizomatous grass."

The latest research information on critical crop production issues will be discussed at four University of Illinois Crop Management Conferences this winter. These two-day conferences will address a wide array of topics pertinent to crop production, pest management, and natural resources issues while providing a forum for discussion and interaction between participants and university researchers.

University of Illinois professor of animal sciences Jim Pettigrew and fellow members of the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) caught the attention of many with a webinar titled, "Antibiotics in Animals and People." Due to a limited delivery system, only 100 people from academia, industry and government were allowed to attend this webinar. Because of the overwhelming interest in this topic, FASS has made the webinar available at their website, www.fass.org.

University of Illinois research has resulted in the development of a novel and widely applicable molecular tool that can serve as a road map for making plant breeding easier to understand. Researchers developed a unified nomenclature for male fertility restorer (RF) proteins in higher plants that can make rapid advancements in plant breeding.

Making sense of strip-trial data doesn't have to be complicated, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Professor and Extension Agronomist at the 2010 AGMasters Conference in December.

"We can think of crops grown in fields as a 'population' of plants," he said. "Basically when we apply some sort of treatment, we need to know if this forms a new population or not? Statistics, which might be considered the science of describing variability in a population, can help us figure out what is really happening."

Between 1990 and 2010 cash-rent levels per acre have increased by about 70 percent and crop revenues for grain operations have more than doubled, largely due to agricultural commodity and energy prices, according to a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"Significant increases in commodity futures prices throughout this fall suggest that expectations are for cash rents to continue to increase at least over the short-term," said economist Nick Paulson.

Contrary to the belief of many scientists (as well as many members of the public), new research confirms that Africa has two—not one—species of elephant. Scientists from the University of Illinois, Harvard Medical School, and the University of York in the United Kingdom used genetic analysis to prove that the African savanna elephant and the smaller African forest elephant have been largely separated for several million years.

The first students in the Professional Science Master's program at the University of Illinois graduated on December 17. Three students graduated with a Master's Degree in Agricultural Production; two students in Food Science and Human Nutrition; and six students in Bioenergy — all from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) in cooperation with the Graduate College of the University of Illinois.

In the minds of many, Miscanthus x giganteus is the forerunner in the race of viable feedstock options for lignocellulosic bioenergy production. But researchers believe "putting all their eggs in one basket" could be a big mistake. Scientists at the University of Illinois recently reported the first natural occurrence in several decades of Miscanthus hybrid plants in Japan.

Dairy producers are invited to attend a new educational dairy program, "Strategic Solutions," developed by the Illinois Milk Producers Association (IMPA).

The program will be offered on three dates at three different locations throughout the state. Producers can attend on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at Kaskaskia College in Centralia; Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the IAA Building in Bloomington; or Thursday, Jan. 27, at Highland Community College in Freeport.

Latino faculty at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) are taking the lead to mentor the next generation of Latino scientists through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant recently awarded to Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, Sandra Rodriguez Zas, Maria Villamil, and Jesse Thompson.

University of Illinois county Extension offices will host the upcoming webinar, "Managing Legal Risks in the Direct Farm Business," on Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. with a follow-up webinar on Thursday, Mar. 3, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. A. Bryan Endres, associate professor of agricultural law at the University of Illinois, and attorney Nicholas R. Johnson have developed the webinar to clarify some of the unique legal issues pertaining to direct farm businesses and to guide direct farm business owners through the maze of laws.

As temperature and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increase, growers may see things pop up on their farms that they haven't seen before, said Lewis Ziska, a USDA-ARS specialist in crop systems and global change in Beltsville, Md. Unfortunately, they won't all be good.

In a session on climate, carbon dioxide and invasive weed species at the 2010 University of Illinois AGMasters Conference, Ziska discussed how rising carbon dioxide levels and rising temperatures may cause invasive weed populations to change.

Climate change is one of the most important issues facing humanity, said Don Wuebbles, University of Illinois scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, to more than 150 attendees of the 2010 U of I AGMasters Conference at the I Hotel in Champaign on Thursday, Dec. 2.

"The science is clear," Wuebbles said. "Our climate is changing, and human activities have been identified as the primary cause. The need for urgent action is indisputable."

URBANA - December 2010 corn futures have regained more than half of the decline that occurred from Nov. 9 to Nov. 23. Cash prices have recovered even more as basis levels continue to strengthen, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"A number of factors continue to influence corn prices, with the market trying to weigh the negative versus the positive factors. There is some concern about the large, long positions held by both index and managed funds and the possible negative impact of liquidation of some of those positions," he said.

Nearly 100,000 elementary students will benefit from the efforts of 10 high school students throughout the next few months as they promote agricultural education in schools across the state.

A select group of Illinois high school students gathered at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in November to learn effective ways to promote agricultural education in their local elementary schools.

The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois is offering an online class in bioenergy systems (ACES 409) for the Spring 2011 semester. The online class will meet January 18 - May 10 on Tuesdays from 6:30-9:00 p.m. CST.

The growing importance of bioenergy as a means to diversify farming, generate employment opportunities and allow the United States to achieve energy independence will highlight the eighth annual Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium on Tuesday, Jan. 11, and Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.

Farmers, researchers, academics, industry professionals, and government officials are invited to attend and exchange ideas and information.

The Office of International Programs has welcomed four North African Fellows to the University of Illinois to study water quality and management as well as tools for modernization. They arrived on campus November 13 and are staying for one month.

These four scholars—Anis Bousselmi, Thouraya Mellah, and Issam Nouiri from Tunisia and Fouad Elame from Morocco—are participating in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Norman E. Borlaug Fellowship Program.

URBANA - Corn, soybean, and wheat prices dropped sharply following the spike on Nov. 9, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

December 2010 corn futures declined 96 cents from their high on Nov. 9 to their low on Nov. 23. January 2011 soybean futures dropped $1.45 by Nov. 19, and December 2010 wheat futures declined by $1.36 to their low on Nov. 16, he noted.

Three 4-H alumni were recognized for their continuing contributions to 4-H youth development programs at an awards ceremony at the University of Illinois on November 12.

The Illinois 4-H Foundation awarded three different honors at the ceremony to recognize recipients for their contributions to 4-H, an out-of-school youth education program available through University of Illinois Extension offices in every county across the state.

The 2010-2011 Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) Workshops begin this year in Bloomington, Illinois, on Dec. 14. Seven subsequent workshops will be held around the state in the New Year, with three workshops in January, two in February and one in March.

With a portion of the proceeds from the sale of gifted farmland, the University of Illinois purchased 80 acres of farmland less than one mile from its Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center in rural Monmouth. That farmland combined with an additional 80 acres which was purchased by a local citizen group doubles the size of the original 160 acre Monmouth Research Center.

Three University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) faculty members have been selected for funding in the International Seed Grants Program sponsored by the U of I College of ACES Office of International Programs.

The 2010 recipients include Gale Summerfield of Human and Community Development, Juan Andrade of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and J. Ryan Stewart of Crop Sciences.

University of Illinois Extension's commercial agriculture programs will see some big changes in 2011, when the organization's remaining crops and livestock Educators will relocate to six U of I research stations around the State. When producers need non-commercial, research-based answers they can trust, Extension's commercial agriculture Educators and Specialists still will be there to help, according to Robert Hoeft, the U of I's Interim Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach. But how they deliver that help will change with the times.

The statewide reorganization of University of Illinois Extension continued last week, with the appointments of 118 Educators who will serve in the 26 new multi-county Extension Units across Illinois. Only Cook County remains as a single-county Extension operation.

Although the reorganization was prompted by a shortfall in state funding, staffing decisions have been made on the basis of local program needs, according to Robert Hoeft, Interim Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach on the Urbana campus.

URBANA - Hog producers have been feeling the bite of losses once again this fall, but there is reason for some optimism, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension economist.

"First, hog prices are probably at their seasonal lows in late November as consumers are buying their Thanksgiving turkey rather than pork. Second, lower corn and meal prices provide an opportunity to lock in feed prices at levels that were not available a few weeks ago," he said.

The National Pork Board is celebrating. They just reached their goal of certifying more than 50,000 people in the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus® program. And Illinois is one of the forefront states that helped them reach this milestone.

"It's time we share great stories like this one," said Rob Knox, University of Illinois Extension swine specialist. "We want to show the public how our pork producers are meeting the industry's challenge to provide a safe, healthy food product that is raised with the utmost care."

URBANA - Except for a brief retreat in early October, corn, soybean, and wheat prices were in a steady uptrend from June 30 through November 9. December 2010 corn futures increased about 70 percent, whereas January 2011 soybean futures and July 2011 wheat futures increased about 50 percent. But the uptrend in crop prices has stalled, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

URBANA —To help producers navigate another season of agricultural challenges, University of Illinois Extension has scheduled the 2010 Illinois Farm Economics Summit, a series of five December meetings to be held across Illinois. The theme is "The Profitability of Illinois Agriculture: Managing in a Strong Ag Economy."

"A major issue over the past year was the weather, with the wettest and latest harvest in memory, a deluge of spring and summer rainfall in some places, and hot everywhere," said Scott Irwin, U of I professor of agricultural and consumer economics.

URBANA - Corn prices continue to be supported by expectations that the USDA will reduce the forecast size of the 2010 U.S. crop and by a rapid pace of ethanol production. The rate of exports and export sales has been somewhat disappointing, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

The agenda for the 14th annual University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classics includes an exciting line-up of speakers emphasizing crop production, pest management and economics.

Speakers and topics include:

Carl Bradley: Paying for Fungicides or Making Fungicides Pay?

Michael Gray: 0%, 5%, 10%, or 20%: Stacked or Pyramided, Structured or Refuge-in-a-Bag — Perfectly Clear?

Terry Niblack: Nematodes that Attack Corn and Soybean: Situation and Management

The University of Illinois' Department of Crop Sciences is offering a new online course, Principles of Crop Advising (CpSc 412), for the first time next spring.

Crop sciences faculty will provide instruction covering the fundamentals in agronomic management of field crops with an emphasis on crop production and crop protection principles.

University of Illinois researchers have confirmed the first report of a potential new virus belonging to the genus Marafivirus in switchgrass, a biomass crop being evaluated for commercial cellulosic ethanol production.

URBANA - December 2010 corn futures moved above $5.00 in mid-September, moderated in early October, and then moved sharply higher following the USDA's October Crop Production report. The month of November started with new highs for that contract, said Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"Even though prices are at the highest level since July 2008, some analysts are projecting even higher prices, with $7.00 being a favorite target. The obvious question is: Why are higher prices needed?" he said.

Anyone who lives in or around farm country has at one time or another wrinkled their nose and said "What's that smell?" Too often, it's the odor coming from a nearby livestock building. At best, these odors can strain the relationship between a livestock producer and his neighbors. At worst, they can lead to legal battles that leave everyone unsatisfied.

Unlike many other assets whose values have tanked this past year, farmland prices have not fallen during the recent troubled economic times. A recent University of Illinois report examined this phenomenon. The report is an installment of Farm Economics Facts and Opinions and is posted on the University of Illinois farmdoc website.

The current legislation that enables ethanol blenders to receive a 45 cent per gallon incentive expires at the end of the year. In anticipation of new legislation, a proposal was developed by University of Illinois economists for a variable incentive program that could save U.S. taxpayers more than $13 billion.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded a $1.5 million grant today to help University of Illinois researchers establish guidelines for increasing environmental, social, and economic sustainability in ornamental crop production systems.

Lead researcher Ryan Stewart of the U of I Department of Crop Sciences said a major concern of greenhouses, nurseries and other ornamental crop production systems is waste generation due to the use of plastic pots.

URBANA - There are three issues that are important for corn and soybeans as they compete for acreage in 2011, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"First, there's the question of how many acres of these crops are needed to meet consumption needs at 'reasonable' prices. Second, how many acres are available for planting of all crops in 2011? Third, what is the likely strength of competition from other crops?" he said.

New University of Illinois county directors will begin providing leadership in the multi-county units on November 1. Three county-level positions are yet to be filled.

Research conducted by the University of Illinois and the University of Tennessee confirms that the fungus that causes frogeye leaf spot (FLS) of soybean, Cercospora sojina, has shown resistance to strobilurin fungicides in a Tennessee soybean field.

"Strobilurin fungicides belong to the chemistry class known as the quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs), which are the most widely used group of foliar fungicides applied to field crops to manage plant diseases," said Carl Bradley, U of I Extension plant pathologist.

URBANA - The cattle industry is ready to set records for high prices this year and next, said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt.

"Although this is positive news for finished cattle prices, calves and feeder cattle still face the price-depressing burden of high feed costs. In the longer run, current high feed prices will keep the industry in a liquidation phase, and smaller beef supplies in coming years will be positive for returns for years to come," he said.

As consumer demand for naturally raised beef continues to increase, researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered that naturally raised beef can be produced effectively for this niche market as long as a substantial premium is offered to cover additional production and transportation costs.

Naturally raised beef is produced without hormones or antibiotics, whereas traditional systems take advantage of technologies the industry offers such as ionophores like Rumensin® to improve feed efficiency and implants to improve gain and efficiency.

As the end of the 2010 harvest nears, it's time to mark your calendar for the 14th annual University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classics.

"This educational program continues to provide our clientele with the most current and timely information related to crop production, marketing and pest management," said Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist. "In 2010, more than 1,000 people attended the Corn and Soybean Classics. We believe this excellent attendance bears affirmative testimony that our clientele place a high value on this educational program."

Roger Thurow, author of "ENOUGH: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty," will visit the University of Illinois on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Thurow will participate in the ACES International Lecture Series sponsored by the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Office of International Programs.

URBANA - December 2010 corn futures traded to a high of $5.235 on September 27 and closed at $5.05 on Sept. 29. On Oct. 4, the surprisingly large USDA Sept. 1 corn stocks estimate released on Sept. 30 sent that contract to a low of $4.56, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Similarly, the November 2010 soybean futures contract traded to $11.295 on Sept. 27, closed at $10.99 on Sept. 29, and declined to $10.44 on Oct. 4, he said.

Illinois corn yielded less than expected in most areas in 2010, and corn following corn was particularly hard hit. Because current crop acreages are skewed toward corn, at least 20 percent of the 2010 corn in Illinois followed corn.

Transgenic corn's suppression of the European corn borer has saved Midwest farmers billions of dollars in the past decade, reports a new study in Science.

Research conducted by several Midwest universities shows that suppression of this pest has saved $3.2 billion for corn growers in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin over the past 14 years with more than $2.4 billion of this total benefiting non-Bt corn growers. Comparable estimates for Iowa and Nebraska are $3.6 billion in total, with $1.9 billion accruing for non-Bt corn growers.

The 2010 soybean harvest looks promising for Illinois growers with early yield reports indicating the best harvest many growers have ever seen. However, green soybean plants and stems may reduce harvest speed this fall.

Vince Davis, University of Illinois Extension soybean specialist, said the biggest issue concerning growers this fall continues to be green stems and green plants that remain in fields that are otherwise ready to harvest.

A consortium led by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) received $9 million to improve the livelihoods of rural farmers in the world's poorest nations by modernizing and strengthening their agricultural Extension systems.

Illinois farmers are finally getting a chance to address compacted soils this fall.

"With the removal of water by the crop and normally dry weather in the fall, soils at harvest are typically dry enough to allow tillage that helps alleviate compaction," said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist. "This was not the case in 2009, when soils were wet at harvest. Because of this, soils in many Illinois fields are more compacted now than they have been for some time."

URBANA - The USDA's September Grain Stocks report indicates that the corn that went missing in June was found in September. The USDA's June 1, 2010 corn stocks estimate released on June 30 showed a surprisingly small inventory of corn. That estimate helped ignite a three-month rally in corn prices, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

Fall herbicide applications are becoming a common practice for Illinois farmers. Recent interest has focused on applying herbicides after fall harvest to control winter annual weed species, such as common chickweed, henbit and various mustard species.

University of Illinois researchers say corn response to sulfur may be more common than in the past.

In 2009, Fabian Fernandez, U of I Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, began a study to evaluate the response of corn to sulfur. He discovered that while some locations showed no response to sulfur, some did. Locations that were more responsive showed yield increases ranging from a few bushels to more than 50 bushels per acre compared to the untreated check.

URBANA - Hog producers were ready to expand this fall. That may have been appropriate when 2010 corn prices were expected to close at $3.50 in early July, but that is no longer an acceptable conclusion with expectations closer to $5.00, said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt.

"Higher corn prices will cut margins over the coming 12 months, but hog producers can now avoid an expansion that would plunge margins deep into the red in late 2011 and 2012," he said.

Tile drainage in the Mississippi Basin is one of the great advances of the 19th and 20th centuries, allowing highly productive agriculture in what was once land too wet to farm. In fact, installation of new tile systems continues every year, because it leads to increased crop yields. But a recent study shows that the most heavily tile-drained areas of North America are also the largest contributing source of nitrate to the Gulf of Mexico, leading to seasonal hypoxia. In the summer of 2010 this dead zone in the Gulf spanned over 7,000 square miles.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have teamed with two USDA laboratories to fine tune their research in the corn wet-milling process, using small, single-owner plants in other countries.

Vijay Singh, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has led the field in the development of a process called enzymatic corn wet milling.

After last year, no producer wanted to be late getting into the fields this fall. While it's great to get the crop out early, collect soil samples while it's still nice outside, and perform tillage while soil conditions are adequate, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said no one should be applying nitrogen yet.

The buzz about crop residue is increasing after the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biomass Program's announcement to increase the use of crop residue as a source of biomass for renewable fuel production.

"Crop residue can be fermented, burned, charred, or gasified to produce energy," said Fabián Fernández, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. "However the residue is used, one thing is certain — it needs to be taken out of the field."

With a promising harvest under way, it's a good time to replenish fields with phosphorus and potassium, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

URBANA - There has been a lot of action in the soybean market since two weeks ago when we wrote about strong soybean prices and the importance of upcoming USDA reports and South American crop prospects, said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

"Prices turned lower from Sept. 7 through Sept. 16, but rallied sharply on Sept. 17 and again at the open of trade on Sept. 20. November 2010 futures exceeded the early December 2009 highs and then traded to nearly $11.00," he said.

The University of Illinois Collegiate FFA (CFFA) chapter led more than 300 freshman high school students in a series of exciting workshops designed to unlock their leadership potential at the Urbana-Champaign campus Thursday night.

"We hope students left with a greater understanding of what it means to be a leader," said Ellen Reeder, CFFA member and freshman in agricultural communications at the U of I. "We also wanted to expose them to the many opportunities available to them in this organization."

Basil downy mildew has reached epidemic status in Illinois, said Mohammad Babadoost, University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist.

Basil is a $10 million industry in Illinois, and one of the leading states in basil production, Babadoost said.

Basil downy mildew is caused by Peronospora belbahrii, which infects leaves, develops and spreads rapidly, and causes total crop loss. Growers should look for leaf spot and foliar blight. The pathogen is spread by wind, seed and plant material.

URBANA - The USDA reports released on Sept. 10 provided substantial new information for the corn and soybean markets, but a number of questions remain. Uncertainty about both supply and demand will slowly be cleared up over the next few months, said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

Urbana - In a typical year, 551 workers die while doing agricultural work in the United States and about 88,000 suffer lost-time injuries. Most of these incidents are preventable.

National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 19-25) recognizes the hazardous nature of the agriculture industry and promotes awareness of safety solutions. This annual event was initiated by the National Safety Council (NSC) in 1944 and proclaimed as such by each U.S. president since.

Horse and small livestock owners are invited to attend a workshop on best management practices for dealing with manure sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, University of Wisconsin Extension and the Hooved Animal Humane Society. The workshop will take place Monday, Oct. 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock.

Mark your calendars for the 2010 AGMasters Conference on Dec. 2-3 at the University of Illinois I-Hotel and Conference Center.

"Four advanced sessions have been added to this year's program and the general session has been shortened to meet producer's needs," said Mike Gray, U of I Extension Entomologist.

URBANA — In the search for the perfect crop for biofuel production, Miscanthus has become the darling to many. But in an effort to not be charmed by its enormous potential for biomass production, researchers at the University of Illinois are taking a careful look at the pros and cons of its behavior in the field.

A recent study analyzed water quantity and quality in plots of Miscanthus, switchgrass, corn, and soybeans and found that Miscanthus used substantially more water, but reduced the potential for nitrogen pollution to water bodies.

A $1 million USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant will help University of Illinois researchers determine if changes in the Glossy15 gene system of sorghum will lead to enhanced bioenergy production in the future.

A $1.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant will help University of Illinois researchers accelerate genetic breeding programs to create plants better suited for bioenergy production.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop better, cheaper biofuels," said Matthew Hudson, U of I associate professor in crop sciences and member of the Energy Biosciences Institute in the Institute for Genomic Biology. "In this project, we will be looking at the possibility that small RNAs are involved in controlling the deposition and quality of lignocellulosic biomass in grasses, especially Miscanthus."

As interest grows in feeding distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to growing pigs, many questions are being asked about the digestibility of this alternative feed option.

"Previous research shows that while the amount of energy in DDGS is greater than that of corn, pigs have lower digestibility of energy in DDGS than in corn," said Hans H. Stein, U of I associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. "Our goal was to find out why."

Students experienced for themselves the value of farm-fresh produce at the University of Illinois Sustainable Student Farm's first open house last Thursday.

U of I students were invited to tour the student farm and learn how produce is grown and harvested to meet the demands of campus dining services.

In addition, campus chefs prepared delicious creations using student farm produce and created side-by-side comparisons of farm-fresh produce versus grocery store produce.

URBANA — Although much of the attention in the crop markets in recent weeks has been focused on wheat and corn, the soybean market is also strong and its position will be clarified in the coming months by three USDA reports, said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

"Soybean prices have traded in a wide range over the past two months, but fundamental developments have been less dramatic than in the wheat and corn markets," he noted.

For the first time ever, University of Illinois researchers have discovered how microbes break down hemicellulose plant matter into simple sugars using a cow rumen bacterium as a model.

Do you know which plants are growing in your pastures?

On Wednesday, Sept. 8, the public is invited to a "Weed Management in Pastures Workshop," from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton, Ill.

"Weeds can rob you of potential forage for your horses and livestock," said Ellen Phillips, University of Illinois Extension Educator. "No matter how big or small your pastures are, it's wise to regularly evaluate them. Fall is a good time to control many of the typical weeds found in pastures."

Solid academic research, real-world experiences, and interaction with dairy professionals are three reasons why Ernie Crouzer chose to obtain an accredited dairy certificate from the University of Illinois.

For Crouzer, a procurement manager for Zinpro Corporation in Wisconsin, the opportunity to gain educational experiences based on what's really happening on a commercial dairy farm today was something he couldn't pass up. Crouzer and eight other students recently earned U of I Graduate School Accredited Dairy Certificates from the comfort of their homes across the world.

URBANA - Recent strength in corn prices is related to concerns that the U.S. average yield may fall short of the USDA's August 12 forecast of 165 bushels, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"Corn prices have been moving higher since June 30 when the USDA revealed smaller stocks and fewer planted acres than expected. December 2010 corn futures have increased about $1.00 per bushel and the spot cash price of corn in central Illinois has increased 90 cents, to a marketing year high of $3.925 on August 27," Darrel Good said.

As the 2010 Illinois corn harvest gets underway, some farmers are expressing concern over test weights that are lower than they expected. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension Agronomist, said,

"Many people think test weights in the lower 50s are an indication that yield has been lost, and that there may be other problems they didn't foresee. In many cases, kernels will seem sound (unlike those from many fields in 2009), even when test weights are 3 or 4 pounds below the standard 56 pounds per bushel."

So, what are these low test weights indicating?

University of Illinois researchers recently discovered that feeding co-products and cornstalk residue in the winter can save cow-calf producers up to $1 per day per cow as compared to feeding hay.

Feed costs continue to be the number one detriment to profitability in cow-calf operations. With feed comprising 60 percent of a producer's costs, any measures producers take to minimize expenses can make the difference between profit or no profit at the end of the year.

Evidence of downy mildew has been confirmed in central Illinois, Tazewell County in the Morton/Pekin area, according to Mohammad Babadoost, University of Illinois plant pathologist in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Department of Crop Sciences.

"This is a very destructive disease," he said. "In about a week to 10 days, it takes over the field and all almost of the leaves will be brown. So we are rushing to release the news.

A recent report projecting the 2011 crop budget suggests that for the best return farmers in southern Illinois should plant wheat/double-crop-soybean. The report is an installment of Farm Economics Facts and Opinions and is posted on the University of Illinois farmdoc web site.

URBANA - There's an old adage among farmers in the Midwest that says when corn is cheap you have to "walk it to market." The concept of "walking corn to market" is not some new genetic modification. Rather it is the simple principle of adding value to corn on your farm by feeding it to livestock, said a Purdue University Extension economist.

"Walking corn to market simple meant feeding your corn to livestock rather than selling it as cash grain. That principle worked well when corn was $2 per bushel, but what about when corn is $4 a bushel?" said Chris Hurt.

The University of Illinois Tax School has announced their 2010 seminar schedule. This year's seminars include several one-day seminars on specific tax topics and 32 seminar locations throughout the state of Illinois for their annual two-day Fall Tax School. All seminars provide Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit, which is a requirement for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Enrolled Agents with the IRS (EAs), attorneys specializing in tax law, and licensed tax preparers.

URBANA - The USDA's August 12 reports of world and U.S. crop production, consumption, and price prospects paint a picture of potentially strong demand for U.S. crops, with the strongest demand expected for U.S. wheat and the weakest demand for U.S. soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension agricultural economist.

"The U.S. wheat crop is now forecast at 2.265 billion bushels, reflecting a record yield of 46.9 bushels. The crop is 49 million bushels larger than the 2009 crop even though planted acreage was down 4.8 million acres from that of 2009," said Darrel Good.

Horse and small livestock owners are invited to attend a workshop on best management practices for dealing with manure sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, University of Wisconsin Extension and Danada Equestrian Center.

A dog's indiscriminate taste is not always a positive trait. In fact, it often leads to gastrointestinal infections and consequent ailments such as diarrhea and vomiting that come from eating spoiled food. Others develop gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases that are not directly attributed to the diet, but are influenced by intestinal bacteria.

Researchers at the University of Illinois are making strides in devising dietary interventions to combat these infections through advanced DNA pyrosequencing technology.

The debate continues as scrutiny increases over the sustainability of ethanol derived from crops developed for food production. Concerns about net energy and greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to its effect on food and feed pricing are driving researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at the University of Illinois and at the University of California Berkeley to find cropping options that will produce ethanol sustainably and without taking more of the land currently used for food and feed production.

Excessive rain and extremely dry weather in varying parts of Illinois are responsible for two quite different diseases showing up across the state.

Symptoms of charcoal rot are being spotted in dry areas of southern Illinois, and sudden death syndrome has been found in wet areas across the state, reports University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist Carl Bradley.

"When we find both 'wet' and 'dry' diseases in the same year, it proves how different the spectrum of disease is under varying environmental conditions," Bradley said.

Hot, dry weather and twospotted spider mites just go together, said Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

Reports of spotty infestations are surfacing in some areas of the state. Robert Bellm, Crop Systems Extension Educator in the Edwardsville Extension Center, reported Monday that twospotted spider mites were discovered in several southwestern Illinois counties, including Clinton, Jersey, Montgomery and Washington.

For some, the allure of the Illinois State Fair is a funnel cake. For others, it's a ride on the Ferris wheel. But for many, one of the best reasons to attend is to milk a cow.

Since its opening day 28 years ago, the University of Illinois Dairy Club Milk-a-Cow booth has drawn more than 160,000 fairgoers to try their hand at milking — literally.

U of I dairy cows travel to the state fair to provide the public with an opportunity to milk a cow and learn more about the dairy industry.

The USDA will release the first forecasts of the size of the 2010 U.S. corn and soybean crops on August 12. Those forecasts are based on a large survey of producers and objective yield data gathered in the largest production states.

Agriculture industry representatives addressed "Urgent Issues and New Opportunities for Agricultural Communications" during a panel discussion held at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, July 22, 2010.

Do you ever wonder why you see so many fields of detasseled corn each summer? The answer goes back to the summer of 1970.

Forty years ago, the Southern Corn Leaf Blight (SCLB) Epidemic, ravaged cornfields across the United States. This epidemic is considered by many to be the most economically devastating field crop disease of any developed area of the world during the 20th century.

In order to establish alfalfa fields with six to eight inches growth before a killing frost occurs, University of Illinois Extension educator Jim Morrison encourages producers to start planning now for late-summer seeding of perennial legumes.

University of Illinois researchers identified the mutation causing Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA; formerly Fawn Calf Syndrome), a genetic abnormality affecting Angus and Angus-derived cattle.

Jonathan Beever, U of I associate professor in the department of animal sciences and lead researcher, said his team completed the correct assembly of the DNA sequence responsible for CA on June 8. Since then, they have developed DNA tests based on this mutation.

URBANA - Corn, soybean, and wheat prices have experienced an impressive rally over the past month, but a price rally of this magnitude may be difficult to sustain, said a University of Illinois Extension agricultural economist.

"From the lows in late June to the high on August 2, December 2010 corn futures rallied nearly $.75, November 2010 soybean futures rallied $1.40, and September wheat futures rallied $2.55," said economist Darrell Good.

A new graduate degree program in technical systems management (TSM) will be offered by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois beginning in August 2011.

According to Joe Harper, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the program's director, students can choose to earn a professional science master's (PSM) degree, for which they will complete an industry internship rather than a traditional research thesis.

The nation's beef herd continues to decline.

"After several years of financial difficulty, producers show no interest in rebuilding the herd," said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt. "As a result, beef supplies will continue to decline and prices will remain strong for several years to come. On the down side, however, beef consumption per person will lag and other animal species will gain a larger market share in coming years, especially chicken."

Researchers at the University of Illinois are measuring the behavior of western corn rootworms in different configurations of insect-resistant transgenic corn plots and adjacent non-transgenic refuges.

Joseph Spencer, insect behaviorist in the Illinois Natural History Survey, said data on the details of rootworm behavior are currently not available for rootworms in transgenic corn.

Sensors currently used to monitor the quality of diesel fuel and biodiesel blended fuels during engine operation are unable to adequately detect certain important fuel quality concerns. Alan Hansen, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Illinois, and his colleagues are working to develop new technologies to improve these commercially-available sensors.

Bruce Curry has been growing pumpkins since he was 12 years old. Today, 37 years later, he's still at it.

"I had a little roadside produce stand selling pumpkins," said Curry. "When I got off the school bus every day, I'd run to a post with a tin can nailed to it — that was the honor-payment system back then -- I'd reach inside and pull out some coins and I was hooked."

Goss's wilt was detected in a corn leaf sample last week at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. Although Goss's wilt has been observed in Illinois in past years, it is not typical, said U of I Extension plant pathologist Carl Bradley.

Goss's wilt, caused by the bacterium Clavibacter michiganense subspecies nebraskensis, is commonly found after hail storms, high winds, and heavy rainfall. Symptoms of this disease appear as large tan to gray lesions on the leaves with dark spots, often referred to as "freckles," within the lesions.

Illinois soybean producers should be on alert for suspicious-looking stink bugs. A stink bug resembling the red-shouldered stink bug was observed south of Champaign, but the report could not be confirmed because the actual specimen was not available for physical examination.

However, Mike Gray, U of I Extension entomologist, warns producers to be vigilant in scouting fields and to report any stink bug species that resemble the red-shouldered, red-banded or brown-marmorated stink bugs.

Splashing around in a swimming pool on a hot summer day may not be as safe as you think. A recent University of Illinois study links the application of disinfectants in recreational pools to previously published adverse health outcomes such as asthma and bladder cancer.

Each year, 339 million visits take place at pools and water parks across the United States. Not only is swimming fun, but it's also the second most popular form of exercise in the country. Because of this, disinfection of recreational pools is critical to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease.

Corn and soybean prices managed an impressive rally during the first half of July, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"That rally was initiated by smaller than expected June inventories and smaller than expected corn acreage revealed in USDA's June 30 reports," Good said, "The rally was supported by strength in wheat prices that reflected declining wheat crop prospects in a number of important production areas."

The list of herbicide resistance in waterhemp populations is growing. University of Illinois weed scientists announced today that basic and applied research have confirmed this broadleaf weed species' resistance to HPPD-inhibiting herbicides commonly used for control of annual broadleaf and grass weed species in corn.

HPPD-inhibiting herbicides (herbicides that inhibit 4-hydroxyphenyl pyruvate dioxygenase) are often foliar-applied and until now have successfully managed waterhemp weed populations common in Illinois and across much of the Midwest.

The USDA's July report of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates contained a number of changes from the June report. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, some of those changes were driven by information in the USDA's June 30 Acreage and Grain Stocks reports and some were driven by changing U.S. and world production prospects.

With corn being a critical U.S. crop expected to help feed livestock and people around the world and also be a source for the production of clean energy, plant breeders are continually seeking ways to make the plants more productive. To better understand the role corn roots play in this regard, an agricultural engineer and a crop scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have teamed up to examine corn root complexity and how it impacts corn development.

Although global grain production must double by 2050 to address rising population and demand, new data from the University of Illinois suggests crop yields will suffer unless new approaches to adapt crop plants to climate change are adopted. Improved agronomic traits responsible for the remarkable increases in yield accomplished during the past 50 years have reached their ceiling for some of the world's most important crops.

Western bean cutworm moths have been spotted in high numbers in Lee County, Illinois. Dale Baird, U of I Extension crop systems educator, reported Tuesday that his two-day capture was the largest he's seen since he began monitoring this insect pest five years ago.

Scouting should begin now, recommends Mike Gray, U of I Extension entomologist. Egg-laying moths are attracted to cornfields that are beginning to pollinate. Fields at highest risk include those with sandy soils located in northern Illinois and Indiana.

Urbana, Ill. -- Students can now earn a Master of Science degree in Technical Systems Management (TSM) from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The new Illinois Professional Science Master's (PSM) is a non-thesis concentration within the TSM M.S. degree program that combines advanced courses in technology systems management with relevant business courses and professional experience.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is adding additional strain to already struggling shrimp and fishing industries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Thousands of shrimpers and fishermen who depend on the region for their livelihood are struggling to retain their businesses following recent major hurricanes, and now, the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The Gulf region accounts for about a fifth of total U.S. commercial seafood production and nearly three-quarters of the nation's shrimp output.

December 2010 corn futures declined about $.40 per bushel during the last half of June as the market focused on favorable crop condition ratings and prospects for a large 2010 harvest. The price pattern was reversed following the June 30 USDA reports, with December 2010 corn futures gaining about $.45 in five trading sessions.

Waterhemp populations resistant to glyphosate are becoming increasingly common across Illinois, said University of Illinois Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager.

"We suspect that resistant biotypes can be found in many areas across Illinois, but would like to improve our understanding of just how widespread these biotypes are right now," Hager said. "Post-emergence applications of glyphosate to soybean fields are occurring at a rapid pace, given the recent spell of good weather."

The 2010 Midsummer Veterinary Conference for Sustainable Agriculture will be held August 12 and 13 at the I Hotel and Convention Center on the University of Illinois campus. The conference will provide information to those serving clients interested in the production and marketing of organic, antibiotic-free, and other non-conventional food animals.

In May, live hog prices averaged about $63 per live hundredweight.

"It is rare for a monthly average hog price to exceed $60," said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt. "Since 1970, that has occurred only 13 times. There have been more blue moons since 1970, a total of 15." A blue moon is defined as a second full moon in the same calendar month, which happens every two or three years.

Events occurring during the development of an infant's brain can leave behind fingerprints. And researchers at the University of Illinois are interested in learning how these fingerprints can predict future behavioral problems such as cognitive deficits, anxiety disorders, depression, and even autism. New U of I research shows that the baby pig may provide some answers.

Wet conditions have Illinois pumpkin growers on the alert for signs of Phytophthora blight in their fields. This disease nearly destroyed the pumpkin industry in 1999, causing up to 100 percent crop losses in parts of the state. While it's not a new disease to this industry, it is the most devastating and it's already showing up in Illinois.

Despite the latest reports that 69 percent of the Illinois corn crop is in good or excellent condition, excessive rains in some areas of the state have farmers downgrading their dreams of a record harvest.

Plants left standing in flooded fields with stunted growth, yellow leaves, shortened internodes and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies are likely to show little or no recovery, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

Human-driven changes in the earth's atmospheric composition are likely to alter plant diseases of the future. Researchers predict carbon dioxide will reach levels double those of the preindustrial era by the year 2050, complicating agriculture's need to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population.

University of Illinois researchers are studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, elevated ozone and higher atmospheric temperatures on plant diseases that could challenge crops in these changing conditions.

As universities tighten budgets and competition increases for research and education grants, collaboration becomes an even more important piece of university strategy. University of Illinois faculty recently met with Marianne Aaro-Hansen from Aarhus University in Denmark to discuss extended collaborations, particularly in the field of animal sciences.

Three upcoming USDA reports will provide important information for the corn and soybean markets, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. The quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report will be released on June 25, and the quarterly Grain Stocks and annual Acreage reports will be released on June 30.

University of Illinois professor Steve Long exchanged ideas and strategies with 11 top scientists at the first meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board to the European Union (EU) Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change in Paris last week.

Fellowships were recently awarded by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board to two PhD candidates in the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Corn rootworms and Japanese beetles are making an appearance in Illinois, said University of Illinois Extension Entomologist Mike Gray.

Despite saturated soils, corn rootworm injury is already showing up in fields across east-central Illinois.

"Unlike the previous two growing seasons, I believe this year's rootworm population had a very good chance to establish on root systems and survive because of the early and quick pace of planting this spring," Gray said.

At the age of 83, when many people have long since retired, University of Illinois researcher Richard Bernard unveiled his 14th variety of Gardensoy edamame.

Bernard has been breeding soybeans and edamame, or vegetable soybeans, since 1954. And he has no intentions of stopping now.

In fact, after the release of Gardensoy 51, he is looking ahead to his next projects: developing varieties that have higher protein content, higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acid, and creating varieties that do not have the genes that cause allergic reactions.

The 2009 U.S. corn and soybean yields are the largest on record, at 164.7 bushels per acre and 44 bushels per acre respectively. Harvested acreage of corn for grain was 1.02 million acres more than that harvested in 2008, although well below the record acreage of 2007. Harvested acreage of soybeans was a record 76.37 million acres, 1.7 million acres more than that harvested in 2008.

The Illini Pullers took first place overall at the 13th Annual ASABE International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition held last weekend in Peoria, Ill. This is the second consecutive year the University of Illinois student design team received top honors at the educational event organized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

Reminders of 2009's challenging corn harvest are cropping up in soybean fields across Illinois. High densities of volunteer corn are requiring growers to take action with post-emergence herbicides.

Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist, said the first step in selecting a herbicide to control volunteer corn is to determine the type of corn planted in 2009.

University of Illinois researchers believe the pig may hold answers for scientists studying breast cancer, a disease that kills 500,000 women worldwide each year.

While extraordinary advances in the understanding of cancer's molecular basis have occurred in the past 10 years, current models for drug testing are not keeping pace.

Illinois Extension Distance Diagnostics celebrated its tenth anniversary last year and the results are in to prove the program's success.

In 2009, more than 780 samples of insects, weeds and plants were submitted and diagnosed by a group of 23 Extension educators and specialists in Illinois. These diagnoses resulted in approximately $500,000 in savings to Illinois residents and a "peace of mind" for many that can't be quantified.

The prices of wheat and soybeans have been trending lower since late April and early May. Corn prices declined sharply last week.

Growing season conditions may be the biggest contributor to poor crop appearance today, rather than inadequate soil fertility, said Fabián Fernández, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition.

"Environmental conditions play an important role in nutrient availability," Fernández said. "Plants obtain most of their nutrients and water from the soil through their root system. Any factor that re¬stricts root growth and activity has the potential to restrict nutrient availability."

The Illinois corn crop is responding well with May reports indicating growing degree accumulations of normal to slightly ahead of normal in Illinois, said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

"Our concerns that the early-planted corn crop would lose its momentum due to cool temperatures are diminishing," Nafziger said. "Except for areas that received excessive rainfall, the weather has been very accommodating this year."

For the current marketing year that runs through August 2010, the USDA projects U.S. corn exports at 1.95 billion bushels. That projection is 92 million bushels larger than exports during the previous marketing year. The projection is about equal to average exports of the previous 10 years that have ranged from 1.588 billion bushels in 2002-03 to 2.437 billion bushels in 2007-08.

"With one quarter remaining in the marketing year, there is mixed evidence of the likelihood of reaching the USDA's export projection," said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

The University of Illinois Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth has scheduled its 2010 Field Day for Wednesday, July 7. Attendees will hear directly from U of I faculty and Extension educators on the latest research in key areas related to crop production.

Field day tours of the research center begin at 8 a.m. with each tour taking about two hours to complete. The tours depart every half hour with the last tour departing at 9 a.m.

During the tour, U of I faculty and Extension educators will discuss the following topics:

The year-long Central Illinois Farm Beginnings education program has added another component to further cultivate relationships between farmers who are interested in sustainability and to provide opportunities to share information and develop mentorships — The Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN).

Due to heavy rainfall in parts of western, northwestern and southern Illinois, some farmers are considering the decision to replant thin soybean stands.

Vince Davis, University of Illinois Extension soybean specialist, suggests farmers with partial stands of soybeans that are still in early growth stages have three options to consider. They can leave soybean stands alone, repair plant (no-till plant additional seeds into existing stands), or terminate the existing stand and replant an entire new stand of soybeans.

Ample soil moisture and warm temperatures are resulting in rapid corn growth as well as rapid weed development. In order to get the most effective results from post-emergence herbicides, University of Illinois Extension Weed Specialist Aaron Hager offers a few recommendations.

In an effort to establish welfare-friendly guidelines on how to effectively manage gestating sows, researchers at the University of Illinois are studying the impact of stall design on sow behavior and well-being.

"Sows have changed," said Janeen Salak-Johnson, U of I associate professor of animal sciences. "We need to change with them. Our research shows that modifications of stall design may have a positive effect on sow behavior and well-being."

The 12th Annual Illinois Leadership Conference will be held on June 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Jumer's Chateau Hotel in Bloomington, Ill. The conference is designed for any individual in a leadership position, serving on a board of directors, or working on community projects or with committees seeking to manage and lead more effectively.

"We encourage anyone to attend who would like to learn more about turning ideas into action in their community or their organization," said Anne Silvis, University of Illinois Extension specialist.

Hog and pork markets probably won't be able to maintain the excitement of this spring when live hog prices reached the mid-$60s per hundredweight in early- to mid-May, said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt.

Some companies are promoting foliar fungicide use on corn at early growth stages, such as V5 or V6 (when 5 or 6 leaf collars have developed). While there are some advantages of this timing as far as the ability to apply fungicide with a ground applicator and to tank-mix it with a post-emergence herbicide, this early application may not provide any advantage in disease control.

The revolutionary food production research of James Pettigrew was honored this week at Alltech's 26th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Ky.

Pettigrew, a University of Illinois professor in the department of animal science, was honored for his work in addressing the challenges of feeding an increasing global population.

Maximizing investment returns is at the forefront of every farmer's mind. One of the most expensive investments farmers make is the application of nitrogen for corn. Every year farmers determine how much nitrogen is needed to maximize profitability and reduce the potential for water quality degradation associated with nitrogen use in farming operations.

With 96 percent of the corn crop planted and 78 percent emerged by mid-May, there should be a lot of joy about the 2010 Illinois corn crop. Instead, many farmers are discussing the need to replant and other woes. Most have observed that the crop is not growing well, and that it has poor color. So, is the crop off to the great start discussed several weeks ago or not?

University of Illinois Extension educators are evaluating herbicide use patterns among grass hay and straw producers.

In 2008, the 39 compost facilities in Illinois processed 497,421 tons of landscape waste, a 24 percent increase from 2007. It is expected that this will continue to rise as more composting facilities are approved.

Questions are surfacing about the likely timing of the annual corn rootworm larval hatch, said Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

Some believe this biological event coincides with the first sightings of lightning bugs in the spring. Gray suggests that while these events may happen at the same time, they are unrelated and not a good estimate of when this hatch will occur.

Data suggests that the hatch may be just around the corner for central Illinois, Gray said.

Consumers have reason to celebrate the approach of June Dairy Month, said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

Not only have dairy products remained a "good buy" for consumers, but the nutritional importance of dairy products in the diet continues to play a foundational role in human health and development.

June Dairy Month marks the mid-point of 2010, a year that continues to be an economic challenge to dairy producers, said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Dairy managers are recovering from huge financial losses in 2009 after losing $3 a day, or $800 to $1,000 per cow," Hutjens said. "Milk prices dropped nearly 40 percent in 2009 before returning to break-even prices this past December. Unfortunately, milk prices declined again in February below break-even milk prices of $16 per one hundred pounds."

In response to unprecedented cuts in state funding, University of Illinois Extension announced today a map of how local county Extension programs will be administered.

Looking a 900-pound heifer in the eye was a first-time experience for Ronald Stewart, a junior in animal sciences at the University of Illinois. When Stewart came to the U of I, he had big dreams — to play football and become a veterinarian. Not only did he walk onto the football team last fall, but he also tackled the task of working cattle through a chute system during beef lab this past semester.

Significant interest always surrounds the USDA's first projections of crop supply and consumption for the upcoming marketing year. Those projections for the 2010-11 marketing year were released on May 11.

"Early season forecasts are often not very accurate due to all the unknowns surrounding future supply and consumption," said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. "Still, the first USDA forecasts establish a benchmark and many analysts recalibrate projections based on USDA analysis."

Soybean producers are encouraged to examine roots of soybean plants that exhibit yellowing of leaves this year. If roots are infested with small, white insects, report these findings to Mike Gray, U of I Extension entomologist. They could be trochanter mealybugs.

Trochanter mealybugs are root feeders that remove fluids from plant tissue with their piercing and sucking mouthparts. The host range for trochanter mealybugs is large and includes many legumes such as alfalfa, red clover, white clover and soybeans. They have also been collected from corn, Johnsongrass and sorghum.

The EZRegs website developed by University of Illinois Extension specialists has been updated to include new information on key agricultural environmental regulations. Located at www.ezregs.illinois.edu, the website identifies environmental regulations that pertain to a variety of agricultural related areas, including livestock production, food crop production, ornamental horticulture production, landscape maintenance, and small-scale animal facilities.

Weather conditions allowed many farmers to plant corn early this year. However, due to 2009's late harvest, many acres with corn already growing still need to be fertilized with nitrogen.

Fabián Fernández, U of I Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, ranked his choices for nitrogen application based on availability, crop protection, nitrogen loss reduction and cost minimization. His rankings follow.

First choice: Injected anhydrous ammonia or urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution between rows

On May 6, University of Illinois officials signed a memorandum of understanding with Njala University of the West African country of Sierra Leone to partner in the rebuilding of the university it helped establish 46 years ago.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, a large number of factors continue to exert some influence on the prices of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

"A different factor appears to take the spotlight on an almost daily basis," Good said. "Some developments have been positive for crop prices, some negative. As a result, prices continue to be very choppy."

The traditional practice of finishing cattle on corn may not be the only way to achieve high marbling, a desirable characteristic of quality beef.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered that high-quality beef and big per-head profits can be achieved by starting early-weaned cattle on corn and finishing them on a diet high in co-products.

The Illinois State Horticultural Society's 2010 Horticultural Field Day will take place on June 10 at Broom Orchard in Carlinville.

Students at Southern Illinois University are eating ultra-fresh produce due to a relationship between SIU housing and two local farms, which are the destination of the next sustainable agriculture tour sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

The tour will take place on Friday, June 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., beginning at Mulberry Hill Farm in Carbondale. Later, the tour will caravan to Farmer Brown's Production Company in Pomona.

Behind the limelight of early corn planting in Illinois this spring stands a less-than-favorable wheat crop. With 69 percent of the state's wheat crop rated "fair" or worse, the 2010 crop is one of the lowest-rated crops in recent memory. It also occupies the smallest acreage since records began in 1866. It's time for growers to determine if their wheat crop is worth keeping.

The latest findings in dairy research will be presented at the 2010 Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference on June 9-10 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

This conference, a collaboration of Extension professionals from Iowa State University, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin, was developed to provide timely research information for dairy industry professionals.

As authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, producers on eligible farms may elect to participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program. ACRE is designed to provide revenue support to farmers as an alternative to the price support that farmers are used to receiving from commodity programs. Through the ACRE program, a state payment will be made when state revenue is less than the state guarantee.

December 2010 corn futures traded to a high of $3.95 in mid-April, retreated to a low of $3.67 early last week, and then rallied back to $3.95. The current price is about $.40 above the contract low established in early September 2009 and about $.75 below the high reached in early June 2009. The contract high, reached in mid-2008, is over $7.00.

Farmers need to think twice when using soil insecticides in corn this spring.

Due to the commercialization of corn hybrids with resistance to certain insect pests, the use of soil insecticides has declined greatly, said Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist. However, some farmers plan to use soil insecticides at planting this season to control "other" insect pests and suppress certain corn nematodes.

Life without atrazine would complicate weed management in corn, especially for sweet corn growers.

A study at the University of Illinois looked at 175 sweet corn fields in the Midwest to find out just how important this 50-year-old, broad-spectrum herbicide is in sweet corn grown for processing.

In the race to find answers about ovarian cancer, researchers now have something to cluck about. For five years, University of Illinois researchers have been using the chicken as a model to study this deadly disease and have recently discovered that a diet enriched with flaxseed decreases severity of ovarian cancer and increases survival in hens.

Flaxseed is the richest plant source of alpha-linolenic acid, one type of omega-3 fatty acid. Several studies have already shown that flaxseed inhibits the formation of colon, breast, skin and lung tumors.

For every action, there is a reaction. With nearly 75 percent of the Illinois corn crop now planted, experts are discussing the potential reaction of insect populations to this year's early corn planting.

For several insects that migrate into Illinois each season, the severity of the infestation from year to year depends upon the intensity and timing of their migration flights. These insects include corn leaf aphids, corn earworms, black cutworms and fall armyworms.

As soybean growers plan how many seeds to "drop" in the ground this year, University of Illinois Extension soybean specialist Vince Davis said the current economic environment will play a much bigger factor in this decision than ever before.

"Soybean seeding rate is a decision that has become more economically critical as soybean seed prices have increased with improved varieties, the addition of biotechnology traits, and the increasing popularity of soybean seed treatments," Davis said.

In contrast to the past two planting seasons, many farmers are already witnessing emerging corn. Because of the rapid planting progress, some farmers may have corn emerging in fields where a soil-residual herbicide was planned but not yet applied. Questions are arising about whether herbicides can be applied to emerging corn.

Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist, said the answer depends on the respective herbicide. Many, but not all, herbicides that are typically applied prior to corn planting or emergence may be applied after corn has emerged.

In a few short months, cattle prices have staged a seemingly miraculous comeback. In December, finished cattle were $80 per hundredweight, now they are $100 per hundredweight. Calves were $1.05 per pound, now they are over $1.30 per pound.

"Suddenly, owning cattle looks like a stroke of genius," said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt.

In the haste to plant corn, producers with stands of alfalfa should not neglect scouting efforts for alfalfa weevils.

Mike Gray, U of I Extension entomologist, said southern Illinois producers should begin scouting now as leaf feeding by first and second-instar larvae is under way in many fields across southern Illinois. Central Illinois producers should begin scouting within the next week to 10 days.

University of Illinois researchers have found one more way swine producers may be able to save money on feed costs this year.

For decades, swine producers have recognized an increase in growth and performance when virginiamycin is added to their corn-soybean meal feed rations. U of I researchers have recently discovered that this increase in growth is partly due to increased ileal amino acid digestibility.

Prices for the 2010 corn and soybean crops experienced some weakness immediately following the March 31 USDA reports, but made substantial gains in the following two weeks. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, that rebound appears to be ending.

Farmers who don't rely on or want to minimize the use of chemical herbicides need creative solutions to win the battle against aggressive perennial weeds. In ongoing research at the University of Illinois on Canada thistle, Sudangrass is proving to be a worthy contender as a summer smother crop.

U.S. News & World Report recently announced its 2010 ranking of the best engineering schools in the United States. U.S. News surveyed 198 programs to get the information used in the ranking. This year, the top-ranked graduate program in agricultural and biological engineering was awarded to the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Illinois basil growers are advised to be on alert for downy mildew, a destructive new disease expected to plague basil this year. University of Illinois plant pathologists first discovered this disease late last August and predict it will be an annually-occurring disease.

"Illinois's conditions are favorable for it," said Mohammad Babadoost, U of I Extension plant pathologist. "I suspect basil downy mildew will be here for years to come based on the history of downy mildews in other crops. We are focused on doing all we can to control it."

The National Institute for Farm Safety (NIFS) will hold its 2010 annual conference on June 27 to July 1 at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside in Wilmington, N.C. NIFS is dedicated to the professional development of agricultural safety and health professionals.

"Educational activities during this year's conference will focus on common safety hazards and health issues associated with forestry, farming, and fishing," said Robert (Chip) Petrea, University of Illinois agricultural research specialist and NIFS organizational secretary.

Challenges imposed by unfavorable environmental conditions during and after last fall's harvest continue to plague farmers. In many areas, fall herbicide applications were delayed or precluded after the 2009 harvest. As a result, fall-emerging weeds became well established before the onset of winter conditions.

The start of the 2010 growing season for corn and soybeans is fundamentally different than the start for the 2008 and 2009 growing seasons, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. Differences are on both the supply and consumption sides of the market.

For corn, the 2008 season started with very high and rising prices, a sharp decline in planted acreage, and projections of 2008-09 marketing year ending stocks barely exceeding pipeline inventories. "Supply concerns were magnified by spring flooding in parts of the Corn Belt," Good said.

The 1996 U.S. Farm Bill eliminated many acreage restrictions, thereby allowing farmers to plant what they believe to be their most competitive crops. A study conducted by University of Illinois agricultural economists evaluated subsequent acreage changes across crops to better understand which crops have been most profitable during a period when farm legislation contains few acreage constraints.

Pyramided corn hybrids (SmartStax) are making their debut this planting season with a refuge reduction from 20 percent to 5 percent in the Corn Belt. The increased use of Bt hybrids as the foundation of corn insect management programs makes establishing refuge requirements critical.

As corn and soybean producers look ahead to a new growing season, a universal question arises. What insects will pose a threat to crops this year? Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist, shares his predictions about Japanese beetles, soybean aphids, European corn borers and western corn rootworms.

Japanese beetle infestations will continue to vex producers this year, Gray said. Despite the cold winter, snow cover across many areas of Illinois most likely served as a buffer and enhanced the survival of overwintering grubs.

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) populations are adapting and raising questions about the effectiveness of PI 88788, one of the main sources of SCN resistance in soybean varieties.

University of Illinois research shows PI 88788 still does a good job of controlling nematodes, but new gene combinations derived from wild soybean may hold answers for the future.

A relatively simple procedure that verifies where and when cattle are born could allow ranchers in southern Illinois to trade lower commodity prices for higher premiums according to a recent research project conducted at the University of Illinois.

The Processed Verified Program (PVP) for Age and Source verification was suggested to ranchers in southern Illinois as the first of several steps toward adding value to their cattle operations.

The USDA's estimates of March 1 stocks of soybeans and corn were generally larger than expected. At 1.27 billion bushels, soybean inventories were as much as 70 million bushels larger than expected. At 7.7 billion bushels, corn stocks were about 200 million above expectations.

However, the relevant issue is not really the size of stocks versus expectations, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

In March, University of Illinois students traveled to Washington, D.C., to study current policy issues impacting U.S. agriculture, and the legislative process for developing public policies. The trip was organized through an agribusiness leadership and policy course offered by the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE). The educational trip has been offered in recent years during the spring semester.

Do you have a small acreage, but aren't sure what to do with it? University of Illinois Extension is offering a new program, Living on the Land (LOL), to educate small acreage owners. The course will help landowners inventory resources, develop goals to implement sustainable best management practices, and evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities.

Despite high unemployment rates, the need for plant breeders is increasing. The University of Illinois Plant Breeding Center (IPBC) is expanding opportunities for students to meet this need.

Rita Mumm, director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Center, estimates that U.S. institutions educating master's degree and Ph.D. plant breeders are meeting less than two-thirds of the industry's demand.

University of Illinois researchers may have debunked the myth that foliar fungicides can improve corn's tolerance to hail damage.

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted a supplemental label registration for use of Headline fungicide on registered crops for disease control and plant health. This label stated that the fungicide can provide a benefit of "better tolerance to hail" in corn.

The latest inventory count from USDA indicates the greater liquidation of the breeding herd will drop pork production more than had been anticipated. Reduced supplies will be complemented by much stronger demand given recovery in the U.S. economy and continuing expansion of pork exports.

"This means robust profits will return for producers," said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt. Profits are forecast at about $18 per head this year, compared to an average loss of $20 per head in 2008 and 2009.

University of Illinois researchers recently identified a new soybean aphid biotype that can multiply on aphid-resistant soybean varieties. Soybean aphids are the No. 1 insect threat to soybean production in the North Central region of the United States.

Last year, aphid infestation on soybean was high enough that many growers had to spray their fields to control aphids. Despite this, many aphids survived and took flight last fall causing a public nuisance. Migrating soybean aphids have delayed Major League baseball games, closed outdoor cafes and curtailed outdoor activities.

Pay close attention to your child's high school assignments. They may become a family business one day. That's how Lynn Wilken got into the worm business.

His son A.J. needed a project for Future Farmers of America. "Worms were a hobby for me," said Wilken. "About four years ago, A.J. took it over as an FFA project. He worked at building it up, and took it to the FFA contests." Today, producing vermicompost is a part of the Wilken's diversified farming operation.

Researchers at the University of Illinois are questioning the importance of adding sulfur to corn crops and are looking for volunteers to participate in an on-farm research study to measure corn's response to sulfur.

In 2009, Fabián Fernández, U of I Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, began a research project studying the response of corn to sulfur. While some locations in Illinois showed no response to sulfur, some locations did show a response.

University of Illinois Extension specialists in crop sciences will launch the first issue of The Bulletin Thursday. As a new crop year gets under way with temperatures climbing above 60 degrees, farmers, industry representatives and media can find the latest Extension news in this publication.

Nearly 40 youth swine producers ages 8 to 12 discovered the importance of their role in producing a safe, quality meat product at the 2010 National Junior Swine Association Boot Camp at the University of Illinois on Saturday.

"The U of I was honored to partner with the NJSA to provide an opportunity for our future agriculture industry leaders to gather together and learn more about the swine industry," said Dan Shike, U of I assistant professor in animal sciences.

Mark your calendars for an opportunity to learn about the latest discoveries in crop sciences during the 54th-annual Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 19.

"Agronomy Day is a great venue for farmers, industry leaders, gardeners and the general public to find out about research in crop science and horticulture at the U of I," said Bob Dunker, superintendent of the U of I South Farms and chairperson for Agronomy Day.

The consumption of U.S. soybeans has a very clear seasonal pattern. That pattern is modest for the domestic crush and very pronounced for exports.

For the 10 years from 1999-00 through 2008-09, an average of 51.7 percent of the domestic crush occurred in the first half of the marketing year. Percentages were in a narrow range of 50.2 percent in 2006-07 to 55.1 percent in 2003-04.

News reports surfaced last fall detailing flash fires and explosions in livestock buildings while liquid pit manure was being agitated and pumped. For this reason, University of Illinois Extension staff are urging caution when agitating and pumping manure from pits beneath buildings. So far, this phenomenon has occurred mainly in pits under swine buildings that have foam above the manure in the pit.

Agricultural businesses that develop and market corn seed varieties typically use high school students or other unskilled labour to walk their experimental fields counting corn stalks. The information is useful in determining important seed qualities and planter efficiency. This tedious task often leads to significant counting errors and inconsistencies.

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at the University of Illinois have discovered widespread occurrence of plant-parasitic nematodes in the first reported nematode survey of Miscanthus and switchgrass plants used for biofuels.

Lead researcher Tesfamariam Mekete, a U of I post-doctoral research associate, said the team's first step was to identify potential pathogenic nematodes of these top two energy-yielding cellulosic-ethanol feedstock plants.

The USDA will release two reports on March 31 that could have significance for corn and soybean prices. These are the March 1 Grain Stocks report and the annual Prospective Plantings report.

"The quarterly stocks report for corn may be more important this year than in a typical year," said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. "There are still unresolved questions about the size of the 2009 harvest and the impact that quality of the 2009 crop has had on domestic consumption."

Late planting, cool summer temperatures, and a wet October caused the 2009 harvest to go down in history as one of the latest on record. As a result, many fields were not tilled last fall.

Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, said this will cause challenges this spring.

Edamame are creating a stir. This healthy, protein-packed, fresh vegetable fits a modern "on-the-go" lifestyle. And while the crop has been around for thousands of years, it is now gaining popularity as a "new crop" in Illinois.

Edamame, also known as vegetable soybeans, are popping up in Illinois grocery stores, farmers' markets and even in the McDonald's Asian salad. Magazines showcase Hollywood celebrities and their children snacking on these low-fat beans that are nutritious and fun to eat.

Consumers appreciate the benefits and versatility of this food.

It is not uncommon for daily fluctuations in corn prices to be attributed to fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies. So, what is the connection?

From the side of the U.S. corn importer, a lower valued dollar in relation to the currency of that country, all else equal, is in effect a reduction in the price of corn. A lower price to the importer might be expected to result in larger imports. That is, there would be a movement down the demand curve to a new, larger equilibrium of quantity supplied and quantity demanded.

Slight modifications to sow gestation stalls may provide answers to one of the most controversial issues facing the swine industry.

"In the United States, the individual gestation stall is being banned based on perception, not science," said Janeen Salak-Johnson, a University of Illinois associate professor in animal sciences.

False statements and emotional untruths regarding livestock production are winning the hearts and minds of the "typical" American consumer. Next spring, University of Illinois animal science freshmen will learn about these fundamental societal issues that are impacting the care and use of production animals in a new course titled "Contemporary Animal Issues."

Nitrogen fertilization is essential for profitable corn production. It also is a major cost of production and can contribute to degradation of the environment. Is it possible to "teach" corn to fix its own nitrogen, thus eliminating the need for nitrogen fertilizer applications? University of Illinois agricultural engineer Kaustubh Bhalerao believes it may be, through research in an emerging area of engineering called synthetic biology.

URBANA - Teachers—grades 4-10—and informal educators will have the opportunity to learn about and contribute to Lake Michigan science on a week-long Shipboard and Shoreline Science workshop offered by COSEE Great Lakes (Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence).

The workshop—aboard the U.S. EPA's 180-foot research vessel, Lake Guardian—coincides with the Lake Michigan Intensive Monitoring Field Year, which is a part of an agreement between EPA and Environment Canada to focus on and conduct intensive monitoring in one of the Great Lakes each year.

Workshops designed to help individuals better understand world agricultural markets and associated risk management strategies have been scheduled for 2010. The two-day workshops, sponsored by the University of Illinois and conducted by instructors with professional industry experience, will be held at the Illini Center in Chicago. Both an introductory course and an intermediate to advanced course are available.

Return to profitability is the theme for the pork industry in 2010. The large losses began in the fall of 2007. It has been nine quarters of losses, with some very large losses. Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt said, "those losses were a result of soaring feed prices in 2007 and 2008, the recession in late 2008 and 2009, and a dose of H1N1 flu virus that sickened pork demand.

"But let's look forward where the sun is shining. The pork industry will benefit this year from reductions in supply, improvements in demand, and some moderation in feed costs."

As a new planting season gets under way, University of Illlinois Extension Weed Specialist Aaron Hager cautions farmers to be aware of the differences between glufosinate and glyphosate, the active ingredients in two popular herbicides, before starting weed control applications.

URBANA -- Relatively low prices for soft red winter wheat have persisted even as domestic supplies have been reduced, but the potential for a very small 2010 soft winter wheat harvest suggests some continued strengthening of the basis.

"July 2010 futures prices at Chicago are near the low end of the range experienced since September 2009. However, cash bids for harvest delivery in southern Illinois reflect a much stronger basis than has been experienced over the past three years," said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist.

For the eighth consecutive year, University of Illinois Extension is offering tours that highlight sustainable agriculture operations around the state of Illinois.

"This year's tours truly represent the vast diversity in Illinois's small farms," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist who is coordinating the tours. "The tours allow visitors to meet these extraordinarily, creative farmers and producers and find out how they solve their unique problems every day."

University of Illinois researcher Hans H. Stein launched a new Web site to make his swine nutrition research more accessible and more applicable for producers and feed companies.

Stein's Web site, http://nutrition.ansci.illinois.edu/, features a number of information resources and tools to help producers formulate diets, including spreadsheets detailing energy and nutrient digestibility for a variety of feed ingredients and calculators to help formulate cost-efficient diets.

Illinois farmers know corn nematodes are a problem. Nearly 80 percent of attendees at the Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics agreed this was true in surveys conducted across the state by U of I Extension Nematologist Terry Niblack. However, fewer than 20 percent plan to do anything about it.

"Farmers think corn nematodes are a big problem, but they're someone else's problem," Niblack said. "Nematodes are the most frequently overlooked cause of disease in Illinois corn."

As the marketing year nears its midpoint, prospects for the year are coming into better focus. In its February report, USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board revised projections of 2009-10 marketing year corn and soybean exports.

U.S. corn exports for the current marketing year are projected at 2 billion bushels — 50 million below the January projection, but 142 million above the very low level of a year ago. The projection is 437 million bushels below the record exports established in the 2007-08 marketing year.

MarketMaker, an interactive website developed by University of Illinois Extension researchers, helps Walmart offer its customers a larger variety of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables by connecting producers, processors, retailers, consumers, and other food supply chain participants.

"While Walmart is by far our biggest customer, MarketMaker is a resource to everyone who buys and sells food regardless of size," said Darlene Knipe, University of Illinois Extension specialist and co-developer of the site.

Workshops have been scheduled to provide Illinois livestock producers the manure management training they need to meet the requirements of the state's Livestock Management Facilities Act. The last three Certified Livestock Manager Training workshops for 2010 will be held on Feb. 23, Feb. 24, and March 9.

ExplorACES is a two-day event designed to introduce high school students and their families with the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The event is scheduled for Friday, March 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Details about ExplorACES can be found at http://aces.illinois.edu/ExplorACES/

In January, University of Illinois students traveled to Sierra Leone to participate in a short course on international nutrition and food security held at Njala University, and to assist in assessing the nutritional needs of several rural communities in the West African country.

The month-long decline in corn and soybean prices has slowed, and signs of a near-term low have emerged. March soybean futures have held at the $9.00 level that has provided support since May 2009. March corn futures have not tested the low near $3.20 established in September 2009 and appear to have established near-term support around $3.50.

As swine producers continue to find ways to survive in today's economic situation, researchers at the University of Illinois are exploring alternative feedstuffs in growing pig diets to provide producers with more options.

In January, University of Illinois students studying agricultural economics and finance traveled to Central America for a 10-day study abroad opportunity. The students left the comforts of central Illinois to better understand some of the food-related challenges of Guatemala, and to provide assistance in improving small-scale soymilk processing.

The cattle industry should be on the mend in 2010, says Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt. Available supplies of beef will drop in the United States as production declines and exports increase. "Demand will be better at home as the U.S. economy continues to climb back from the depths of the recession," he said.

Soil testing, cover crops, rotational grazing and selecting the right equipment are some of the topics that will be addressed at six New Farmer Field Days being offered this spring and summer for small-scale farming operations.

"The Central Illinois Farm Beginnings (CIFB) Field Days are geared toward people interested in launching a small farm business that is both economically and environmentally sustainable," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture and CIFB co-facilitator.

Perennial grasses could become popular biomass crops in the future. Many perceive these grasses require little to no management for insects or other pests. However, researchers are finding rather than being pest-free, the identity of insect pests and their effects on harvestable biomass are simply not yet known.

The sharp decline in winter wheat seedings in 2009 has analysts guessing how that acreage will be divided among spring-planted crops in 2010. It's an important question that will affect grain markets in the coming months.

"The first question is, how many of these acres will get planted to all crops?" said Darrel Good, U of I Extension economist.

He says there are 6.2 million unplanted acres of winter wheat and the 2.4 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts that matured in 2009 and were not extended.

A new farm management tool estimates the amount of Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payments a farm will receive for its 2009 crop. The ACRE payment estimator is available for download from the farm analysis solution tools (FAST) section of the farmdoc website at www.farmdoc.illinois.edu.

Producers interested in growing biomass crops can eliminate financial risk through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Jody Endres, senior regulatory associate at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois, discussed how BCAP can benefit producers at the 2010 Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium held last week in Champaign.

The prices of corn, soybeans, and wheat remain under pressure a week after the release of USDA reports revealing surprisingly large supplies. Soybean prices were declining before the reports were released, but March 2010 futures have declined an additional $.40 in the past five trading sessions. March 2009 corn futures have declined about $.50, and March 2009 wheat futures are down about $.70.

After years of research and collaboration, a miscanthus rhizome regeneration harvester and planter system has been developed and was unveiled for the first time at the University of Illinois Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The new harvester and planter machine package is the result of a three-year collaboration between U of I, Tomax Ltd, and Bermuda King USA. This machinery can lower the cost of miscanthus rhizome production by up to 40 percent and create opportunities for miscanthus to be used more widely as a high-yield bioenergy crop.

The evidence is in the news: bio-based replacements for petroleum are coming on line soon. Liquid fuels and other valuable products from biomass such as crop residues and wood waste are being successfully produced today in several pilot plants across the U.S. As companies scale up these biorefineries, they will need millions of tons of biomass to feed those processes. The biomass supply chain needs to be developed at the same time as the biorefinery, without assuming supplies will just appear, paid for, at the refiner's gate.

On January 12, the USDA released a number of reports important for crop markets. Those reports included final production estimates for 2009 U.S. crops; December 1, 2009 stocks estimates; U.S. winter wheat seedings estimates; and updated world supply and consumption projections for the 2009 to 2010 marketing year.

A two-day workshop for individuals wanting to strengthen their understanding of agricultural markets is scheduled for February 22 to 23 at the Illini Center in Chicago. The workshop, sponsored by the Office for Futures and Options Research at the University of Illinois, covers a wealth of information to provide an intermediate to advanced level understanding of world agricultural markets.

University of Illinois agricultural economist Eugene Kunda and agricultural consultant Sue Goll collaborate in teaching the workshop.

University of Illinois Extension is hosting four livestock manure management workshops in February and March to provide hands-on assistance to Illinois livestock producers and managers in using the Illinois Manure Management Plan (IMMP) website located at www.IMMP.uiuc.edu. The IMMP website offers step-by-step instructions for developing manure management plans that comply with the requirements of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that feasts on corn roots and corn silk and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the U.S., also can survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.

U.S hog producers expect to realize some relief for their businesses this coming year. "Thank goodness hog producers have put 2008 and 2009 behind them," said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt. "They lost about $20 per hog produced, which totaled nearly $5 billion in the two years. For them, 2010 represents more than just a new year, it brings improving prospects for business survival, a breath of fresh air in a financially drowning industry."

In what amounted to a kind of census of sweet corn grown for processing, three years of data from 175 fields in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota shed light on what works and what doesn't. Along with identifying the most troublesome weeds, the results also revealed some of the more complicated relationships among factors influencing both weed control and sweet corn yield in the Midwest.

A new miscanthus rhizome root harvester and planter will be unveiled at the seventh annual Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium on Monday, Jan. 11 and Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Ill.

In collaboration with the University of Illinois, European bioenergy developer, Tomax Ltd., and Oklahoma machinery manufacturer, Bermuda King, will reveal how the Rizomgen™ Harvester /Planter package can save 50 percent on existing rhizome harvesting and planting costs.

Frustrated farmers are questioning why their soybean yields have been lagging, despite the incredible yields some participants have achieved in soybean yield contests. From 1950 to 2005, yields have increased by an average of 1.1 percent per year. This linear trend has come to a halt in the most recent half decade.

A $900,000 USDA grant will help researchers at the University of Illinois advance the knowledge and practical use of frozen boar semen in swine herds across the United States.

The USDA released its monthly report of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates on December 10. "That report did not contain large changes for corn, soybeans, and wheat, which is not unusual for the December report," said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

The Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism, and Organic Conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield January 6 through 9.

The conference will include special interest tracks of presentations on fruits, vegetables, herbs, agritourism/marketing, irrigation/business management, and two new tracks devoted to information on organics.

Basis levels for winter wheat remain generally weak, particularly for soft red winter wheat in southern Illinois. On December 4, cash bids were $.77 to $.95 under December futures in western Kansas, $.63 to $.89 under December futures in Ohio, and $1.08 to $2.02 under December futures in southern Illinois.

Individuals engaged in the agricultural marketplace wanting to better understand world agricultural markets and associated risk management strategies will have opportunity to attend a two-day workshop scheduled for January 25-26 at the Illini Center in Chicago. The workshop, sponsored by the University of Illinois, will provide an in-depth update on the latest trends in the world agricultural marketplace, grain flow, transportation, regulation, hedging, basis trading, spreads, market reports, and options.

Urbana - In an area of Champaign County that is often characterized as "flat as a pancake," a dirt berm 300 feet long and 13 feet high definitely catches your eye as you drive onto the campus of the University of Illinois. The berm is located south of the campus on the research farm of the U of I Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE).

While the late, slow harvest and a solid rate of consumption explain much of the recent strength in corn and soybean prices, those factors do not appear to explain all of it. According to University of Illinois Economist Darrel Good, the market is well aware, for example, that the pace of U.S. soybean exports and export sales will slow dramatically by the spring of 2010.

News reports have surfaced this fall detailing flash fires and explosions in livestock buildings while liquid pit manure was being agitated and pumped. For this reason, University of Illinois Extension staff are urging caution when agitating and pumping manure from pits beneath buildings. So far, this phenomenon has occurred mainly in pits under swine buildings that have foam above the manure in the pit.

Bankruptcy is a terrible word, but one that indicates the pork industry is entering the "last leg down" in this cycle. Attorneys for several large producers have posted the "out of business" sign in recent months. Lenders to hog operations are increasingly facing the facts for their poorest performing loans -- if the producer quits now, what can the lender recover? The bleak answer, in some cases, is not much since foreclosed hog buildings may have little value if forced on the market right now.

The roller coaster ride continued this past year for Illinois agriculture. To assist producers in navigating these challenges, a series of five meetings are scheduled across Illinois in December sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The theme of this year's 2009 Illinois Farm Economics Summit is "The Profitability of Illinois Agriculture: Profitability at a Crossroads."

Congress is considering a climate bill that would set the nation's first-ever mandatory limits on heat-trapping gases in an effort to curb global warming. Agricultural economist Madhu Khanna, an expert on environmental policy, discusses the potential consequences for the nation's farmers in an interview with News Bureau Business & Law Editor Jan Dennis.

What are the implications for agriculture under the climate bills now floating in the House and Senate, which propose a cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions?

In the short run, another round of harvest delays has supported corn and soybean prices, and strong demand for corn for ethanol may also provide longer term support. However, according to University of Illinois Economist Darrel Good, at some point, the soybean market may suffer from a very large South American harvest.

Corn and soybean prices continue to trade in a relatively wide range, but are currently near the highs of the past 10 weeks, and Good says basis levels have weakened some as harvest accelerated.

The USDA's November Crop Production report forecast the size of the 2009 U.S. soybean crop at 3.319 billion bushels, 69 million bushels larger than the October forecast, and the 2009 corn crop at 12.921 billion bushels, 97 million bushels smaller than the October forecast.

"With these forecasts, price patterns will now reflect the pace of harvest, which has accelerated rapidly over the past 10 days; the progress of South American crops; and perceptions about the strength of demand," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension economist.

URBANA - The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois is partnering with Illinois community colleges on a new collaborative initiative called ACES ACCESS.

Using a wet ethanol production method that begins by soaking corn kernels rather than grinding them, results in more gallons of ethanol and more usable co-products, giving ethanol producers a bigger bang for their buck — by about 20 percent.

"The conventional ethanol production method has fewer steps, but other than distillers dried grains with soluble, it doesn't have any other co-products," said University of Illinois Agricultural Engineer Esha Khullar.

With late planting of corn, a cool summer, and a record wet fall many crop and livestock producers are faced with questions and concerns with corn over 25 to 30 percent moisture, presence of yeast, molds, and mycotoxins. And University of Illinois specialists are scheduled to answer these questions and concerns in a Webinar on Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 from Noon to 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

University of Illinois specialists will provide the most current information about crop production, pest management, and economics at the 2010 U of I Corn and Soybean Classics, which will be presented at 6 regional conference sites between January 6 and January 14.

The University of Illinois invites agriculturalists to the 2009 AGMasters Conference, which will take place December 1 and 2 at the I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign, Illinois.

"The planners of this conference have scheduled speakers and topics that will give participants the latest and most timely information about crop production and crop protection," said Mike Gray, U of I professor of crop sciences.

Among the many interesting topics include: * Global Agriculture 2010 and Beyond

* Raising the Yield Bar: Can We Get Corn to 300 Bushels?

With near record rainfall in October, Illinois' harvest-season weather conditions are outside the experience of modern history, and more time will be required to fully evaluate the impacts, according to University of Illinois Economist Darrel Good.

"The late planted and late maturing corn and soybean crops of 2009 are now experiencing one of the slowest harvest rates in modern history. As of October 25, the USDA reported only 20 percent of the corn crop and 44 percent of the soybean crop had been harvested," Good said.

A global collaborative has produced a first draft of the genome of a domesticated pig, an achievement that will lead to new insights in agriculture, medicine, conservation and evolution.

A red-haired Duroc pig from a farm at the University of Illinois will now be among the growing list of domesticated animals that have had their genomes sequenced. Researchers will announce the achievement Monday (Nov. 2) at a meeting at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, U.K.

Delayed wheat plantings this fall make crop insurance decision critical and several deadlines loom for producers.

Farm-level crop insurance policies, including Actual Production History (APH), Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC) and Revenue Assurance (RA) policies, have late planting and prevented planting provisions," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I professor of farm management. "Group Risk Plan (GRP) and Group Risk Income Plan (GRIP) policies do not have late or prevented planting provisions. Before GRP and GRIP policies provide coverage, wheat must be planted."

Record October rainfall plus cool weather has increased risk for mold development in corn, and telephone calls to the University of Illinois have increased with questions from producers on how to best deal with this risk.

Moldy corn reduces bushel weight, corn quality, nutrient content, and increase the risk of mycotoxin formation.

The cost of feeding cattle is the largest cost of dairy and beef production, but a new calculator, called "Cost of Feedstuffs Calculator," is available on the Web (www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/pubs/FASTtool_special_feedstuffs.asp) and allows producers to compare different feedstuffs to make the most economical choices.

Sharply higher crop prices over the past six weeks allows producers to be more aggressive with harvest time sales, especially in light of price uncertainties expected after harvest, says Darrel Good, University of Illinois economist.

"The big factor supporting corn and soybean prices in recent weeks has been the delay in getting the crops harvested. Futures prices have moved sharply higher and basis levels have been unusually strong as supplies in the cash market are limited," he said.

Urbana -- A host of economic indicators suggest that the recession has ended — with more positive than negative signs for the U.S. and the world economies — signaling a recovery for the cattle industry as well.

"Unfortunately the beef industry rode the recession downward. So far this year, through the month of September, beef production has been down by 5 percent, but finished cattle prices have been almost $11 lower than in the same period last year," said Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension economist.

Urbana -- On-going crop concerns could add to recent price strength in both corn and soybeans, and higher prices should probably move pricing strategies to less storage and more harvest-time pricing, according to University of Illinois Economist Darrel Good.

December 2009 corn futures have increased by about $.65 per bushel form the early September low. November 2009 soybean futures have rallied more than $1.00 per bushel from the low of earlier this month.

"These higher corn and soybean prices have come in the face of larger USDA crop forecasts," Good said.

Urbana -- With temperatures predicted in the mid to low 30's throughout Illinois, livestock producers should be cautious when grazing cattle on crops in the sorghum family, according to Dave Fischer, University of Illinois Extension dairy educator.

"Sudangrass, sorghum-sundangrass hybrids, and grain/forage sorghum are members of the sorghum family and, after a frost, will produce a glucoside called dhurrin that breaks down to release a toxin called prussic acid. Intake of high levels may be lethal to cattle," Fischer said.

URBANA - Although shortages of both jack-o-lantern pumpkins and canned pumpkin in stores have been reported, researchers say there are plenty of both available, particularly in the Midwest.

"Part of the confusion about possible shortages is because there are many different pumpkin varieties," said Bill Shoemaker, researcher at the University of Illinois Horticulture Research Center in St. Charles.

Urbana -- Corn exports will rebound sharply during the current marketing year, and soybean exports are expected remain at the record level of the 2008-09 marketing year, according to new USDA projections.

"Corn exports during the 2009-10 marketing year are projected at 2.2 billion bushels, 237 million below the record exports during the 2007-08 marketing year, but 350 million above exports during the 2008-09 marketing year," said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist.

Urbana — The magnitude of losses from pork production operations is declining and profits are expected to turn positive in the spring of 2010, according to Purdue University Extension Economist Chris Hurt.

Urbana -- Low cash prices for soft red winter wheat (SRW) and prospects for a continuation of weak basis levels into the 2010 marketing year may discourage seedings this fall.

"Soft red winter wheat basis in virtually every location has been generally very weak for about three years. In addition, late maturity and harvest of the corn and soybean crops may tend to limit seedings in some areas," said Darrel Good, U of I economist.

URBANA - A lot has to happen to a plant from the time it first captures sunlight in a field to being dispensed as fuel at the pump. For corn-to-ethanol, that path is fairly predictable, but for energy crops such as Miscanthus or switchgrass the journey is still through somewhat uncharted territory.

"There's not as much information on energy crops as we have on corn and soybeans and wheat and cotton. So we have to build on those past successes and learn," said University of Illinois agricultural engineer K.C. Ting.

Urbana — University of Illinois economists project net farm operator returns for 2009 at minus $8 per acre for corn and minus $15 per acre for soybeans, the first downturn in the decades of the 1990s and 2000.

Urbana -- Corn and soybean prices will continue to be influenced by supply factors over the next few weeks, and it seems supply prospects are increasing.

"For corn, the USDA's September forecast placed production potential at 12.955 billion bushels, 194 million larger than the August forecast. The larger forecast reflects a U.S. yield forecast of 161.9 bushels, 2.4 bushels higher than the August," said Darrel Good, University of Illinois economist.

Urbana -- As the 2009 harvest draws near, producers will finalize their decisions about whether or not to store their crops and for how long. And according to University of Illinois economist Darrel Good, the current price structure clearly favors corn storage over soybean storage.

Storing crops in anticipation of higher futures prices is very much a speculative decision depending on a number of factors that are difficult to anticipate.

Urbana -- It now appears that consumption of U.S. corn and soybeans will be record large in the 2009-10 marketing year, and that could help corn and soybean prices, according to University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

"The price users will be willing to pay for corn and soybeans will depend to a large degree on the extent of recovery in the U.S. and world economies. If recovery does occur, a modest increase in prices would be expected following the harvest of large crops," Good said.

Urbana -- From late 2007 to date, hog producers have been losing equity, and they are asking how long before the hog market turns around and they can start building equity again.

The amount of drain on equity depends on individual enterprises and their financial positions.

"On average, in the seven quarters of losses starting in the fourth quarter of 2007, a 10,000 head-per-year operation would have estimated losses of $315,000," said Chris Hurt,a Purdue University economist.

Urbana — Larger yield and production forecasts should not surprise corn and soybean markets in the weeks ahead and, if projections increase, expect price weakness into harvest.

The USDA's first forecast for 2009 projects a U.S. average corn yield of 159.5 bushels and a crop of 12.761 billion bushels. For soybeans, the U.S. average yield forecast came in at 41.7 bushels, resulting in a production forecast of 3.199 billion bushels.

The USDA's corn yield forecast is based on a combination of producer surveys and objective yield data collected in 10 states.

Urbana — Poor export demand for U.S. wheat, particularly for soft red winter wheat, is one reason for weakening wheat prices, but according to University of Illinois Economist Darrel Good, there are two fundamental factors that could lead to a modest price recovery in wheat.

"First, the strengthening of the El Nino weather pattern poses an increased risk of dry conditions in some Australian wheat production regions. Second, Current low cash price bids for the 2010 soft red winter wheat crop could lead producers to further reduce seedings this fall," Good said.

URBANA - This year farmers in the Midwest are growing a new variety of soybeans developed by University of Illinois researchers that has resistance to soybean aphids. However, in addition to the resistant plants, U of I researchers also discovered a new soybean aphid which is not controlled by this resistance.

Soybean aphids made their first appearance in North America in the summer of 2000, resulting in tremendous crop losses for farmers. U of I researchers began immediately searching for a variety of soybean that is resistant to the new pest.

Urbana -- There is a higher chance of ACRE payments in 2009 as current projections of market prices are below benchmark prices used to calculate ACRE state guarantees for corn, soybeans and wheat according to U of I economists Gary Schnitkey and Nick Paulson.

"The state corn yield for 2009 in Illinois is currently projected to be between 165 and 170 bushels per acre and the projection for the average price is $3.75 per bushel. At these price and yield levels the average ACRE payment on corn acres in Illinois would be $16 per acre for 2009."

URBANA - In a little over seven hours, University of Illinois weed scientist Patrick Tranel got more genetic information about waterhemp than in two years time in a lab. The genetic information was obtained using pyrosequencing technology in the Keck Center at the U of I. The genetic sequence will allow scientists to study herbicide resistance in waterhemp.

The "cash for clunkers" program added large incentives to buy new cars, but the willingness of consumers to pay for big ticket purchases probably means the bite of recession is beginning to ease.

"Consumers are beginning to feel a little better about their household budgets. If they will buy more cars, then surely they will also be willing to buy more beef," said Chris Hurt, Purdue University Economist.

The recession has cut deeply into cattle producer finances as loss of beef demand has ravaged cattle prices.

URBANA - Bob and Coleen Blain retired as educators in suburban Chicago in 1994 and returned to Bob's roots in Iroquois County to a farm originally purchased in 1906 by Gilbert Demierre, Bob's grandfather. River Front Berry Farm takes its name from its border along the Iroquois River in Martinton. The farm is the location of a tour sponsored by University of Illinois Extension on Tuesday, September 22.

Urbana — Corn prices have settled into a relatively narrow trading range, with December 2009 futures trading between $3.20 and $3.50 per bushel over the past three weeks. According to University of Illinois Extension Economist Darrel Good, the relatively low price level reflects the anticipation of a large harvest in 2009.

The USDA will release the first survey-based corn-yield projection on August 12. This survey will also be used to update estimates of planted acreage of corn and acreage expected to be harvested for grain in 2009.

URBANA - Using electrolyzed water rather than harsh chemicals could be a more effective and environmentally friendly method in the pretreatment of ethanol waste products to produce an acetone-butanol-ethanol fuel mix, according to research conducted at the University of Illinois.

URBANA -- For more than 30 years, farmers and their advisers have turned to the Illinois Agronomy Handbook for research-based guidance on crop production. The 24th edition of the handbook is now available, completely revised and updated with new information and guidelines as well as color photos and illustrations.

"I'll admit to some bias, but I believe that this edition of the Illinois Agronomy Handbook is a publication that everyone who works with field crops in Illinois should have," said Emerson Nafziger, U of I crop sciences professor.

Urbana — Corn and soybean markets anticipate relatively large crops and have priced these commodities accordingly, but Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist, says considerable production and price uncertainty remains.

Corn and soybean prices declined sharply during the last half of June into early July due to surprising planted-acreage numbers from the USDA. December 2009 corn futures declined from the $4.70 area to under $3.30 while November 2009 soybean futures dropped from $11.00 to a low of about $8.80.

URBANA - Robert J. Hauser has been named Interim Dean Designate of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois. Hauser will assume the position of Interim Dean on August 17, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. He will work with Robert A. Easter as Easter transitions into his new position in the University of Illinois Provost's Office.

URBANA - The July 10 USDA monthly report of U.S. and world supply and demand projections for major crops contained a number of changes from a month ago but generally points to abundant crop supplies for the year ahead, said a University of Illinois Extension economist.

"For soybeans, the USDA increased its projection of both the domestic crush and exports during the current year by 10 million bushels," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - Martin Stahl and his brother have farmed corn and soybeans for about 35 years in Sangamon, Macon and Logan counties. Stahl said he goes to the University of Illinois Agronomy Day to see and hear about current issues in production agriculture. "With all of the wet weather we've had the past two years, I'd like to learn anything that would help with that," he said.

URBANA — Although the breeding herd is not dropping fast enough to bring pork production back to profitability, falling corn prices and prospects for lower soybean meal prices this fall are providing rays of hope for pork producers in the future, said a Purdue University economist.

"The USDA reported on June 1 that the breeding herd was down about 3 percent, with producers' farrowing intentions down 2 percent this summer and 2 percent this fall. But pork supplies will not change much even with the smaller breeding herd," said Chris Hurt.

Urbana — June USDA reports point to a more comfortable supply of corn, soybeans, and wheat for the 2009-10 marketing year, which is negative for prices.

"Estimates in the USDA's June 1 Grain Stocks and Acreage reports exceeded expectations and were generally very negative for corn price prospects. Acreage of wheat also exceeded expectations. Estimates were closer to expectations for soybeans but point to ample supplies during the year ahead," said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist.

Urbana -- The season's prolonged wet conditions are leaving corn growers with no other alternative than to sidedress applications for nitrogen (N), so they've been asking University of Illinois Assistant Professor of Soil Fertility, Fabián Fernández questions about when and how to apply N.

"Corn takes up large amounts of N during approximately the V8 to the tassel stage. Nitrogen uptake is mostly done shortly after pollination, so applying N before the V8 development stage is probably the best time," Fernández said.

URBANA - National Food MarketMaker recently added Colorado, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., to their growing online network on the National Food MarketMaker website. MarketMaker now includes 12 participating states plus Washington, D.C.

The national website located at national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu is a portal to all of the participating states.

Urbana -- Lawrence Schook, University of Illinois professor, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and write about genomics, immunology, development, cell biology, and molecular biology in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Salzburg, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Urbana — Looking ahead to the June 30th USDA quarterly Grain Stocks and annual Acreage reports will provide an important gauge for corn and soybean markets, given the current scenario of declining soybean stocks and late planting in the eastern Corn Belt.

Urbana — The Illinois State Water Survey says that wet conditions in March, April, and May of 2009 were the "fifth wettest since statewide records began in 1895," leading many farmers to wonder if they should apply more nitrogen fertilizer to cornfields.

Urbana -- All of the ingredients for volatile corn and soybean prices appear to be in place -- tight stocks, production uncertainties, and fluctuating financial, currency, and energy markets -- making marketing decisions for the 2009 corn and soybean crops challenging. But opportunities to sell at more attractive prices will likely occur periodically over the next 12 months, said U of I Economist Darrel Good.

Some uncertainty will be addressed with the release of the USDA's June 1 Acreage and Grain Stocks reports on June 30 as well as the unfolding of growing-season weather.

Urbana - The University of Illinois Illini Pullers are the winners of the 2009 ASABE International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition. The Pullers are a student club associated with the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the U of I.

Urbana -- The need to slow the rate of consumption of soybeans is a well-known fact and there are a few indications that rationing has begun, but more confirmation is needed.

"The bottom line is producers will want to be ready to move old crop soybeans once the market is satisfied that sufficient rationing has occurred," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension ag economist.

The important issue for the market is how high prices must be to maintain a minimum level of stocks going into the 2009 harvest.

Urbana -- Adverse planting conditions this spring have resulted in late plantings across much of Illinois. While a great deal of progress has been made in the past week, there are still fields that have not been planted, making future cropping decisions critical.

"Farmers who have not planted on fields scheduled for corn have three options -- Plant corn whenever it becomes possible, plant soybeans, or take a 'prevented planting payment,'" said Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois agricultural economist.

Urbana -- Adverse planting conditions this spring have resulted in late plantings across much of Illinois. While a great deal of progress has been made in the past week, there are still fields that have not been planted, making future cropping decisions critical.

"Farmers who have not planted on fields scheduled for corn have three options -- Plant corn whenever it becomes possible, plant soybeans, or take a 'prevented planting payment,'" said Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois agricultural economist.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Robert A. Easter, the dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, has been named interim-provost designate, pending approval by the U. of I. Board of Trustees at its July 22 meeting in Chicago.

Linda Katehi, the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, will remain in her position through mid-August, before assuming her new duties as chancellor at the University of California at Davis.

Urbana -- Soft red winter wheat producers face a favorable pricing scenario heading into harvest because of rising prices and an opportunity to earn a large return from a storage hedge, according to U of I Extension Economist Darrel Good.

"Producers in Illinois typically do not store much wheat beyond August following harvest because wheat is generally produced in small quantities and does not compete well with farm storage for corn and soybeans," Good said.

URBANA - Two unique and successful livestock farms are the destination for a sustainable agriculture tour sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The tour of two Sheffield farms in Bureau County will take place beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 7.

The tour starts at Meadow Haven Farm owned by Allan and Jeanne Sexton and Jeremy and Cherie House. They raise certified organic grass-fed beef and pastured poultry - 185 head of cattle, 3,000 chickens and 250 turkeys, orchard and alley cropping for small farm production.

Urbana -- For the past 10 years at the farmdoc website (www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu), the University of Illinois has provided farmers with decision-making information and management tools in an unbiased and timely fashion. As of June 1, farmdoc users will notice something new on the site -- the logos of the two Illinois Farm Credit Services associations, who are the first "Platinum Sponsors" of the site.

1st Farm Credit Services and Farm Credit Services of Illinois have jointly pledged $25,000 per year in support of farmdoc.

URBANA - The first of several organic field days sponsored by the University of Illinois is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 12. This first tour is entitled, "Beginning Organic Farmers: De-mystifying Certification and the Choice Not to Certify."

The tour will visit two farms in Illinois - one which is certified organic and the other which farms organically but has chosen not to certify.

Urbana -- The H1N1 flu and rising feed prices have once again put the pork industry into deep losses, continuing the trend of "red ink" dating back to the fall of 2007.

"While recovery in hog prices is expected as the world tries to return to more normal consumption, the financial stress may be near a breaking point for some producers," said Chris Hurt, Purdue University economist.

In April 2009 hog prices were ready to turn upward. Then on the 24th came the first word of a human flu the media had called "Swine Flu."

URBANA -- June Dairy Month marks the mid-point of 2009, a year that clearly will not be "kind" to dairy producers, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Dairy managers are recording huge financial losses," said Mike Hutjens. "Milk prices dropped nearly 40 percent starting last January, reaching less than $12 per hundred pounds. The price was $18 per hundredweight in December 2008.

Urbana -- While it's too early to forecast the size of the 2009 U.S. corn crop, the market appears to be ignoring the potential yield reduction due to delayed planting in the eastern Corn Belt.

"The USDA's Crop Progress report showed only 48 percent of the crop planted as of May 10 -- equal to last year's slow pace and below the 5-year average of 71 percent," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension economist. "So far the corn market has had only a modest reaction to these planting delays."

URBANA — Globalization of agriculture production and food will likely mean more regulations on producers and suppliers, said Robert G.F. Spitze, professor emeritus of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois.

"Where national boundaries and oceans once separated us, we are now in a world-wide market," said Spitze as he discussed significant changes in public agricultural policy over the last three-quarters of a century and then glanced at the potential future. "This means our food supply can originate from any field or processor on our planet.

URBANA — While the six-year effort that mapped the bovine genome gains international attention, Illinois beef and dairy producers have been benefiting from the research for the past 15 years, said Harris Lewin, a University of Illinois professor of animal sciences whose lab created the high-resolution physical map of the bovine chromosomes.

URBANA — Following the release of recent USDA reports, there appears to be room for additional advances in corn prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The reports did not contain major surprises relative to pre-report trade expectations," said Darrel Good. "Ongoing corn planting delays in the eastern Corn Belt, however, are resulting in some expectations of a modest shift from corn to soybean acreage. In addition, corn yield expectations may be reduced as a result of a significant portion of the crop being planted after May 10.

URBANA - A small group of students and faculty from the University of Illinois are working with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF), to improve the jab planter, a tool used in small-scale agriculture conservation practices in southern Africa.

Jason Buss, a senior in agricultural and biological engineering, and Michael Leick, formerly in agricultural and biological engineering and now a graduate student in mechanical engineering, have successfully improved the design of the tool that has been in use in Africa for many years.

URBANA — To date, corn planting delays in the eastern Corn Belt have not had a substantial impact on corn prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Drier-than-expected conditions over the past weekend and a forecast that calls for less rain than predicted last week suggest that corn planting could still be completed in a timely fashion," said Darrel Good.

He added that recent strength in the soybean market provides producers an opportunity to price old-crop inventories.

URBANA — Focusing on improving profitability, dairy experts from around the nation will gather on June 10-11 at Dubuque, Iowa for the Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference.

"This program offers excellent opportunities for producers to learn more about health, management, and housing developments that can help improve profitability," said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

URBANA - University of Illinois Extension and Iowa State University Extension are hosting the National Value-Added Agriculture Conference. The 11th annual conference is set for June 2 to 4 at the Stoney Creek Inn and Conference Center in Moline.

"People who attend this conference will be able to hear from national leaders about the factors that are driving value-added agribusiness ideas in the future," said Rich Knipe, University of Illinois Extension beef specialist.

URBANA - Ernie and Judy Duckworth found a better way to grow strawberries that uses fewer chemicals and extends the growing season. A visit to see their operation is the second sustainable agriculture tour sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The tour of Jed's Farm in Thompsonville in Franklin County will take place on Friday, June 19.

URBANA — Swine flu has already had an impact on U.S. crop markets, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"In the first trading session following the announcement of incidences of swine flu in Mexico and the United States, corn, soybean, and wheat futures declined sharply," said Darrel Good. "Market participants reportedly are concerned that the threat of swine flu will reduce pork demand, stimulating further liquidation of hog numbers and resulting in reduced feed demand."

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois is partnering with Illinois community colleges on a new collaborative initiative called ACES ACCESS.

Beginning fall semester 2009, a sequence of four introductory agricultural science foundation courses, taught by University of Illinois professors, will be offered using distance education technologies and hands-on labs to students attending a participating community college.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Researchers report today in the journal Science that they have sequenced the bovine genome, for the first time revealing the genetic features that distinguish cattle from humans and other mammals.

The six-year effort involved an international consortium of researchers and is the first full genome sequence of any ruminant species. Ruminants are distinctive in that they have a four-chambered stomach that -- with the aid of a multitude of resident microbes -- allows them to digest low quality forage such as grass.

URBANA - Alumni, faculty, academic professionals, staff, and students in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences were honored last night for their contributions.

Receiving the Paul A. Funk Recognition Award, the highest faculty honor, were three professors: Mark B. David of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences; and Michael Ellis and Douglas F. Parrett, both of the Department of Animal Sciences.

URBANA — Cattle prices are likely to increase over time, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The magnitude of price improvement may be robust at some point in 2010 as beef cow numbers continue to drop, beef exports continue to improve, and the world economy begins to heal," said Chris Hurt. "A return to finished cattle prices of $1 per pound or higher seems probable as per capita beef supplies will be low and competitive meat supplies will drop as well."

URBANA - An unsettled national and world economy in combination with other factors have more than doubled the amount of money at risk for U.S. agricultural producers, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"Last year, both production costs and commodity prices doubled and then plunged," said Nick Paulson, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, farmdoc team member, and an affiliate of the U of I Center for Economic and Financial Education.

URBANA - Prospects for small year-ending stocks of soybeans and declining inventories of corn during the 2009-10 marketing year means that a generally favorable 2009 growing season will be needed to avoid rationing of use next year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Hog producers must continue to cut the herd size somewhat to elevate hog prices to parity with costs of production in 2010 despite improving price prospects, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - An analysis of both historical data and forecasts of costs and returns suggests that corn rather than soybeans will be more profitable in 2009, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"For planting decisions, a key will be whether farmers are facing fall pricing versus spring pricing," said Gary Schnitkey. "In some areas of Illinois, input prices have not fallen as much as in other areas. In areas where input prices have not fallen, soybeans may be more profitable than corn."

URBANA - Prices may show a modest response to recent USDA reports termed "friendly," but the market will also begin to anticipate how actual plantings may differ from intentions, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"In addition, financial, currency, and energy markets will continue to have an influence on crop prices as those markets influence overall demand prospects," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - For his career as a pioneer in corn breeding, A. Forrest Troyer is one of this year's recipients of the prestigious Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture.

As one of the world's most effective corn breeders, Troyer developed or co-developed 40 commercial corn hybrids for major agribusinesses that sold more than 60 million bags of seed corn - enough to plant all the corn in North America for two years.

URBANA - The first of this year's University of Illinois Extension sustainable agriculture tours will follow meat and poultry production from pasture to plate. The tour will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 14 at Eickman's Processing in Seward.

Eickman's Processing near Rockford was founded in 1953. "The company was started by my grandfather," said Tom Eickman. "We're not certified organic, but we're a USDA federal facility and handle everything separately and do custom processing, so if a customer wants thick steaks wrapped individually, we do that."

URBANA - A program that benefits horse owners, small livestock operations, gardeners, landscapers, and the environment is now available online, courtesy of University of Illinois Extension.

"Illinois Manure Share" (http://www.manureshare.illinois.edu/) is free, said Randy Fonner, a U of I Extension certified livestock manager program specialist.

URBANA - When the University of Illinois agricultural experiment station in Monmouth was threatened with closure due to lack of funds, a group of concerned citizens sprang into action. "This diverse grass roots group - a farmer, farm bureau manager, a banker, a realtor and others - said that the station was a vital aspect of the community and wanted to know what they could do to help," said Eric Adee, principal research specialist at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center in Monmouth.

URBANA - The rebound in soybean futures prices and the continuation of a strong basis is giving producers an opportunity to price a portion of the unsold 2008 crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Decisions for the 2009 crop are more difficult," said Darrel Good. "November futures are slightly above the spring price guarantee for crop revenue insurance so there is some downside risk for unpriced new crop soybeans. That risk is small for the insured portion of the crop, but greater for the uninsured portion.

URBANA - Registration is now open for a second dairy "webinar, " this one focusing on heifer management, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

The program will be offered from noon to 1 p.m. on April 8, said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

URBANA - Forty calves will be on sale April 11 at the 61st Annual Purebred Dairy Calf Association sale at the University of Illinois Round Barns. The sale begins at 12:30 p.m.

Breeds represented include Ayrshires, Brown Swiss, Jerseys, Milking Shorthorn, and Holsteins.

Urbana -- Interest in bioenergy and renewable energy sources continues to increase and now students can earn a Master of Science degree in bioenergy from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The new Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree is a non-thesis program that allows students to receive training in bioenergy subjects, while gaining relevant professional experience in business classes and an internship.

URBANA - On the University of Illinois South Farms, 320 acres are devoted to the largest biofuels research farm in the U.S., growing crops that could be used to produce renewable energy. Last year the farm planted miscanthus, switchgrass, corn, and restored prairie as bioenergy crops. The goal is to compare insect and disease challenges, environmental benefits, economic opportunities and potential energy per acre of each.

URBANA - What's chewing on your garden plants or ailing your soybeans or ruining the apples on your backyard tree? Now there are 50 University of Illinois Extension professionals ready and able to answer those and other questions through the Distance Diagnostics System.

URBANA - Corn consumption during the 2009-10 marketing year could reach 12.5 billion bushels, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The 2009 crop would need to be near 12.2 billion bushels to support consumption at that level," said Darrel Good. "Assuming a trend yield of 152.8 bushels, 79.8 million acres of corn would need to be harvested to produce 12.2 billion bushels. About 87 million acres of corn would need to be planted in 2009, then, to meet expected consumption.

URBANA - By crossing maize plants adapted to the tropics with lines used as parents of popular Midwestern corn hybrids, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new type of plant with the potential to yield three crops and use less nitrogen. Sugar corn can be harvested for the grain, the sugar inside the stalk, and for biomass to produce energy.

Crop scientist Fred Below and plant geneticist Stephen Moose wanted to develop a corn plant that would produce competitive amounts of biomass while using less nitrogen.

URBANA - This year's 53rd consecutive Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois will take place on August 13, a week earlier than usual.

"Due to a couple of other major agricultural events that we thought might create conflicts for visitors and presenters, Agronomy Day has been moved up a week early to Thursday, August 13," said Bob Dunker, superintendent of the U of I South Farms and chairperson for Agronomy Day.

URBANA - A hot topic in the pork industry, group housing of sows, will be addressed March 19 during a meeting at the University of Illinois Extension office on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

"This topic continues to generate much discussion in the industry," explained Hans Stein, U of I Extension swine specialist. "This meeting will bring together experts from around the world to share their experiences on this topic.

URBANA - Among a series of upcoming USDA reports, more attention may be focused on the Prospective Plantings report, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"At the annual outlook conference, the USDA used a 2009 corn planting estimate of 86 million acres to construct the projected supply and consumption balance sheet for 2009-10," said Darrel Good. "That projection is equal to 2008 plantings. The USDA used an estimate of 77 million acres for soybeans, 1.3 million more than planted in 2008.

URBANA - Pork producers should be "conservative and defensive" this year even though profitability may be on the horizon, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The extreme uncertainty of the moment implies that pork producers, like all of agriculture, should be conservative and defensive," said Chris Hurt. "Perhaps management decisions in 2009 should be focused on increasing odds of survival, rather than looking for big opportunities."

URBANA - University of Illinois plant geneticist Stephen Moose has developed a corn plant with enormous potential for biomass, literally. It yields corn that would make good silage, Moose said, due to a greater number of leaves and larger stalk, which could also make it a good energy crop.

URBANA - Changes to crop insurance policies in 2009 may impact farmer choices, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Two changes reduce premiums on Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC) and Revenue Assurance (RA)," said Gary Schnitkey. "Higher subsidy levels have been implemented for enterprise units and the Biotech Endorsement (BE) has been expanded.

"In addition, subsidy levels have been lowered for Group Risk Income Plan (GRIP). One other change in 2009 is a simplification of limits of harvest price movements."

URBANA - A combination of weak basis and relatively low futures prices for the 2009 corn and soybean crops are discouraging new crop sales, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Futures prices for both crops are also now below the likely spring price guarantee for crop revenue insurance products," said Darrel Good. "Aggressively pricing the 2009 crops at prices below the crop insurance guarantee may not be prudent this early in the season."

URBANA - Expected lower fertilizer prices in 2009 may lead to an increase in corn profitability relative to soybean profitability, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

URBANA - New conservation practices and manure storage capacity are just two of the topics that will be addressed at the 2009 Livestock Manure Management Conference workshops. The workshops, set for March in Effingham and Princeton, Illinois, are sponsored by the University of Illinois, the Illinois EPA, and the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

One topic of discussion will be a new conservation practice standard released by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in November of 2008.

The First Annual Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference: Incentivizing Second-Generation Biofuels, sponsored by the University of Illinois Energy Biosciences Institute's (EBI) Biofuels Law and Regulation Program, will be held at the new University of Illinois I-Hotel in Champaign, Illinois on April 24-25, 2009.

URBANA - The size of the biofuels market will be an important factor in determining how many acres of corn and soybeans are needed this year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"This is particularly true for corn," said Darrel Good. "The majority of biofuels production continues to be corn-based ethanol production. That will continue to be the case for the next few years.

URBANA - Milk producers are facing significant economic challenges this year, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Milk prices at the farm gate will decline over 30 percent or $5 to $6 per 100 pounds," said Mike Hutjens. "In November of last year, the price per hundredweight was $19. By the end of this month, it may drop to $13.

"The reasons for this decline include the recession in both the U.S. and world dairy economies, a stronger U.S. dollar, a decline in eating out, and less export of dairy products."

URBANA - The 5th National Small Farm Conference will be held September 15 to 17 in Springfield. The deadline for submitting abstracts for presentations, posters and exhibits is Friday, March 13. The conference is hosted by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA - When hog producers' books are balanced for 2008, substantial red ink may be expected, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Hog prices are expected to have averaged about $47.85 per hundredweight in 2008," said Dale Lattz, a U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. "The sharp increase in corn and soybean prices early in the year is likely to result in significantly higher feed costs for 2008. Feed costs are expected to come in about $38.75 per hundredweight and non-feed costs at $19.70 in 2008.

URBANA- ExplorACES is a two-day event designed to acquaint prospective students and their families with the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The event is scheduled for Friday, March 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Details about ExplorACES can be found at www.aces.illinois.edu/ExplorACES/

URBANA - Although a number of factors continue to influence corn and soybean prices, one of the most important recently involves weather and crop conditions in South America, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"This is particularly true for Argentina," said Darrel Good.

Argentina and Brazil are large exporters of soybeans and soybean products. Argentina is typically a large exporter of corn. Recently, Brazil has also exported large quantities of corn as production has exceeded domestic requirements.

URBANA - Registration is now open for a March 20 dairy "webinar" focusing on feeding strategies, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The program, 'Feeding Strategies with Current Milk Prices,' will focus on the do's and don't's of feeding programs to follow when profit margins are squeezed," said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

URBANA - Since 2003, the University of Illinois MarketMaker website has been helping connect farmers and producers to markets. The website, which began as a free online database of Illinois businesses, has recently received a makeover.

There are currently 10 states whose websites are up and running: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, and Georgia. Colorado, Washington D.C. and South Carolina have websites that are under construction.

World economic conditions are now the dominant driving force for cattle prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"In the old days, cattle and beef prices were primarily correlated with beef supplies because demand tended to stay fairly constant," said Chris Hurt. "Well, the 'good old days' are over as demand is in the driver's seat today.

Urbana, Ill. -- More than 100 government officials, private industry representatives and other entities gathered at the Karibe Convention Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for a seminar on Processing and Utilization of Soybeans for Meat and Dairy Applications. This seminar, conducted by the National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) and funded by Illinois soybean checkoff dollars, teaches attendees how to incorporate soy protein into local diets, part of international marketing efforts facilitated through the laboratory.

URBANA - While it now appears that U.S. soybean exports will exceed current USDA projections, corn exports could fall short, adding to year-ending stocks and reducing the need for corn acres in 2009, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"However, the fate of the Argentine corn crop may have an impact on U.S. corn exports," said Darrel Good. "Earlier this month, the USDA reduced the projected size of Argentine production and exports by nearly 60 million bushels.

URBANA - An expanded version of the catalog for the 2009 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale has been posted on the web (http://www.IPTBullSale.com), said Dave Seibert, a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator.

URBANA - A new, late-ripening apple named WineCrisp which carries the Vf gene for scab resistance was developed over the past 20 plus years through classical breeding techniques, not genetic engineering. License to propagate trees will be made available to nurseries through the University of Illinois.

URBANA - Beef cattle producers will have the opportunity to attend one of three Area Beef Cattle Seminars scheduled for this month, said Dave Seibert, a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator.

The seminars will be held Jan. 27 in Onarga at the Ford-Iroquois Extension Office; on Jan. 28 in Paris at the Edgar County 4-H Fairgrounds; and on Thursday, Jan. 29 in Carrollton at the Greene County Extension Office. All of the seminars will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

URBANA - Corn acreage in 2009 needs to be maintained at least at the level of 2008, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"A small increase may be warranted, depending on yield and consumption expectations," said Darrel Good. "There appears to be no need for increased soybean acreage and a small decline may be warranted, depending on yield expectations.

"With winter wheat seedings down by 4.2 million acres, there does not appear to be a looming battle for acreage of spring-planted crops in 2009."

Urbana -- On January 12, the USDA released its Annual Crop Production report, the quarterly Grain Stocks report, the annual Winter Wheat Seedings report, and the monthly update of world supply and consumption forecasts, which University of Illinois Extension Economist Darrel Good calls bearish for corn and soybean prices but more friendly for wheat.

"These reports were especially negative for corn prices and will likely end the month-old rally in prices even with some worries about the Argentine crop, and prices could decline to the level of early December," Good said.

URBANA - As a chemical for industrial processes, butanol is used in everything from brake fluid, to paint thinners, to plastics. According to a University of Illinois researcher, butanol made from plant material could displace butanol made from petroleum, just not at the fuel pump.

"Yes you can drive your car around with 100 percent butanol, but butanol is much more valuable - about three times more valuable - as a chemical than as a liquid fuel," said Hans Blaschek, microbiologist in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at Illinois.

URBANA - Beef producers interested in learning more about controlling costs will have that opportunity Feb. 5 at the 2009 Northern Illinois Beef Cattle Seminar sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

The event opens with registration at 9:30 a.m. and concludes at about 3 p.m. in the Black Hawk East Auditorium located near the junction of highways 78 and 34 south of Kewanee.

"Presentations will be made by U of I Extension personnel, industry representatives, and an expert on renewable fuels," said Alan Miller, U of I Extension beef specialist.

URBANA - Hog producers may see modest profits in 2009, depending upon costs of production and other factors, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The industry has had six consecutive quarters of losses from the final quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2009," said Chris Hurt. "The return to profits sometime this winter is predicated on controlling corn and soybean meal costs and keeping the size of the breeding herd down.

NOTE TO EDTIORS: THIS IS THE LAST WEEKLY OUTLOOK OF 2008. THE NEXT OUTLOOK WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 5, 2009.

Weekly Outlook: Corn Prices

URBANA - Total planted acreage of all crops could drop substantially if crop prices remain generally low, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Charles E. "Chuck" Cagley, a University of Illinois Extension affiliated farm management specialist, has been honored by the Illinios Farm Bureau. Cagley, who retired earlier this year, received the IFB's Eagle Award for Excellence.

Cagley, served as state coordinator of the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association (FBFM), was recognized for nearly three decades of service. The award noted his managerial skills and leadership in working with local FBFM directors to develop new services to meet the evolving needs of agricultural producers.

Urbana - Monitoring manure storage capacity and current livestock regulations are just two of the topics that will be addressed at the 2009 Livestock Manure Management Conference workshops, sponsored by the University of Illinois and set for March in Effingham and Princeton, Illinois.

EDITOR'S NOTE: There will be no Weekly Outlook for Dec. 22 or Dec. 29.

URBANA - The ability of the stock market to close higher on Dec. 5 following poor economic news is a little encouraging for crop prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Recessionary pressures will likely continue, but the biggest impact on crop prices may have already occurred," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed corn, soybean, and wheat prices, all of which continue to be pressured by negative economic news.

NOTE TO EDITORS: This release contains information about students from DeKalb, Rockford, Nashville, Bloomington, Effingham, Orion, and Wheaton.

URBANA - Capping a successful 2008 season, the University of Illinois Dairy Judging Team finished first at the North American International Livestock Dairy Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the third top four finish for the team in as many contests.

Urbana - "Tillage, Technology & Environmental Stewardship" is the theme for the 2009 Illinois Regional Tillage Seminars, to be held in January at three locations throughout Illinois.

"This year we're going to focus on technology and environmental stewardship associated with adopting a no-till and strip-till farming system," said Bob Frazee, University of Illinois Extension natural resources educator. "To that end, we've brought in three of the nation's foremost experts on no-till/strip-till, to speak to our producers."

EDITOR'S NOTE: There will be no Weekly Outlook for Dec. 22 or Dec. 29.

URBANA - Soybean prices will likely be influenced by developments in the general economy and the energy markets, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Soybean prices increased about $1 per bushel from mid-October through early November," said Darrel Good. "Since then, prices have been erratic, but generally weaker. More of the weakness comes from soybean oil prices than from soybean meal prices.

URBANA - "Economic Expectations" is the theme for 2009's Illinois Dairy Days, a program scheduled for nine locations throughout the state in January.

"The dairy business continues to face challenging times," said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist. "To help producers make correct management decisions, it is vital to have the latest information at hand. That is the driving idea behind this one-day program--to help producers make the most of their resources and remain a productive part of the dairy industry."

URBANA - Significant economic opportunities may await producers interested in raising meat goats, said a University of Illinois Extension meat goat specialist.

"Population projections predict an increase of 100 million people in this country by 2040," said Dick Cobb. "Much of this growth will be due to the increase of Hispanic and Islamic populations with much of it in Illinois centered on Chicago.

"Both of these groups enjoy goat meat."

Urbana - This year, the sponsors of the Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) workshops are going the extra mile to assist producers in their efforts to comply with the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act and other environmental regulations.

"The first person to register from a facility will pay $30," said Randy Fonner, U of I Extension specialist and coordinator of the workshops. "Additional registrants from the same facility will only be charged $20."

Hog producers may actually be helped by the current recession because of lower feed costs, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Lower costs in combination with smaller pork supplies in 2009 could be the combination that puts the industry back into profitability," said Chris Hurt. "Hog prices may actually increase a few dollars in 2009 as the pork industry in both the United States and Canada reduces breeding herds due to this year's losses.

"However, many uncertainties continue for the pork industry."

Urbana - Crop production, pest management, economics, and the interactions among them will be the emphasis of the 2009 University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classics. This series of regional conferences is scheduled at six sites between January 6 and January 15.

URBANA - Optimism on the part of some observers that corn prices will increase as the marketing year progresses is puzzling, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"At this point, it is not clear where the fundamental support will come from to generate such a recovery," said Darrel Good. "At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a recovery in financial markets and energy prices will likely be required to generate higher corn prices in the near term."

Professor Jack Widholm, Emeritus Professor of Plant Physiology in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Society for In Vitro Biology. This award is the highest honor given by the Society, and is presented annually to a scientist who is considered a pioneer in the science and art of cell culture.

URBANA - Stabilization of the financial markets and energy prices provide some support for corn and soybean prices now, but recovery in those markets will be required to fuel a meaningful post-harvest recovery for those crops, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - The "incredible roller coaster ride" of Illinois agriculture in the past year and future twists and turns will be addressed in a series of meetings throughout Illinois in December, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The Profitability of Illinois Agriculture: Looking Ahead in Extraordinary Times" is the theme of the 2008 Illinois Farm Economics Summit to be held in Mount Vernon, Bloomington, Galesburg, and Sycamore.

URBANA - Dairy producers need to maintain high milk production and avoid economically bad decisions, counsels a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist in the wake of a predicted negative profit margin in 2008.

A recent U of I Extension study pointed to higher feed costs as the primary contributing factor to the sharp turnaround from profits in 2007 to an average of $2.25 lost for every 100 pounds of milk produced in 2008.

URBANA - Illinois dairy producers likely face negative profit margins this year as feed costs exceed milk prices, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

URBANA - Larger corn and soybean production forecasts on Nov. 10 would likely slow the recovery in corn and soybean prices, while a surprise reduction in crop size might provide some modest support, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"A substantial recovery in corn and soybean prices, however, likely hinges on improved demand prospects that would come with stronger financial and energy markets," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - A recovery in corn and soybean prices over the next six months is generally expected, making ownership of the crops beyond harvest prudent, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The current price structure in the corn and soybean markets suggests that holding physical inventory is the preferred way of owning corn, while owning soybeans in the form of a basis contract or futures contract may be cheaper than physical storage," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed the corn and soybean markets.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The National Science Foundation announced this month that it is funding a new research effort at the University of Illinois aimed at understanding how — and whether it is possible — to build sustainable infrastructure to support the emerging biofuels industry.

Nervous cattle producers have received a bit of advice from a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist--don't panic.

"Odds favor a recession and not a depression," said Chris Hurt in a report distributed by University of Illinois Extension. "Understanding the magnitude of the recession is becoming easier as the impacts of the past few weeks affect consumer spending, business investment decisions, and trade.

URBANA - How the current financial crisis impacts agriculture and changes decision-making for producers is the focus of five new reports prepared by members of the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

The five-part package (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/ifeu/) is available on University of Illinois Extension's farmdoc website.

URBANA - With the supply side of the corn and soybean price equation becoming more settled, price direction will now come primarily from the demand side, where there are some positive developments, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Corn producers face a double-whammy this harvest season, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Commercial drying and storage charges for grain will be higher in 2008 than in recent years," said Gary Schnitkey. "Moreover, corn will likely be harvested at higher moisture levels, further increasing drying costs this season."

URBANA - Improved efficiency in the production of milk has resulted in a huge reduction in the dairy industry's carbon footprint, making it very "green," said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Using 1944 as the base year of comparison--and also the year of the largest number of dairy cows in the United States, the number of dairy cows has dropped from 25.6 million to 9.2 million cows while milk production has increased from 117 billion pounds to 186 billion pounds," said Mike Hutjens.

URBANA - Problems such as those experienced with China's milk supplies are not likely to occur in the United States, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"China is back in the news with the recall of milk products due to the addition of melamine, an industrial chemical used in plastics and fertilizer production," said Mike Hutjens. "This contamination of milk has led to a crisis in China leading to the death of babies, 340 children hospitalized with kidney disorders, and 54,000 infants exposed to the dangerous compound."

URBANA - There is substantial concern about the implications of the current meltdown in U.S. credit markets on the potential for economic growth in the United States and the rest of the world, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"That concern is reinforced by the sharp decline in stock prices and underlying economic indicators such as unemployment rates and housing starts," said Darrel Good. "Prospects of an economic slowdown threaten the robust domestic and export demand for U.S. agricultural commodities enjoyed over the past two years.

Urbana - The undergraduate program in agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Illinois has been ranked the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The 2009 ranking by the prestigious weekly news magazine marks the third consecutive year the program has been recognized as the nation's best.

"We feel very honored," said K.C. Ting, head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, "because receiving this recognition three years in a row is not that common in our field."

Anticipation of smaller supplies should be supportive to hog prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The just-released USDA Hogs and Pigs report does suggest that U.S. producers are following through on their intentions to reduce the breeding herd and cut production for 2009," said Chris Hurt. "The nation's breeding herd is down 3 percent and producers indicate they will cut farrowings by 5 percent this fall and another 3 percent in the winter.

URBANA - Developments in the financial markets could have implications for the demand prospects for corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"If problems in those markets lead to weakening U.S. and world economies, the demand for both food and energy could also weaken with direct implications for corn and soybean prices," said Darrel Good. "Similarly, any evidence that those financial issues have been adequately addressed and the worst is over would suggest a more stable demand scenario."

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- An ethanol-fueled spike in grain prices will likely hold, yielding the first sustained increase for corn, wheat and soybean prices in more than three decades, according to new research by two University of Illinois farm economists.

Corn, an ethanol ingredient that has driven the recent price surge, could average $4.60 a bushel in Illinois, nearly double the average $2.42 a bushel from 1973 to 2006, said Darrel Good and Scott Irwin, professors of agriculture and consumer economics.

URBANA - Even with the USDA's recent cut in 2008 corn and soybean production forecasts, price prospects are far from settled, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Changes in U.S. and world production prospects, energy prices, and world economic conditions will continue to influence prices," said Darrel Good. "A further drop in U.S. corn and soybean production forecasts is expected in October.

"It is also encouraging that prices are holding up well in the face of poor economic news and declining crude oil prices."

URBANA - Early USDA forecasts for the 2008-09 corn and soybean marketing year project substantial declines in U.S. exports from the record levels reached in the 2007-08 marketing year, said a University of Illinois marketing specialist.

"The sharpest decline is projected for corn," said Darrel Good. "With U.S. corn and soybean stocks expected to remain tight this year, the pace of exports could have important price implications as the year progresses."

Champaign, Ill. -- Biofuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and next generation fuels, are a multi-faceted and complex issue, with economic, political, social and environmental implications. Discuss and debate these issues with experts from different areas of the bioenergy spectrum during panel sessions at the Biofuels and Sustainability Conference at the University of Illinois on October 21-22. Participants will learn more about these issues by taking an in-depth look at today's biofuels lifecycle.

URBANA - Two broad fundamental factors appear to be influencing corn and soybean prices as the growing season reaches the last stages, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"One of those factors is the potential size of the 2008 U.S. harvest and the other is the level of energy prices," said Darrel Good. "Crop size is important for obvious reasons and energy prices are important in determining the value of crops for biofuels production.

"That link is especially important for ethanol and corn prices."

More pork is being produced in the United States but less is available for U.S. consumers, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"What does more pork production but less available for U.S. consumers mean?" said Chris Hurt. "Pork exports grew by 68 percent in the first half of the year and imports fell by 15 percent meaning that 1.1 billion pounds less pork was available for domestic consumers.

"By the second quarter, U.S. pork production was 9 percent higher, but U.S. consumers had 6 percent less pork available to consume."

URBANA - The average farm real estate value for Illinois in 2008 is $5,000 per acre, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"This is the highest value on record," said Dale Lattz, University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist who prepared the report based on data from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

URBANA - A multiple species grazing conference to help producers better manage forages, chemical use, and costs will be held Sept. 13 at the Logan County Extension office in Lincoln.

"The goals of the conference are to help producers increase income per acre, better utilize forages, decrease parasite loads, decrease predation of small ruminants, and decrease chemical use to control undesirable weeds," said Dean Oswald, University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator. "An overarching theme of the conference is how co-grazing can work for producers."

URBANA - As fall approaches, a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist has outlined three scenarios for the harvesting of forage.

"We have plenty of late-planted corn and soybeans which could be nipped by an early frost," said Mike Hutjens. "It is important that dairy producers understand the alternatives and strategies should this occur."

The first scenario involves late-corn silage. The main differences will be yield (tons of dry matter per acre) and starch content.

URBANA - Corn and soybean prices are expected to remain relatively volatile as both production and demand uncertainty persist, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Recent history has been one of growing demand for U.S. commodities, tight U.S. and world stocks of feed grains and wheat, sporadic production problems, and record-high prices," said Darrel Good. "With record-large feed grain, wheat, and soybean crops expected for 2008-09 and some cracks forming in the demand picture, prices may take on a weaker tone.

URBANA - A leading dairy industry group has named University of Illinois Extension Dairy Specialist Mike Hutjens as the 2008 Industry Person of the Year. World Dairy Expo, Inc. will present the award Oct. 1 during its annual exposition in Madison, Wisconsin.

World Dairy Expo is the world's largest dairy event. "No one has been more instrumental in raising levels of knowledge" about the dairy industry than Hutjens, the awards committee noted. The award recognizes Hutjens' role in "building a worldwide industry connecting people, technology, and commerce."

URBANA - A University of Illinois course, Advanced Dairy Management: Principles of Dairy Science, will be offered online beginning Sept. 8, said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist and coordinator of the class.

"The class will cover calf and heifer management, business management, records, pasture systems, forages, facilities, nutrient management, genetics, and herd health," he said.

In addition to Hutjens, five other U of I personnel--Dick Wallace, Dave Fischer, Jim Endress, Roger Shanks, and Ed Ballard--will coordinate the class.

URBANA - USDA August forecasts of corn and soybean production were close enough to market expectations that a large price reaction is not expected, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The market will try to gauge whether production prospects change during August and early September," said Darrel Good. "The USDA's weekly Crop Progress report indicated that crop condition ratings improved for corn and held about steady for soybeans during the week ended Aug. 10. Both crops lag average maturity.

URBANA-Gale A. Buchanan, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be the featured speaker at Agronomy Day 2008 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

The event will take place on Thursday, August 21 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the U of I. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "Energizing Agriculture."

URBANA - A mouse click is all that is separating pesticide applicators, whether they are commercial applicators or homeowners, from the latest information on pesticide safety, thanks to a new University of Illinois Extension website.

"Pesticide Safety Education Program" (http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/psep/) was developed by Scott Bretthauer, Michelle Wiesbrook/ Phil Nixon, Jim Schuster, and Patty Bingaman, all Extension specialists.

URBANA - Next week's release of the USDA's August Crop Production report will provide an important benchmark for assessing 2008 corn and soybean production, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Given the unusual level of uncertainty surrounding production prospects this year, the report has the potential to produce a sharp price response," said Darrel Good. "Given the large price drop over the past three weeks, the greater risk may be smaller than expected.

Urbana -- Jason L. Emmert will join the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on August 1 as Assistant Dean of Academic Programs, according to Laurie Kramer, Associate Dean of Academic Programs for the college.

In his new role, Emmert will provide leadership to student recruitment from high schools and community colleges to the College of ACES, developing and administering scholarship and leadership programs, and overseeing the ACES Office of Student Development and Career Services and its staff.

Urbana -- Jason L. Emmert will join the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on August 1 as Assistant Dean of Academic Programs, according to Laurie Kramer, Associate Dean of Academic Programs for the college. In his new role, Emmert will provide leadership to student recruitment from high schools and community colleges to the College of ACES, developing and administering scholarship and leadership programs, and overseeing the ACES Office of Student Development and Career Services and its staff.

URBANA - Loss of a crop to a flood usually will not excuse a farmer's obligation to deliver grain at harvest under a forward contract otherwise legally enforceable, concludes a new University of Illinois Extension study. The full report, "Grain Contracts, High Prices, Floods, and Failure to Deliver," (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/legal/index.asp) is available on Extension's farmdoc website.

URBANA - By following a list of "good practices," Illinois farmers can maximize their protection under the Illinois Grain Code, according to a new University of Illinois Extension report. The report, "Illinois Grain Insurance Fund: Protecting Farmers if an Elevator Fails," (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/legal/index.asp) is available on Extension's farmdoc website.

URBANA - Pork producers have a place to turn for advice and information in tough economic times thanks to a joint project of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) and University of Illinois Extension. "Managing Pig Production in Tough Times" is an online program that covers a number of key decision areas for producers.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- In the largest field trial of its kind in the United States, researchers have determined that the giant perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus outperforms current biofuels sources — by a lot. Using Miscanthus as a feedstock for ethanol production in the U.S. could significantly reduce the acreage dedicated to biofuels while meeting government biofuels production goals, the researchers report.

The new findings, from researchers at the University of Illinois, appear this month in the journal Global Change Biology.

URBANA - Better days are likely ahead for the cattle industry, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"As numbers keep dropping, producers adjust inventories downward in the face of high feed and forage prices," said Chris Hurt. "At mid-year, the number of all cattle and calves was modestly lower than the two previous years, with total inventories near the lows of 2004.

"Beef cow numbers have dropped about 1 percent this year, reflecting continued discouragement from calf prices below the cost of production."

URBANA - An internationally-known University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist has been named a Fellow by the American Dairy Science Association. The award, announced earlier this month, recognizes Mike Hutjens for "distinguished service to the dairy industry over 20 years or more."

In announcing the award, the ADSA noted Hutjens' "exceptional contributions" to the dairy industry during a career that began in 1971 when he joined the University of Minnesota faculty after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

URBANA - Corn and soybean prices continue to weaken, but could settle into a more "sideways" pattern as production prospects unfold, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Still, large daily price movements can be expected," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed recent corn and soybean price patterns. December 2008 corn futures increased about $2 per bushel during the month of June, topping out just under $8. During the same period, November 2008 soybean futures rallied more than $3, topping out just under $16.37.

URBANA - A new study by University of Illinois agricultural economists projects that average 2008 corn yields could be reduced by 2.9 bushels per acre in Illinois, 3.5 bushels in Indiana, and 6.3 bushels in Iowa due to later-than-normal planting and above-normal precipitation in May. Soybean yields may be down 1.1 bushels, 0.4 bushels, and 1.0 bushels per acre, respectively, in those same states for the same reasons.

URBANA - Significantly higher production costs in 2009 are facing Illinois corn and soybean farmers, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"These cost increases will lead to higher breakeven prices for both corn and soybeans," said Gary D. Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. "Higher costs will cause farmers to more closely examine how much to adjust cash rent bids. Higher costs also may influence marketing and crop insurance decisions."

URBANA - There is a lot of the growing season left, but current crop and weather conditions suggest the possibility for further weakness in corn and soybean prices in the near term, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Crop condition ratings and our crop weather model suggest that the U.S. average yield could be a bushel above the USDA projection if summer weather is near average and an early freeze is avoided," said Darrel Good. ""The lateness of the crop and extensive re-planting, however, make yield prospects very uncertain.

URBANA—Thursday, August 28 has been set as the date for the 2008 Field Day at the University of Illinois' Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth. Tours of research plots will begin at 8:00 a.m. The last tour will depart at 9:00 a.m., and each tour will take about two hours to complete.

As part of the tour, Emerson Nafziger from U of I Extension will discuss planting dates and yield prospects for corn. Dawn Refsell from the U of I Department of Crop Sciences will present options for pre-emergence herbicide.

URBANA-The final program has been set for Agronomy Day 2008. The event will take place on Thursday, August 21 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "Energizing Agriculture."

Extraordinary losses for pork producers in 2008 may be offset by extraordinary profits in the last half of 2009 and 2010, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"This will be especially true if Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land is relapsed in 2009, if ethanol receives less support, if 2009 weather is favorable, and if crude oil prices don't keep moving higher," said Chris Hurt. "There are still plenty of uncertainties, and most won't feel relieved about 'better times' until they arrive."

URBANA - It's not too early to begin identifying bulls for consignment to the 2009 Illinois Performance Tested (IPT) Bull Sale, said a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator.

"Some changes have been instituted for the 2009 sale which will be held Feb. 19 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield," said Dave Seibert, who also manages the show. "The 2009 sale will maintain the same six trait power scores with equal emphasis on EPDs for birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, maternal milk, percent intramuscular fat, and rib eye area.

URBANA - Living expenses for the average Illinois farm family increased $6,726 between 2006 and 2007, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"The average amount spent per family for capital items--autos, furniture, and household equipment--was $1,426 more while non-capital expenses jumped $5,300 per family," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist who conducted the study.

Urbana -- The USDA's June Grain Stocks and Acreage reports revealed larger numbers than generally expected. These current estimates were negative for corn prices, but provided some support for soybean prices.

"Taken together, the USDA reports were negative for corn prices," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension Economist. "With a slowdown in corn use already happening, year-end stocks will likely be at least 100 million bushels larger than the 1.433 billion bushels projected by USDA earlier in the month.

Urbana -- The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign took more top honors at this summer's annual conference of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) than any other institution of higher education.

Seven professors and one graduate student from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) received awards at NACTA's 54th annual conference.

Urbana -- The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign took more top honors at this summer's annual conference of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) than any other institution of higher education.

Seven professors and one graduate student from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) received awards at NACTA's 54th annual conference.

URBANA - Although there is considerable uncertainty about acreage, yield, and production for the 2008 corn crop, favorable weather conditions through September could still result in a "respectable" crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"There is an interesting dynamic in livestock prices," added Darrel Good. "As the market expects liquidation and lower production, futures prices have moved sharply higher. Cattle futures prices range from $105 to $118 for the period from August 2008 through October 2009.

URBANA - More than $14,000 was raised to support University of Illinois dairy judging team activities and scholarships during a recent golf outing.

The fifth annual Illini Dairy Judging Team Golf Outing was held June 13 at Savoy, providing team members, friends, and alumni to get together and raise funds for the team. Ninety-six golfers completed the event. Prizes were sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Association.

URBANA - While corn prices have moved sharply higher as production expectations were scaled back, it is still not clear how much rationing will be required during the 2008-09 marketing year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The USDA will release its annual Acreage report on June 30. It may provide some insight into potential crop size," said Darrel Good. "However, some acreage had not yet been planted or re-planted at the time of data collection. The report then will still reflect a fair amount of planting intentions.

URBANA - A recent national Salmonella outbreak in some tomato varieties has sent grocery stores, restaurants and tomato product producers scrambling to find sources. One place they've been able to connect with tomato growers is through the MarketMaker website.

"The local tomato farmers listed on the MarketMaker website are source-verified, so consumers know where the tomatoes came from and how they were grown," said Dar Knipe, University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A costly deadline looms for many growers in the Midwest, as every day of waiting for the weather to cooperate to plant corn and soybeans reduces potential yields. Research indicates that Illinois growers who plant corn or soybeans near the end of June can expect a 50 percent reduction in crop yield, according to a University of Illinois agriculture expert.

URBANA - Producers facing late planting decisions have a place to go for help. "Late Planting and Crop Insurance Decisions" (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/newsletters/fefo08_11/fefo08_11.html) is now available on University of Illinois Extension's farmdoc website.

URBANA - Uncertainty about crop production, demand strength, and potential policy changes suggest that significant price risk will persist into the heart of the corn and soybean growing season, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Alternative methods for handling livestock manure in economical and practical ways are shared on a new University of Illinois Extension website, the result of cumulative research efforts ongoing since the 1990s.

URBANA - Two tours in July sponsored by University of Illinois Extension represent the broad diversity in what is considered sustainable agriculture. One tour will visit a farm-raised prawn farm, while the other will tour a community-supported agriculture meat and poultry operation.

"From farm-raised fish to livestock raised without the use of drugs or hormones, these two tours represent sustainable ways to 'grow' healthy food of all kinds," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension specialist who is coordinator of the tours.

URBANA - Registration is now open for a University of Illinois Extension multi-species grazing conference to be offered at three locations in July. The conference will be offered July 24 in Milan, July 26 in Lincoln, and July 31 in Marion.

URBANA - Sign-ups for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which began June 2, may not have an impact on feed grain demand, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Clues about the potential impact of the CRP's critical feed initiative on feed grain consumption will come from the number of acres enrolled," said Darrel Good. "The USDA's September 2008 and December 2008 Grain Stocks reports will provide an opportunity to uncover the impact in the calculation of quarterly domestic grain disappearance.

URBANA - Farm Dreams is a four-hour interactive workshop offered by University of Illinois Extension on several dates and at several locations around the state. "The workshop is designed to help people decide if entrepreneurial farming is right for them," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist.

URBANA-Thursday, August 21 has been set as the date for Agronomy Day 2008 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "Energizing Agriculture."

This 52nd consecutive Agronomy Day is a partnership among several academic units in the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). A special program at noon will feature the issue of biofuels,

URBANA - Corn and soybean markets are not reliant solely on energy or futures prices to support their levels, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Some suggest that corn and soybean prices have not been following fundamentals, but have traded on outside markets like crude oil," said Darrel Good. "However, energy prices are more fundamental to crop markets than ever before.

URBANA - U.S. consumers have the safest and most economical sources of dairy products in the world, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Milk continues to be in the news today as food prices continue to increase," said Mike Hutjens. "Consumers and dairy managers have a stake in purchase and policy decisions in this area and costs. Consumers have questions and alternatives."

Hutjens' comments came as he reviewed U.S. and world dairy consumption figures and policy matters on the eve of June Dairy Month.

URBANA - As dairy consumers face higher prices in the stores, Illinois dairy farmers are being squeezed with higher feed costs, higher fuel prices, and higher input costs, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"The price hikes in the dairy coolers aren't being shared by dairy producers," said Mike Hutjens, noting that corn now costs producers $6 per bushel, fuel $4 per gallon, and other energy, fertilizer, and transportation costs are also higher for dairy enterprises.

URBANA - Between 2003 and 2007, the majority of corn and soybean production cost increases can be attributed to crude oil price increases, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"If crude oil prices continue to rise, production costs for corn and soybeans likely will continue to rise," said Gary Schnitkey, a U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. "Rising energy costs have brought into existence an era of high production costs for corn and soybeans.

Recent hog prices are described as a "miracle" by a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist, who compares the high prices to an answered prayer.

"Overall, the current futures forecasts say that producer losses will not be nearly as bad for the rest of this year as had been anticipated," said Chris Hurt. "But the markets also agree that it will be the spring of 2009 before the industry gets back into the black.

URBANA - Alumni of the University of Illinois Dairy Judging Team and the Illini Dairy Club, along with dairy industry members, are invited to participate in the fifth annual Illini Dairy Classic golf outing June 13 at the U of I Blue Course in Savoy.

The event kicks off at 12:30 p.m., according to Gene McCoy, a U of I animal sciences professor emeritus who organizes the event.

URBANA - Overall, 2007 was a good yielding year for corn in northern and central Illinois, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"Farms with corn yields averaging over 200 bushels per acre were common in 2007," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. "Yields were more variable in southern Illinois."

URBANA - Corn is responsible for most of the uncertainty in the market, and much of that is associated with the U.S. situation, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Late corn planting suggests that planted acreage may not significantly exceed producer intentions of only 86 million acres," said Darrel Good. "Based on an analysis of trend yields since 1990, and adjusting for 2008 planting progress, the USDA forecast the 2008 yield at 153.9 bushels. That projection is above those based on a longer trend and appears a little optimistic.

URBANA - Symptoms of the food-versus-fuel crisis are appearing regularly in the news but the underlying causes--and long-term implications--are poorly understood, said a University of Illinois agricultural economics professor.

URBANA - Assuming that the majority of the corn crop gets planted before the middle of May, prospects for a 2008 average U.S. yield at or above trend will be maintained, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The question is whether trend yield will be sufficient," said Darrel Good. "An estimate of actual planted acres will not be available until June 30.

"In addition, even with timely planting, yields are still mostly dependent on summer weather conditions."

URBANA - While the pace of the domestic soybean crush is slowing, the pace of exports and export sales of U.S. soybeans remains generally strong, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"For the year, the USDA projects exports at 1.075 billion bushels, only 3.8 percent below the record shipments of last year," said Darrel Good. "Through the first 34 weeks of the marketing year, USDA reports exports of 907 million bushels, only 2.4 percent less than shipped a year ago.

URBANA — Wetlands are filled with highly diverse plant and animal life that create self-sustaining ecosystems and benefit the overall water quality and environment. But in the past 200 years, due to increasing land development and agriculture, the United States has lost 53 percent of its wetlands and Illinois has lost 90 percent.

URBANA - A multi-state conference on beef reproduction has been cancelled. The Aug. 20-21 conference, Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle, scheduled for Moline, will not be held.

Conference organizers indicated there are no plans to reschedule the event in Illinois.

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Calf prices will be highly influenced by volatile feed prices as well as bullish finished cattle prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Much is riding on the size of grain, soybean, and forage crops this spring and summer," said Chris Hurt. "Eastern Corn Belt steer calf prices are expected to trade in a range of $100 to $115 this spring, with fall prices $5 to $10 higher at $105 to $120.

URBANA - Faculty and staff of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) were honored today at the annual Funk Awards banquet.

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award, the College's top faculty honor, went to James K. Drackley of the Department of Animal Sciences, Scott H. Irwin of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Emerson D. Nafziger of the Department of Crop Sciences.

URBANA - A vital program that provided nutrition, food safety, and budgeting education for more than a half-million Illinoisans in 97 counties between Oct. 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008 is among those whose future is in jeopardy due to the withholding of state funding for some programs under the direction of University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA - Veterinarians, beef producers, and livestock educators are encouraged to attend an Aug. 20-21 conference, Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle, to he held at the Stoney Creek Inn in Moline.

"This program was created by the Bovine Reproduction Task Force, a multi-state group, and the material covered will be cutting-edge," said Darrel Kesler, a professor of animal sciences at the University of Illinois. "Speakers will include experts in beef cattle research and Extension programs from throughout the United States."

URBANA-The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Monsanto Co. have established the Monsanto Fellows in Plant Breeding Fund. The new fund will finance graduate fellowship students pursuing doctoral degrees in plant breeding at the U of I's Plant Breeding Center in order to provide support for students working toward future careers in plant breeding.

URBANA — The second University of Illinois Extension sustainable agriculture tour is a tour in itself. Learn Great Foods is in its fourth season of arranging simple to elaborate tours to local food enterprises throughout the Midwest.

Friday, June 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. U of I Extension will sponsor this tour specially designed to highlight locally grown gourmet mushrooms, asparagus and other delicacies.

URBANA - As some producers consider planting more rather than less corn in 2008, the issue may be whether lingering cold, wet conditions will limit corn acreage, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"In the past, producers have been willing to plant corn 'late' in the face of high prices," said Darrel Good. "In 1995 and 1996, for example, 90 and 75 percent of the crop, respectively, was planted after May 1. Sixty and 45 percent of the crop, respectively, was planted after May 15.

URBANA - Five projects were awarded grants through the University of Illinois's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) partnership with the Mexican government through the CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología).

EDITOR'S NOTE: This release contains information about students from Oblong, Fults, Dewey, Cabery, Oneida, Pontiac, Quincy, Taylorville, Bement, Moweaqua, and Edinburg.

URBANA - The University of Illinois Meat Animal Evaluation team has been named Reserve National Champion at the 2008 National Collegiate Meat Animal Evaluation Contest, the "World Series" of collegiate judging events. The event was held March 27-29 in Oklahoma City and Stillwater, OK.

Editor's Note: This release contains information about students from Bloomington, Carlinville, Palestine, and Winnebago.

URBANA - The University of Illinois dairy team took top honors at the Seventh Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge held at Madison, Wisconsin. The U of I squad bested 31 other teams to win the April 4-5 event.

The pork industry must take responsibility for its own problems, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"That means aggressive liquidation, most likely based on financial attrition," said Chris Hurt. "That is not a pretty solution, but it is the market solution, and markets can be brutal.

"As those producers go down one by one, many of them may lament the crazy times they were caught up in as the biofuels era and the unusual macroeconomic events changed agricultural market relationships in 2008."

URBANA - Registrations made by May 2 will be only $30 for a swine reproduction conference in both English and Spanish to be offered May 15 in Sycamore, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"Due to generous sponsorship and support from exhibitors, we have been able to lower the registration fee from $45 per person to $30," said Rob Knox, U of I Extension swine reproduction specialist who has organized such programs in the past.

URBANA - Corn appears to be more profitable than soybeans in 2008 by wider margins than in recent years, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"Projections for 2008 indicate that the differences between corn and soybeans may be even wider than in 2006 and 2007," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who prepared the study with colleague Dale Lattz. "Corn is projected to be more profitable in all regions of Illinois.

URBANA - An Excel spreadsheet that helps swine producers calculate the value of including distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in their feeding program, has been developed at the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences. The spreadsheet can be found at the Illinois Pork Producers Association website (http://www.ilpork.com).

URBANA - A training program for those interested in becoming Pork Quality Assurance-Plus (PQA-Plus) advisors will be offered April 17 in Springfield, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Pork Producers Association. The event will be held at the IPPA office, 6411 S. 6th St. Road.

URBANA - Corn producers should find good news in three recent USDA reports, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The USDA's quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, the quarterly Grain Stocks report, and the annual Prospective Plantings report all appeared to be supportive for corn prices," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - A swine reproduction conference in both English and Spanish is targeted for Spanish-speaking workers and their employers and will be offered May 15 in Sycamore, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA - Costs to produce a bushel of corn were generally higher in 2007 than in 2006, and soybean costs were up in all areas of the state compared to 2006, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"Cost to Produce Corn and Soybeans in Illinois--2007" (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/newsletters/fefo08_05/fefo08_05.html) is available on U of I Extension's farmdoc website.

URBANA - Corn may be a more profitable crop for Illinois producers in 2008 than soybeans, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"Relative profitability of corn and soybeans may impact acreage decisions," explained Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who prepared the study with Extension colleague Darrel Good. "Given the current cash bids for fall delivery, our analysis suggests that corn will be more profitable than soybeans in 2008 on many farms in Illinois.

URBANA - Although the prairies of central Illinois may seemed far removed from the image of large-scale cattle production, a national purebred cattle association knows better and has picked a site near the University of Illinois campus for its national conference. SimPlace 2008, The Science of Making Better Cattle and Better Beef, the national meeting of the American Simmental Associaton, will be held April 8-9 at the Holiday Inn, Urbana.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are rising at an alarming rate, and new research indicates that soybean plant defenses go down as carbon dioxide goes up. Elevated carbon dioxide impairs a key component of the plant's defenses against leaf-eating insects, according to the report.

The University of Illinois study appears this week online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

URBANA - The most important of three upcoming USDA reports in terms of crop prices may be the Prospective Plantings report, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Expectations for planting intentions seem to be centering around 87 million acres for corn and 71 to 72 million acres for soybeans," said Darrel Good. "That estimate compares to 2007 acreage of 93.6 million and 63.63 million, respectively. Intentions for spring wheat are expected to exceed last year's seedings.

URBANA - Although faced with daunting feed costs challenges, dairy producers need to be careful when responding, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Some decisions, seemingly made for the best economic reasons, can turn out to be wrong," said Mike Hutjens.

URBANA - Soybean oil prices appear to remain overvalued even after last week's decline and some additional weakness would not be surprising, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"However, with continued strong demand and declining stocks, prices will be heavily influenced by the magnitude of world soybean production in 2008-09," said Darrel Good. "A significant increase in U.S. soybean acreage is expected and any weather-related delay in corn planting would likely increase those already-inflated expectations.

URBANA - The first University of Illinois Extension sustainable agriculture tour this season represents one of the more unusual enterprises in Illinois — Tuesday, May 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Eagle Dancer Ridge Lamas, Inc. in East Peoria. (Note: the genus name is spelled with one "L" and Eagle Dancer raises both llamas and alpacas).

URBANA - Taking a five- to ten- minute online survey will help University of Illinois Extension make informed decisions about livestock grazing education and programming, according to U of I Extension Assessment and Planning Director Pennie Crinion.

URBANA — The first in a series of interactive video conferences being offered is entitled, Introduction to Hoophouse/High Tunnel Production Systems.

It will be presented on March 20 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 pm. The program is available via live streaming video (must have a broadband, high-speed connection) on March 20 but will also be available for later viewing.

For information about how to connect to the conference, visit http://www.tristateorganic.info/.

URBANA-The recent high cost of nitrogen fertilizer and the high current price of wheat have had a major impact on the proper rate of spring fertilizer nitrogen application to wheat.

"Recent studies across the state have provided some important insights on the optimum economic nitrogen rate on wheat," said agronomist Steve Ebelhar from University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA — A recent study at the University of Illinois created a bit of a mystery for soil scientist Michelle Wander — increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was expected to increase plant growth, increase plant biomass and ultimately beef up the organic matter in the soil -- but it didn't. What researchers found instead was that organic matter decay increased along with residue inputs when carbon dioxide levels were increased and they think the accelerated decay was due to increased moisture in the soil.

URBANA — The University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP) has been active for almost 20 years. Recently the program has created an interactive website to foster dialogue and sharing of information on sustainability.

The site is located at asap.sustainability.uiuc.edu.

URBANA - Increasingly, the dominant factor determining corn and soybean prices will be 2008 production prospects in the northern hemisphere, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Forty-five dairy calves will be on the auction block March 29 at the 60th Purebred Dairy Cattle Association calf sale at the University of Illinois Round Barns. The sale begins at 12:30 p.m. and is preceded by the 11:30 a.m. meeting of the PDCA.

According to retired U of I Extension specialist Gene McCoy, the sale includes three Ayrshires, four Brown Swiss, one Guernsey, 19 Jerseys, one Milking Shorthorn, and two Holsteins.

Those with questions about the sale can contact McCoy at (217) 840-0157.

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The North American pork industry remains on pace to suffer the most damaging financial year ever due to a period of twin horrors, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Most pork producers who take the market risk are in the midst of another financial disaster," said Chris Hurt. "They face a period of excessive pork production while also battling feed price escalation of historic proportions. There seemingly is no cure until the financial carnage is sufficient to decisively reduce the size of the breeding herd."

URBANA - A 30 percent chance exists this year that harvest prices will exceed Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC) limits, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"This probability is much higher than has existed in previous years," said Gary Schnitkey. "Higher chances of exceeding CRC limits increase the value of Revenue Assurance crop insurance relative to CRC."

URBANA - The corn and soybean markets need to offer the right incentives for corn and soybean acreage in 2008, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"That means prices should generally favor corn over soybeans for the U.S. spring planting, and then soybean prices should be high enough from about August forward to encourage more soybean acres in South America," said Darrel Good. "The market appears to be giving the correct signals for now, but must avoid the mistake of 2006 when prices encouraged too large a shift from corn to soybeans."

URBANA - A major electrical problem at the Illinois State Fairgrounds has forced a change in date and location for the 2008 IPT Bull Sale. The event now will be held on Feb. 29 at the Interstate Center, located west of Bloomington.

"The Center is on the west side of Bloomington and can be easily accessed from Interstate 55&74 at exit 160," said Dave Seibert, University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator. "At exit 160, take Illinois Route 9 west for 3/4 of a mile to the third stoplight and turn right into the Interstate Center.

URBANA - A new study by University of Illinois agricultural economists challenges the assumption that improved technology has recently caused corn trend yields to increase at a faster rate.

URBANA - The debate surrounding the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is an indication of the concern about production risk in 2008 and the implications for crop prices and the resulting impact on livestock producers and, ultimately, on food prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"This concern may not subside until a clearer picture of 2008 U.S. and world production prospects unfold," said Darrel Good. "While the current focus is on acreage, prospective yield will become the focal point later in this spring.

URBANA - A growing segment of Illinois' rural economy has a new information source, courtesy of University of Illinois Extension. "Illinois Agritrourism" (http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/agritourism/) was developed by John Pike, a U of I Extension community and economic development educator.

URBANA - Registration is open for a March 8 barn tour and meeting sponsored by the Illinois Lamb and Wool Producers and the Illinois Valley Lamb and Wool Producers. The tour will be at the Royer farm in Washington and the meeting will be held at the Stonewings Center, 2164 Washington Road, Washington.

URBANA - Registration is now open for the 2008 Illinois Sheep Shearing School to be held April 4 and 5 at the Livestock Center, Western Illinois University in Macomb.

"Students will be taught the Australian method of shearing, which is used worldwide," said Dick Cobb, University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist. "Additionally, table shearing will be taught on April 5. Equipment will be supplied but will also be available for purchase.

URBANA - Garlic mustard has become an invasive species in temperate forests across the United States, choking out native plants on forest floors and threatening ecosystem diversity. University of Illinois ecologist Adam Davis has created a computer model that in combination with quarantined research tests he believes will be able to predict the perfect predator -- a pest that can be introduced into a forested area that will help reduce the garlic mustard population.

URBANA - The USDA's February report of U.S. and world crop supply and consumption prospects underscores the need for large crops in 2008, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The report confirmed prospects for larger exports and smaller year-ending stocks of U.S. soybeans and wheat. Projections of the use and stocks of U.S. corn during the current marketing year were unchanged," said Darrel Good.

URBANA — For the sixth consecutive year, University of Illinois Extension is offering tours that highlight sustainable agriculture operations around the state of Illinois.

"Sustainable agriculture looks a little different as each operation develops its own niche products, agritourism opportunities and other enterprises to maintain or supplement farm income," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist who is coordinating the tours.

The schedule for the 2008 sustainable agriculture tours is as follows:

URBANA-The Illinois Forage Institute will be held on Tuesday, February 26 at the Holiday Inn, Mount Vernon, IL, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding at 3:45 p.m. The educational program will focus on managing pastures and hay lands. In addition, there will be several presentations focusing on utilizing forages and crop residues in meeting the nutritional needs of beef cattle.

URBANA - Farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota will be able to receive discounts on crop insurance for non-irrigated corn grown for grain by using the Biotech Yield Endorsement (BYE), said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

The impact of higher feed prices has had the most adverse impact on cow-calf operations in the form of lower calf prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Record calf prices occurred in 2005, but have decreased about 16 cents per pound since feed costs increased," said Chris Hurt. "This represents a decrease of about $80 per head on a 500-pound calf, or around a $3 billion annual decrease to the cow-calf sector.

Urbana -- More than 1,500 high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from across the state of Illinois are expected in Urbana-Champaign this spring for a two-day opportunity to get to know the people and the programs of one of the largest colleges within the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

ExplorACES acquaints prospective students and their families with the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Now in its fourth year, the popular event is set for Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8, 2008.

URBANA - Corn and soybean prices will likely continue to be very volatile and influenced by a large number of factors, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Until there is some evidence of a slowdown in use that reduces the needed increase in acreage in 2008 however, prices are likely to remain well-supported," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - A program to address how risk and returns can be managed using crop insurance and forward pricing will be offered at five locations in February, sponsored by the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

URBANA - A four-part seminar focused on grazing in the dairy industry will be offered in March, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"This is a unique educational program for dairy producers involved in grazing," said Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator in charge of the program, "Dairy Grazing Brown Bagger Teleconference."

The name comes from the fact that the seminars are offered from noon to 1:15 p.m. on four Fridays--March 7, 14, 21, and 28.

URBANA — Seven scholars from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) have been selected to form the ACES Academy for Global Engagement Class of 2008. The year-long program encourages global awakening among faculty in areas of education, research and outreach.

URBANA-Production and harvest strategies will highlight the Alfalfa Production and Harvesting Workshop hosted by University of Illinois Extension on February 29. The program will run from 9:30 am to 12 Noon and will be presented via distance delivery at 32 U of I Extension offices across the state. Registration will begin at 9 a.m.

URBANA - Producers who want to forward price the 2009 or 2010 soybean crops may have to sell futures directly, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"High prices for these crops entice producers to do some forward pricing, while the weak basis and margin risk of hedging discourage forward pricing," said Darrel Good.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A team of plant geneticists and crop scientists has pioneered an economical approach to the selective breeding of maize that can boost levels of provitamin A, the precursors that are converted to vitamin A upon consumption. This innovation could help to enhance the nutritional status of millions of people in the developing world.

The new method is described this week in the journal Science.

URBANA - When corn and soybean prices rally as strongly as is now occurring, it is useful to keep a watchful eye for developments that might suggest a waning of the fundamental support for prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - The largest number of Simmental bulls--43--in the recent history of the sale are listed for the Feb. 21, 2008, Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale to be held on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

URBANA - Two seminars in beef sire selection and management will be offered later this month, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The most important decisions made each year in the cow-calf enterprise are the selection, health, and management of the herd sire," said Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator. "Not only does he contribute 50 percent of the genetic makeup of the offspring, but he also can have a major impact on the calf crop from birth through harvest."

URBANA - An integrated model of pricing corn and soybeans that considers a broader range of strategies than traditional approaches may help producers make pricing decisions in a volatile environment, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

This year may be the worst financial year for pork producers since the infamous 1998, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"All you have to say to a pork producer is '1998' and the most jovial fellow will turn red with rage, or drop his shoulders in a feeling of helplessness. Unfortunately, those emotions may be relived as 2008 may replace 1998 as the worst financial year for pork producers in modern history," said Chris Hurt.

URBANA - Computer workshops to help agricultural producers manage risk and make better financial decisions will be offered in February and March by University of Illinois Extension. The workshop series is part of the Farm Analysis Solution Tools (FAST) program.

URBANA - A University of Illinois Extension website focusing on agricultural marketing, finance, management, law, policy, and other issues is drawing about 250,000 page requests each month, and a special report on ethanol has generated significant interest.

"The ethanol report alone was downloaded 33,000 to 35,000 times in the first three weeks following its posting," said Robert Hauser, head of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics which oversees the website.

URBANA — "As more ethanol plants are built and begin production in Illinois and surrounding states, the availability of co-products for livestock feed will increase dramatically," said Richard Knipe, University of Illinois Extension Beef Specialist.

"Co-products may offer the cattle industry a tremendous opportunity in feed costs without sacrificing performance."

Beef producers in Illinois will have the opportunity to attend the Beef Cattle Co-Products Seminar Wednesday, January 30 in Aledo at 10:00 a.m. or Mount Carroll at 4:45 p.m.

Urbana -- U of I scientists are overcoming biological barriers to cross soybeans and Glycine tomentella, a distant cousin of soybeans, to produce fertile seeds that hold significant promise for increasing genetic diversity.

"Tomentella is a small, viney, perennial that originated from the Brampton Island off Queensland, Australia. It is a distant cousin to the soybean and has useful traits such as resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematodes, soybean aphids, and even viruses like bean pod mottle," said Ram Singh, University of Illinois plant cytogeneticist.

Urbana -- The latest perspectives on critical crop production issues will be discussed at three University of Illinois regional crop management conferences. In southern Illinois, the conference is set for January 29-30 at the Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center. The conference moves to Springfield on February 12-13 at the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center. The final offering is in northern Illinois on February 19-20 at the Kishwaukee College Convention Center, Malta. At each location, the conference runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first day, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second day.

URBANA - Projections for 2008 by University of Illinois Extension indicate that corn production will be more profitable than soybean production in northern and central Illinois but soybeans take the edge in southern Illinois.

Editor's Note: This is the final Weekly Outlook for 2007. The next Outlook will be sent on January 7, 2008.

URBANA - A University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist expressed doubts about early projections for 2008 U.S. harvested acreage of corn, soybeans, and wheat needing to be larger than 2007 figures by about 7.4 million acres.

NEWARK - University of Illinois Extension will host a lambing workshop here on Jan. 26. The 3:30 p.m. event will be held at Midland Crossing, a feed and general store located at 105 West Illinois Route 71.

Two presenters are on the program.

"I'll be discussing preparation for lambing season as well as lambing and what to do after lambing to help make things run smoothly," said Dick Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist.

Amy Johnson, a noted Southdown breeder from Sandwich, will discuss the feeding of pregnant and lactating ewes.

URBANA - Strong milk prices and continuing demands to improve productivity and efficiency emphasize the need for dairy producers to make informed management decisions. Information to assist in that process will be available at the 2008 Illinois Dairy Days, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA — The 2008 Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short Course will be held on January 21 and February 4, 2008, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Building.

URBANA - Applications for a master's degree program that combines research experience in the swine industry with research training in the Department of Animal Sciences are due Jan. 31.

The degree--The Maschhoffs Inc.-sponsored Master of Science in Animal Sciences-Swine Production Management--is designed as a two-year program for high-caliber students with a B.S. degree in Animal Sciences or an associated discipline.

URBANA - With corn, soybean, and wheat prices at lofty levels, some temporary declines in prices might be expected, but there is little to suggest that prices will move significantly lower in the near term, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"More acreage of all three crops may be needed in the United States in 2008, and the prices of other crops are moving higher as well," said Darrel Good. "In addition to more acreage, a favorable growing season is needed in 2008 to prevent another round of sharply higher prices.

URBANA - The strong demand scenario for corn implies that U.S. corn acreage will have to remain large in 2008 if supplies are to remain adequate to keep prices "reasonable" for users, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"High wheat and soybean prices provide more competition for corn acreage than in 2007, implying that corn prices will remain high in order to ensure adequate acreage," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed corn prices.

URBANA -- The Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will offer a series of workshops from December, 2007 through March, 2008 to help producers comply with the Livestock Management Facilities Act and other environmental regulations.

URBANA - It is time to recognize what farmers have known for generations--the highly productive animal will be the animal that appears to be experiencing low stress, says a Department of Animal Sciences professor in a new journal article.

"An important issue in animal agriculture nowadays is the public demand for evidence that animals on farms and ranches are being treated humanely, that animal state of being (ASB) is high most of the time," explains Stan Curtis in the most recent issue of The Professional Animal Scientist.

URBANA--The latest perspectives on critical issues in crop production and protection for corn and soybean growers will highlight a series of regional conferences scheduled at five sites during Jan. 14-18, 2008.

The 2008 University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classics will cover a wide array of "hot" topics, including economic returns for corn and soybean. Other sessions will cover strip tillage, foliar fungicides for corn, the corn and soybean basis, corn rootworm management, soybean cyst nematodes, corn following corn, soybean aphids, and waterhemp management.

URBANA--The website developed by University of Illinois Extension to provide information about certified livestock management training has recently been revised and updated. The site, which contains new features for Illinois manure management plans and livestock regulations, is available on the internet at http://www.clmt.uiuc.edu/

Hog numbers will continue to run higher than anticipated, dragging out the potential for losses until next spring, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"If everything had gone as planned, hog producers would not be mired in the largest losses since late in 2002 when they were losing $25 per hog," said Chris Hurt. "But, things did not go as planned.

URBANA - Sustained weakness in corn, soybean and wheat prices is not expected in the near term as supplies remain tight and demand is firm, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Tight world stock will continue to magnify the impact of production uncertainty into the foreseeable future," said Darrel Good. "Volatility in energy and currency markets will also add to the volatility of crop prices. Risk has increased significantly."

URBANA - Paying farmers to protect the environment is an idea worth exploring, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist who co-authored a new United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report on the topic.

URBANA - Non-land costs for Illinois farmers are projected to increase in 2008, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Non-land costs will average around $370 per acre for corn and around $220 per acre for soybeans," said Gary Schnitkey. "After considering land costs, costs for corn on many farms in northern and central Illinois will be in the mid to high $500s per acre range. Some farms, with either higher than average non-land costs or high cash rents, could have costs over $600 per acre.

Urbana -- Currently, sixty-three percent of primary school age children in India go to bed hungry. By providing a mid-day meal that integrates soy protein, hunger can be minimized as a barrier to learning, according to Vijaya Jain, of the National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois.

"A wholesome meal continues to be the most powerful incentive for many children to come to school in India. That meal also helps them stay in school and perform better academically," said Jain.

URBANA - Following the recent sharp increases, corn and soybean prices are expected to trade in more of a sideways pattern, with a little weaker tone, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The trend in wheat prices is still down," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed the USDA's November Crop Production report, along with the monthly update of world supply and consumption prospects--all of which contained a number of changes from the October reports.

URBANA--The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has released the 2007 results from its variety testing program for corn and soybeans. The data from these latest trials are available in both printed form and on the Internet at http://vt.cropsci.uiuc.edu/.

URBANA- The University of Illinois' 2008 Crop Protection Technology Conference is scheduled for Wednesday, January 9 and Thursday, January 10, 2008, at the Illini Union on the U of I campus.

This year's session marks the 60th anniversary of the conference, which aims to highlight important issues affecting both agriculture and the environment. Co-chairs for the event are Carl Bradley, Mike Gray, Sandy Osterbur, and Kevin Steffey.

URBANA - Prospects for a sharp decline in U.S. soybean stocks by the end of the 2007-08 marketing year suggest that an increase in U.S. soybean production, and therefore acreage, will be required in 2008, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Are the current boom times for U.S. farmers the start of a new era or merely a prelude to historical pattern ending in a bust? Answering these and other related questions will be the focus of three programs in December sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

The 2007 Illinois Farm Economic Summit, to be held Dec. 11 in Effingham, Dec. 12 in Bloomington, and Dec. 13 in Sycamore, is the successor to the Farm Income Seminar series held in past years, said Paul Ellinger, U of I Extension farm finance specialist who is organizing the program.

URBANA - Automated harvesting is considered science fantasy by some farmers, but students at the University of Illinois have developed a small-scale harvesting model that could help bring fantasy one step closer to reality.

URBANA - Ten years from now, what alternative fuels will we be using? How will we protect our privacy in a networked world? Just how realistic will they make computer games?

URBANA - Opportunities to price more of the 2007 corn crop may develop over the next few weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"December 2007 futures above $3.90, however, might require some new fundamental information," said Darrel Good. "On the supply side, the new USDA production forecast to be released on Nov. 9 will be important."

URBANA - Facing high-priced grains and hay in short supply, beef producers will have an information source about feeding co-products to their herds at a Nov. 28 conference sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The Beef Cattle Co-Products Conference will be held at the U of I Extension building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

While finished cattle prices will set new records this year, those lofty expectations have been lowered a bit in recent weeks, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - As animal housing continues to move toward larger buildings, the research team at the Bioenvironmental and Structural Systems (BESS) Lab at the University of Illinois is working hard to keep up with industry trends. What this means is that the BESS Lab, which is known worldwide for testing livestock ventilation fans, is checking out larger and larger fans.

URBANA - Small acreage doesn't have to mean small income, according to a series of workshops being offered by University of Illinois Extension. "Small farms have unique challenges," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, University of Illinois Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist. "We wanted to offer workshops that would provide small farm operations with information tailored to their needs."

November 2

Putting Small Acreage to Work

Location: Findlay

URBANA - While farmland prices currently exceed capitalized values, likely increases in cash rents will bring farmland prices and capitalized values more closely in line with the historical average difference, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

URBANA - When University of Illinois crop scientist Fred Below began growing tropical maize, the form of corn grown in the tropics, he was looking for novel genes for the utilization of nitrogen fertilizer and was hoping to discover information that could be useful to American corn producers.

URBANA - Large U.S. corn exports will help offset the slowdown in domestic feed and residual use of corn and a somewhat slower rate of increase in corn used for ethanol production, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Wheat prices appear to have peaked, at least for now, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Prices may remain generally high, but very volatile as 2008-09 production prospects, both acreage and yield, unfold," said Darrel Good. "The USDA's Winter Wheat Seedings report, to be released the second week in January, will provide the first indication of how U.S. producers responded to the high prices."

URBANA - For the second year in a row, the undergraduate program in agricultural engineering at the University of Illinois has been ranked the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

"We continue to have a high quality program," said K.C. Ting, head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). "It's hard to hold on to number one—it's a slippery slope. But we have been in the top three for quite a while, so our program has always been strong."

BLOOMINGTON - Applications of "hand-held" technologies to farming and other agribusinesses will be the focus of a Dec. 13 conference, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. "it4Ag" will be held at the Interstate Center, 2301 W. Market St., Bloomington.

"Farmers have many new delivery systems for information today," explained Dennis Bowman, U of I Extension crop systems educator based in Champaign and one of the conference's organizers. "Increasingly, producers use the Internet and podcasts to get information when and where they need it.

URBANA - Although this summer's unusually heavy rainfall was particularly hard on the northern Illinois pumpkin crop, University of Illinois researchers say that growers may have less income, but consumers won't have a problem finding a jack-o-lantern.

"Illinois consumers will not suffer. There will be plenty of fall pumpkins," said Mosbah Kushad. "The flooding has affected the crops especially north of I-80, but it will just mean that there will be fewer pumpkins exported this year to other states."

So far, the pork industry has escaped making the adjustments necessitated by higher feed prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"However, some downward adjustments in the breeding herd may be needed in the coming year as the industry is forced to respond to both higher feed and other input costs and to the potential slowing of export growth," said Chris Hurt. "Pork producers had a great profit run stretching back to early 2004, but that long run of pleasant financial days appears ready to come to an end."

URBANA--Soybean rust has been detected for the first time in Illinois during the 2007 growing season from a field in the southern part of the state, according to experts from University of Illinois Extension.

What does the 21st Century hold for India's growing economy? How will the world's largest democracy handle supporting over a billion people in the future?

URBANA - Pricing and storage decisions for the 2007 soybean crop are being influenced by the current high price, the weak basis, and the availability of storage, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Two pasture walks will be sponsored in October by University of Illinois Extension. A farm near Sydney will be the site of an Oct. 9 meat goat pasture walk. The program begins at 5:30 p.m. at Rush Creek Farm. The second walk, focusing on sheep pasture, will be Oct. 10, also starting at 5:30 p.m., at the Arrowsmith farm of Elton and Spring Mau.

URBANA - The 2007 corn crop's actual size and the magnitude of year-ending stocks are not only important for the price of the crop, but have significant implications for the magnitude of corn acres that may be needed in the United States in 2008, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Illinois dairy producers face three different situations as fall weather returns and they consider options for their corn crops, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

URBANA - Wheat prices, currently at extremely high levels, raise some important questions about U.S. crop acreage for the year ahead, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Depending on the size of the 2007 U.S. corn crop and soybean planting decisions in South America, there may be a need for U.S. producers to plant more acres to those two crops in 2008," said Darrel Good. "If winter wheat seedings increase significantly, generating an increase in corn or soybean acreage will be a challenge."

URBANA - As grain prices rise and hay is in short supply, beef cattle producers may look at co-products to fill the void in their cow-calf and feeding operations, said a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator.

"To answer some of the questions such producers might have, a conference will be held Nov. 28 at the U of I Extension building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds," said Dave Seibert. "A wide range of topics related to feeding co-products will be covered by expert speakers from three states."

URBANA - John Caveny, a Piatt County farmer, compares Giant Miscanthus to a mule.

Giant Miscanthus, a tall, perennial grass, is the sterile cross between two plants, and a mule is the sterile result of a cross between a horse and a donkey. The $1 million question is whether Giant Miscanthus, like a mule, can take on a heavy load - in this case, the job of freeing the U.S. from its dependence on overseas petroleum. Giant Miscanthus is one of the leading candidates for cellulosic ethanol production.

URBANA - U.S. energy policy is heavily influencing the rate of growth in bio-diesel production and the related consumption of soybean oil, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Even though bio-diesel production continues to grow, profit margins are narrow and production would not be profitable at all without the current large subsidies," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - While increasing market opportunities have led many Illinoisans to consider raising meat goats, those interested are often unfamiliar with modern production techniques, said a University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist.

"Because the interest in meat goat production is new, there are few experienced goat producers in the state to help newcomers in their desire to learn as much as possible," explained Dick Cobb.

URBANA - It's become an annual tradition for Eric Rund to travel to Latin America with a group of Midwestern producers to study various farming practices. In 2006, energy costs were on everyone's minds, so he decided to take a group to Brazil to look at how they manage their ethanol production.

He was so impressed that he is leading another group to Brazil in January 2008 to take an even closer look at ethanol production. The trip will include a stop to observe sugarcane being harvested to see how they handle the tremendous tonnage of material.

URBANA - University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist Dick Cobb will be among the presenters Sept. 22 at the All-Breed Goat Expo at the Wayne County fairgrounds in Fairfield. The event is sponsored by the Midwest Goat Producers.

Cobb will present a seminar on the daily observation and maintenance of a goat herd.

The event opens at 9 a.m. and features other seminars on a variety of topics, including feed and nutrition, grading, rotational pasture grazing, and hoof trimming. Goats and sheep will also be on sale.

The next 12 months appear to be near breakeven for pork producers with continuing uncertainties in feed prices and export markets, especially with regard to the potential for more Chinese pork purchases as disease pressure may reduce Chinese production, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Somewhat surprisingly, the pork industry has not made supply adjustments in the face of higher feed prices," said Chris Hurt. "In fact, pork producers have been modestly increasing the breeding herd and seem content to continue to do so.

URBANA - Illinois farmland values continue to go up, increasing 92 percent since 2000, said a University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist.

"The average farm real-estate value for Illinois in 2007 was $4,330 per acre, the highest on record," said Dale Lattz. "This includes the value of all land and buildings. The figure was 13.9 percent higher than the 2006 average of $3,800 per acre.

URBANA - Tax professionals who want to answer client's questions about college funding might want to consider a seminar sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The program will be offered in four locations throughout the state between Oct. 1 and 4," said Terri Kobel, program director for the U of I Tax School.

URBANA - Thirty-four locations throughout Illinois will host a seminar of interest to tax professionals between Oct. 23 and Dec. 7, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"This year's U of I Fall Tax School will address topics such as individual taxpayer problems, like-kind exchanges, Schedule K-1 issues, death of a taxpayer, new legislation, small business issues, entity issues, S corporations, and elder issues," said Terri Kobel, the tax school's program director.

In July, 2007, the Chancellor Sir Christian Bonington, Lancaster University, North-West of England's leading higher education institution, presented an honorary degree to Professor Steve Long, Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

Professor Long, Robert Emerson professor in Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois, was awarded a doctor of science and also gave a special lecture entitled Plants Mitigating Global Change via Sustainable Biofuel Production.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The routine use of antibiotics in swine production can have unintended consequences, with antibiotic resistance genes sometimes leaking from waste lagoons into groundwater.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois report that some genes found in hog waste lagoons are transferred – "like batons" – from one bacterial species to another. The researchers found that this migration across species and into new environments sometimes dilutes – and sometimes amplifies – genes conferring antibiotic resistance.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Expectations of higher corn prices are leading some farmers to neglect or ignore integrated pest management strategies, and their behavior could undermine the very technologies that sustain them, University of Illinois researchers report today at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston.

URBANA - There has been general concern about the capacity to store fall harvested crops in light of the prospects for the 2007 corn crop to exceed 13 billion bushels, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“With production forecasts now available, prospective fall supplies can be calculated,” said Darrel Good.

URBANA – Saudi Arabia may not be viewed as a dairy-producing nation, but its large-scale farms are selling milk in several Mideast countries, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

“Saudi Arabia is very future-oriented and taking major financial resources from its oil revenues and investing in dairy production,” explained Michael Hutjens, who visited dairy operations there and in Japan and Egypt this summer. “Most of the labor in Saudi dairy farms is foreign. One of the farms I worked with had 7,000 North American Holsteins and was adding 2,500 more.

Milk Prices: Up or Down?

URBANA - Consumer and dairy managers continue to wonder when and if the price of milk and dairy products will decline, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"In June 2007, a gallon of milk was 43 cents higher in price than in June 2006 and butter was up 18 cents per pound over the same period, according to the USDA," said Michael Hutjens. "However, prices can vary greatly among regions and within states."

Several factors will impact consumer prices for milk and dairy products in the future, he added.

URBANA – Flexible cash rent leases may aid farmers and landowners in setting rents during a period of variable commodity prices, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

URBANA – Classes in the principles of dairy science and reproduction will be taught this fall at the University of Illinois through online instruction. Advanced Dairy Reproduction begins on Sept. 4 and Principles of Dairy Science starts on Sept. 10.

Lectures for both classes are recorded on CD with an internet class held for one-hour a week during the 10 weeks of class. Enrollees can participate for credit by paying U of I tuition or for non-credit with reduced tuition.

URBANA – Widespread concern about grain storage space this year may exist in some quarters but it is unfounded, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“If new space was added at the same rate in 2007 as in 2006, national storage space will exceed fall grain supplies—old crop stocks plus production—by about the same margin as in 2004 and 2005,” said Darrel Good. “Even in Illinois, where the corn crop is expected to be 27 percent larger than in 2006, the deficit of storage space will not likely be larger than in 2004.”

URBANA - Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is the most significant disease problem facing the swine industry worldwide. In the United States alone, PRRS is estimated to have an economic impact between $560 million and $762 million annually on pork producers. Yet nearly 20 years after PRRS was first identified, there has been little success in developing economical and effective control strategies for this highly variable viral disease.

URBANA - Swine manure, vegetable oils and perennial grasses are all being used to develop alternative fuels in ongoing research projects at the University of Illinois. Those projects and others will be featured at Agronomy Day 2007 on Thursday, August 16, at the University of Illinois. "Growing Our Future" is the theme for this year's event and bioenergy in Illinois will be the focus of the program.

URBANA–Tuesday, August 21 has been set as the date for the 2007 Field Day at the University of Illinois' Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth. Tours of research plots will begin at 8:00 a.m. The last tour will depart at 9:00 a.m., and each tour will take about two hours to complete.

URBANA - Those who argue that the 2007 corn crop is already "made" and out of harm's way are ignoring history, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Models relating trend yield and state average monthly precipitation and temperature to actual state average yields in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa indicate that August weather has a significant impact on average yields," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - How much time would you be willing to spend to protect a $40,000 investment?

Grain producers need to consider that question every fall, said Ted Funk, a University of Illinois Extension agricultural and biological engineer.

"Harvest time will be here before we know it," said Funk, "and producers could be storing anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 of grain in a 10,000-bushel bin. It's a wise investment of time to prepare the bin and the grain for storage."

URBANA - Will the weak soybean basis strengthen and return to more normal levels, asked a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist?

URBANA - ManureTech 2007, the country's largest manure-focused farm show, will be held August 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Dairy Forage Research Center Farm, near Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, just northwest of Madison, Wisconsin.

"This show looks at all aspects of manure management, including storage, treatment and application," said Randy Fonner, University of Illinois Extension specialist.

URBANA - Despite its traumas, the U.S. cattle industry has a much more optimistic outlook for the rest of 2007 and 2008, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Cattle prices have been on a roll in recent months," said Chris Hurt, who added that the industry's past difficulties seemed to have paved the way for the current optimism.

URBANA - Seven members of the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences received national awards at the 2007 joint annual meeting of several animal science associations in San Antonio, Texas.

Roger D. Shanks, a professor whose research focuses on breeding, received the J.L. Lush Award in Animal Breeding from the American Dairy Science Association. The award recognizes outstanding research in animal breeding and work that has the potential for improvement in dairy cattle.

URBANA - An effort to train advisors for a new National Pork Board-sponsored program that combines food safety and animal well-being is being led by University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

"The new program--Pork Quality Assurance-Plus or PQA-Plus--was rolled out earlier this year and is funded by the Pork Check-off Program," explained Rob Knox, U of I Extension swine reproduction specialist, who is conducting the training sessions. "The people trained as advisors will then work with pork producers to implement the program."

URBANA - Farmland owners and producers should consider higher costs and additional risk when negotiating 2008 cash rents, said a University of Illinois Extension economist.

"Increased risk during the upcoming year suggests caution in increasing cash rents," said Gary Schnitkey. "Much larger farmer margins will need to be in place for similar risk levels as compared to the 2001-2005 period."

URBANA - Outfitting cars and farm equipment with global-positioning systems (GPS) is nothing new. But at a University of Illinois trust farm, even the cows come equipped with GPS.

It's all part of an agro-eco system that rotates corn and cattle on the same land. U of I scientists are analyzing this integrated system to help growers squeeze as much productivity out of their land as possible. And tracking cattle movement with GPS plays one key part in the study.

URBANA - In the very near term, soybean prices will be largely influenced by the progress of the U.S. crop and the expected size of the 2007 harvest, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"As the 2007 crop is priced, the market is encouraging that the crop be stored and priced for later delivery--selling futures, using a hedged-to-arrive contract, or a cash contract if the deferred basis bids are strong," said Darrel Good.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This release contains information about students from Oblong, Monticello, Quincy, Bement, Macomb, and Beecher City.

URBANA - Its first visit to Australia proved a resounding success as the University of Illinois Meats Judging team won the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest held at the University of New England at Armidale, NSW, Australia.

The U of I team prevailed over ten other teams representing Australia and Japan.

URBANA - Southwestern Illinois is home to the state's two leading livestock counties--Clinton and Greene, according to a recent University of Illinois study. Clinton County is tops in total output and Greene is first in terms the industry's share of personal income.

URBANA - A 30-year decline in the Illinois livestock industry has stabilized and some sectors, in fact, are growing, concludes a recent University of Illinois report.

"There is $1.939 billion in direct output from livestock products to the Illinois economy each year and a total economic impact of $3.173 billion," said Peter Goldsmith, an associate professor of agribusiness and the Soybean Industry Endowed Chair in Agricultural Strategy in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

URBANA - Genetically modified seeds that are resistant to a low-toxicity herbicide, glyphosate, have a positive environmental impact when compared to other technologies to combat weeds, according to a recent University of Illinois study.

"With the emergence of glyphosate-resistant (GR) weeds, the environmental consequences of alternatives to the use of genetically modified seed are of increasing importance," explained Gerald Nelson, a professor in the U of I Department of Agricultural and Consumer Sciences.

URBANA - Even with wide swings in anticipated feed prices, pork producers have maintained a steady hand on the reins, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Pork producers have continued a modest expansion to supply a growing world demand for their pork products in the face of greater financial risks and uncertainties to themselves," said Chris Hurt.

URBANA - Increases in state and federal minimum wages should not affect most Illinois farmers, said a University of Illinois Extension agricultural law specialist.

"Both the Illinois and federal minimum wage laws contain an exemption for agricultural employment," said Donald L. Uchtmann. "Because of these exemptions, only some Illinois farmers are required by law to pay minimum wage for agricultural employment. In contrast, none are required by law to pay 'time and a half' overtime for agricultural employment."

URBANA--Agronomy Day 2007 at the University of Illinois is scheduled for Thursday, August 16. The theme for this year's event is "Growing Our Future"

Besides tours and tent displays highlighting the latest developments in agricultural research, this year's program will include a special presentation at noon featuring Hans Blaschek, Director of U of I's Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER). He will discuss the future of bioenergy and implications for Illinois agriculture.

URBANA - Purebred breeders are urged to start identifying bulls they plan to consign to the 2008 Illinois Performance Tested (IPT) Bull Sale that will lead off Illinois Beef Expo Feb. 21 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

URBANA - The large corn acreage reflected in a recent USDA report and generally good crop conditions will keep corn prices on the defensive, though weather spikes are likely, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Longer term, corn prices will likely recover, particularly in relation to soybean prices, to ensure large acreage in the U.S again in 2008," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed the USDA's June 29 report of planted acreage. That report provided some significant surprises.

June 25, 2007

URBANA - U.S. weather and crop conditions continue to affect corn and soybean prices, but the June 29 release of the USDA's Acreage and Grain Stocks reports will provide additional fundamental information for these markets, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - The latest information on commodities, market prices, and dairy issues can be found on three new University of Illinois Extension podcasts.

"The new podcasts include Commodity Week, which offers weekly news analysis, prices and weather, the Illini Farm Report that discusses issues of concern to Illinois farmers, and Dairy Podcast, focusing on issues of interest to dairy producers and consumers," said Jane Scherer, U of I Extension urban programs specialist and director of Extension's website.

URBANA - Even though acreage estimates will be important in upcoming USDA reports, yield prospects will continue to dominate corn, soybean, and wheat prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Continuation of generally dry conditions in eastern and southeastern growing areas is of most concern," said Darrel Good. "Along with actual and forecast weather conditions, the USDA's weekly report of crop conditions will be monitored closely. Deteriorating crop conditions in eastern growing areas were expected to be reported in the June 18 update.

URBANA - As a general rule, the tenant's lease of farmland continues after the death of the landowner according to terms agreed to by the landowner before death, a University of Illinois Extension agricultural law specialist concluded.

"This holds true even for a multi-year lease," said Donald L. Uchtmann, who prepared the report, "Farm Owner's Death: Can Tenant Continue Farming under the Lease?"

URBANA - Two students have received $500 scholarships as a result of the University of Illinois Illini Dairy Judging team annual golf outing. Emily Lyons of Rockford and Clint Harre of Nashville, who will enroll this fall, were presented the scholarships at the June 8 event.

"This event provides a way for former judging team members, friends, and U of I alumnae to help support the judging team and scholarships for future team members," explained the club's advisor, Gene McCoy, a retired member of the Department of Animal Sciences.

URBANA - Prospects for extreme price volatility will make new crop corn and soybean pricing decisions very difficult, particularly for those in dry areas, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Still, the high prices offer the potential for good returns in 2007-08," said Darrel Good. His comments came as he reacted to the USDA's June projection of world supply and consumption which contained a number of changes from the May report.

"These forecasts, however, will likely take a back seat to unfolding crop prospects," he noted.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This release contains information about students from Oblong, Monticello, Quincy, Bement, Macomb, and Beecher City.

URBANA - For the first time, an American university has been invited to participate in the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest. The University of Illinois Meats Judging Team will compete in the July 6-7 contest at the University of New England, Armidale and Cargill Beef Australia at Tamworth, both in New South Wales.

URBANA - While ethanol-driven corn prices may be higher than historical averages, there is no reason to believe they won't be as volatile as in the past, said a University of Illinois Extension economist.

"Oil prices will have increasing impacts on corn prices," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. "Historically, crude oil prices have exhibited variability. Moreover, options contracts indicate that oil prices will be variable.

URBANA - University of Illinois Extension has added some new features to its Food Industry MarketMaker website -- The Buyers and Sellers Forum and the new national portal. Both were unveiled at the Value-Added Agriculture Conference in Lexington, Kentucky on June 3. The national portal website is located at national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu.

URBANA - Storage capacity issues in some areas of the Midwest, excepting Illinois, may not be any more severe than in the past three years, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Still, significant quantities of corn will likely have to be stored in temporary facilities, as has been the case in recent years," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - University of Illinois researchers are embarking on a major new study, in which they videotape sows around the clock to find out how elements of their "microenvironment" might create stress. Although this may sound like an animal science version of the "Big Brother" reality show, the ultimate goal is to find out how the microenvironment can affect the reproductive health and well-being of sows.

URBANA-Thursday, August 16 has been set as the date for Agronomy Day 2007 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "Growing Our Future"

This 51st consecutive Agronomy Day is a partnership among several academic units in the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The event features four tours on the latest developments in agricultural research, as well as numerous tent displays.

URBANA - The soybean market appears to be offering an early opportunity to price a portion of the 2007 crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Three weeks ago, we pondered the question of whether or not marketing year highs had been established in the corn and soybean markets," said Darrel Good. "It was noted that February highs had not occurred previously and that odds favored new highs, particularly in the corn market.

"As it turns out, new marketing year highs have been established for soybean prices, but not for corn prices."

URBANA - University of Illinois Extension is sponsoring a tour of Living Earth Farm in Farmington on Monday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. including a lunch featuring local and organic food.

"Living Earth Farm is committed to a system of agriculture which strives for a balance with nature, using methods and materials which are low impact to the environment," said owner Anne Patterson. "We never use genetically engineered seed, or synthetic pesticides and herbicides. We use crop rotations, cover crops, companion plants and follow a soil building plan."

Urbana -- Ohio environmental scientist and inventor David E. Ramey and his son, Steve Ramey, met briefly with University of Illinois Professor Hans Blaschek, director of the newly created Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, and two of Blaschek's graduate students, Zhen Shi and Eric Jones, on campus on Sunday.

URBANA - Consumers can expect the price of milk to increase 30 to 40 cents a gallon, 40 to 60 cents per pound for cheese, and 80 cents to $1.20 per pound for butter throughout 2007, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"This is due to increases in the prices of corn and feed for dairy cattle, shifting to ethanol production, energy costs, and a shortage of dairy products in the world market," said Mike Hutjens. "These will increase farm prices by four to six cents per pound of milk."

URBANA - Higher feed and fuel prices will probably take half the $4 to $6 per hundredweight price increase Illinois dairy farmers can expect for their product in 2007, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"2007 appears to be an economically positive year for Illinois dairy farmers with milk prices up $4 to $6 per hundredweight compared to 2006 when milk was below breakeven prices," said Mike Hutjens as he reviewed the state's dairy industry on the eve of June Dairy Month.

URBANA - Market participants and policy makers should be aware of the consequences of a large shortfall in U.S. corn production in 2007 and begin making plans even if that outcome is unlikely, conclude two University of Illinois agricultural economists.

URBANA - Even with the high costs of product due to higher-priced feed, hog prices have generally kept up with the high costs of production, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension economist.

"In the first quarter of the year, live prices averaged $46.20 per hundred weight, slightly under costs of production," said Hurt. "Since the end of March, hog prices have seen a strong seasonal surge, actually putting some green in bank accounts of hog producers."

URBANA--A system of 40 sentinel plots and 28 spore traps to provide producers with an early warning of the arrival of Asian soybean rust is once again in place across the state of Illinois.

URBANA - The market interpreted the USDA's monthly forecast of U.S. and world supply and consumption forecast on May 11 as supportive for corn, soybeans, and wheat price prospects, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

For the 2007 corn crop, the USDA projected the U.S. average yield potential at 150.3 bushels based on "an econometric model fit over 1996-2006 using a trend variable, July rainfall and temperature, and planting progress as of mid-May," Good noted.

URBANA -- University of Illinois Extension is hosting a one-day event entitled "Illinois Meat Goat Marketing Seminar" on Saturday, June 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. at the Illinois State University Research Farms in Lexington.

Kris Mazurczak, from the Bureau of Meat and Poultry Inspection in the Illinois Department of Agriculture will speak in the morning on the regulatory requirements for slaughtering, processing and selling of meat products for human consumption.

URBANA - "LLCs Taxed as Partnerships," a seminar for tax professionals, will be held at three locations in Illinois in June, sponsored by the University of Illinois Tax School.

"The seminar will address topics such as formation, operations, addition of members, transfer of membership, retirement of members, death of members, distributions and dissolutions of LLCs," explained Terri Kobel, director of the program based in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

URBANA--One of the oldest civil awards in the world has been granted to a professor in the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. Randall Westgren, director of the Food and Agribusiness Management program, has been named a Knight of the Order of Academic Palms by the French government.

Originally created by Napoleon, the award is presented to academics, professors, and others who have contributed to the advancement of the French educational mission.

Urbana -- Muscatune soil, which occurs on nearly 400,000 acres mostly in West-Central Illinois, is the state's most productive soil according to U of I Soil Scientist Ken Olson, who recently updated the productivity indices for the more than 840 Illinois soil types and soil complexes.

"We've assigned Muscatune soil the highest productivity index of 147 in Bulletin 811 -- Optimum Crop Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soils. Under optimum management, Muscatune soil registered a 10-year average of 190 bushels for corn, up 10 bushels for a decade earlier," Olson said.

Urbana -- Muscatune soil, which occurs on nearly 400,000 acres mostly in West-Central Illinois, is the state's most productive soil according to U of I Soil Scientist Ken Olson, who recently updated the productivity indices for the more than 840 Illinois soil types and soil complexes. "We've assigned Muscatune soil the highest productivity index of 147 in Bulletin 811 -- Optimum Crop Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soils. Under optimum management, Muscatune soil registered a 10-year average of 190 bushels for corn, up 10 bushels for a decade earlier," Olson said.

URBANA - A number of factors have contributed to cash corn prices moving sharply higher over the past two weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Even though the USDA's first projections of U.S. corn and soybean production and consumption during the 2007-08 marketing year will be important benchmarks, a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist noted that considerable uncertainty will persist for several months.

URBANA - Given the tremendous growth in foodstuffs imported into the United States, there are remarkably few problems with unsafe products entering the country, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

"There are many reasons for this," explained Laurian J. Unnevehr, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. "In essence, the market is working because the private sector has become increasingly vigilant. There are systems of management and quality certification in place.

URBANA - Participants in the summer's 4-H and State Fair livestock shows have a place to go to test their knowledge before entering a Young Producers Contest. "Livestock e-quiz" (http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/equiz/) includes questions at three levels--elementary, high school, and college.

URBANA - Stan Scott Schutte earned the 2006 Farmer of the Year Award for his innovative work on Triple S Farms in Stewardson -- destination for a sustainable agriculture tour hosted by University of Illinois Extension on Thursday, June 14.

Triple S is a 200-acre diversified organic operation that produces dozens of varieties of organic vegetables, chickens, turkeys, hogs and cattle, organic dent corn, sweet corn, popcorn, soybeans and hard red wheat.

URBANA - A first-hand look at an economical, environmentally friendly way to increase farm income can be had on 228 acres of farmland located midway between Pana and Taylorville.

"It's a place where people can come, see for themselves, and take home information they can use," explained Ed Ballard, a retired University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator who oversees a cattle grazing project on the U of I's Dudley Smith Farm.

URBANA - Farmers considering planting another crop to replace freeze-damaged wheat may have crop insurance considerations, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Recent freezes have harmed wheat causing some farmers to consider destroying wheat and planting another crop," said Gary Schnitkey. "For many farmers, planting another crop will have crop insurance implications. Farmers need to contact their crop insurance agents to discuss their specific situations."

URBANA - Dairy feeding and management practices that maximize profitability are the focus of a seminar bringing together dairy producers, feed industry personnel, and agribusiness professionals from four states June 13-14 in Dubuque, Iowa.

The Four-State Diary Nutrition and Management Conference is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension and Extension at the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa State University.

"There will be four general session presenters plus breakout sessions," said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

URBANA - The way for the brood cow sector of the beef industry to recover from high feed prices is to reduce the size of the cow herd, thereby reducing the level of beef production by 2009, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"In this manner, higher feed costs will eventually be passed to beef consumers," said Chris Hurt.

Hurt's comments came as he reviewed the impact of higher feed costs on beef producers.

URBANA - Faculty and staff of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) were honored today at the annual Funk Awards banquet.

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award, the College's top faculty honor, went to Michael E. Gray of the Department of Crop Sciences, Joseph H. Pleck of the Department of Human and Community Development, and Bryan A. White, Department of Animal Sciences.

URBANA - A 12-state effort to guide the transition to the greater use of bio-based fuels and products has elected Dennis Campion, Associate Dean for Extension in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to serve on its leadership team.

Urbana - Ethanol plants use about four gallons of water for every gallon of ethanol they make, using the dry grind process. But investigators at the University of Illinois are trying to determine if the amount of water that is recycled during ethanol production can be increased--significantly.

URBANA - If the 2007 soybean crop lives up to its potential, some further weakness in soybean prices can eventually be expected, particularly in prices for the 2007 crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"November 2007 futures may have risk down to near the $7.20 area," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - A report providing guidelines for feeding distillers dried grains with solubles to swine is now available at local University of Illinois Extension offices. "Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in diets fed to swine" was prepared by U of I Extension swine specialist Hans H. Stein.

"DDGS is produced from the fuel ethanol industry and is available for inclusion in diets fed to swine," he explained. "During recent years, several research projections have been completed to investigate the feeding value of DDGS."

URBANA - Total costs to produce corn in Illinois in 2006 were $488 per acre, a 6.5 percent increase over 2005, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study. The same report showed costs for soybeans increased $24 per acre over the same period.

URBANA - While 2007 corn acreage will increase in the Corn Belt, a higher percentage of corn acres are projected to be grown outside the Corn Belt, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

Hog producers appear not to have realized the changed message about ethanol-influenced corn prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Feed prices are much higher and the quickest way for hog prices to move higher is to cut production," said Chris Hurt. "Instead, hog producers continue to expand. Maybe it's because they have yet to witness the local ethanol plant using much of the corn they use to feed, but as a group they haven't gotten the message yet."

URBANA - The increase in farmland prices is not out of line with farmland returns, at least in central Illinois, according to a recent report by University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

URBANA - A multi-state, multi-disciplinary research and education program for the Midwest dairy industry has been launched by 10 Midwestern land-grant universities, headquartered in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences.

URBANA--The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will hold a major conference on the impact of using soybeans and corn for fuel production on the size of the livestock and poultry industries.

The event will take place on May 23-24 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the U of I campus in Urbana. The program is co-sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association.

URBANA--The Illinois Center for Soy Foods from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has scheduled several events to help celebrate National Soy Foods Month during April.

A free tasting of various soy recipes will be held on Wednesday, April 18 on the University of Illinois campus. Participants can enjoy tasting soy enhanced foods and will return home with recipes that they can try in their own kitchens.

More than a dozen recipes will be presented that represent the versatility of soy ingredients used in everyday food preparation.

URBANA - Some caution should be exercised in anticipating 2007 yields, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"In addition, any significant change in price relationships over the next four weeks, or unusual spring weather, could alter planting plans to some extent," said Darrel Good. "Ultimately, summer weather will be the dominant yield and price factor.

URBANA - Steve Hawthorne said he took "the backwards way" into strip-till.

His decision to go with strip-till seven years ago basically came down to field cultivation. With the bean stubble on top of the corn residue from the previous year, he said there "was just too much volume of trash to go through the field cultivator nicely."

So Hawthorne made the switch to strip-till and the result was an ideal seedbed. With strip-till, the crop is planted in a narrow strip, preserving most of the field's crop residue to protect the soil from erosion.

URBANA - When Jason Lay attended a conference last year with other Illinois farmers, he was amazed by the level of interest in strip-till, a system in which the crop is planted in a narrowly tilled strip and most crop residue is preserved to protect the soil from erosion.

"I personally talked with eight producers who had strip-till bars on order," said Lay, who farms 2,700 acres roughly three miles west of Normal. "Strip-till is a lot farther along than it was even two years ago. A lot of producers are strongly considering it and many are trying it."

URBANA - Developing a comprehensive manure management plan just got easier for livestock producers in Illinois. The Illinois Manure Management Plan is now available online at www.immp.uiuc.edu.

URBANA - Based on expected fall supplies of corn, widespread use of temporary storage facilities will be required again this year, but overall use will probably not be more extensive than in recent years, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"However, significant storage capacity issues could develop in areas that experience a large increase in corn production and limited expansion in storage capacity," said Darrel Good. "The report of planting intentions on March 30 may help identify those areas."

URBANA - One wonders which is the greater passion for Marty and Kris Travis -- restoring the original buildings dating back to 1830 on their Spence family farm or the actual farming -- which includes unusual products such as maple syrup and leeks. They have so much going on that Marty says "People think we never sleep and have found two extra days in the week, but we just go with the flow of the seasons."

URBANA - Wheat price volatility will likely continue due to the uncertainty about U.S. and world production of wheat and other crops, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"However, the longer term price trend may be lower as current high prices will likely lead to large crops and more abundant world stocks," said Darrel Good. "If so, pricing opportunities may be best early in the 2007-08 marketing year."

Editor: Marilyn Upah Bant (217/244-9273; upahbant@uiuc.edu

Urbana -- Researchers from several disciplines at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have begun to plan a new $20 million research facility dedicated to interdisciplinary bioenergy research.

Editor: Marilyn Upah Bant (217/244-9273; upahbant@uiuc.edu

Urbana -- Researchers from several disciplines at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have begun to plan a new $20 million research facility dedicated to interdisciplinary bioenergy research.

URBANA - Two upcoming USDA reports will set the state for prices during the spring months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The USDA's monthly update on world crop supply and demand prospects released on March 9 contained few changes from the February report," said Darrel Good. "The quarterly Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings reports will set the stage for prices during the spring months."

URBANA - Purebred dairy calves from five breeds will be on sale April 7 at the University of Illinois during the 59th Annual PDCA Calf Sale held on the Dairy Farm.

Calves will be available for purchase from the following breeds: Ayrshires, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorn, Jerseys, and Holsteins.

The catalog can be read online at http://www.ansci.uiuc.edu/news/eventDisplay?ContentID=9850 or http://www.holsteinworld.com .

URBANA--An emphasis on healthful foods in schools and institutional settings has brought increased attention to soy ingredients. A new cookbook entitled Soy on the Menu: Recipes for Food Service presents the many ways that soy can be used as a healthy and delicious ingredient in recipes designed for the foodservice industry.

URBANA - A pioneering companion animal scientist whose work more than half a century ago helped develop the Salk polio vaccine has died. James E. Corbin, a professor emeritus of animal sciences at the University of Illinois, died March 1.

URBANA -- University of Illinois Extension is offering tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at small farms and other unique operations around the state. This year's schedule of six sustainable agriculture tours represents some of the innovative practices and income-producing solutions being developed.

URBANA - Hog producers should start thinking through price risk management strategies, so they can be exercised quickly in the coming 60 to 90 days, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Some observers are now questioning the advisability of using Group Risk Income Plan (GRIP) crop insurance policies in 2007, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

GRIP is a crop insurance product that uses county yields in calculating revenue. It differs from other revenue products that use farm yields in calculating revenue.

"GRIP premiums will be much higher in 2007," said Gary Schnitkey. "A GRIP product that cost between $20 and $25 in 2006 will cost in the $40 to $45 range in 2007.

URBANA - A new University of Illinois Extension website will allow 4-H and FFA members wishing to exhibit at the 1007 Illinois State Fair to complete one requirement online. The Quality Assurance and Ethics Certification site (http://qaec.extension.uiuc.edu/) was developed with input from a committee of Extension and FFA personnel.

URBANA - A long history of University of Illinois Extension-provided assistance to local governments has moved into the computer age with the launching of the Local Government Information and Education Network (http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/lgien/).

"This website provides a variety of programs and materials for local government officials in Illinois, helping them to do their jobs better," said Jane Scherer, U of I Extension urban programs specialist who oversees Extension's websites.

URBANA - Why not plant all corn in 2007, asks a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Planting all corn in 2007 likely will be more profitable than planting soybeans on farms with high-productivity farmland," said Gary Schnitkey. "Revenue insurance at high coverage levels can be used to lock-in profits, thereby reducing risks from planting all corn."

URBANA - Even with a record level of consumption that may exceed current USDA projections, supplies of U.S. soybeans will be extremely large at the end of the current marketing year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"All of the recent strength in soybean prices is in anticipation of sharply lower production in 2007," said Darrel Good. "Unless the U.S. average yield falls below trend value, however, a shortage of soybeans will not likely occur until the 2008-09 marketing year."

URBANA - University of Illinois students will be harvesting and transporting "crops" with equipment that can steer itself this coming March 9 and 10 in the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building in Urbana. What's more, they will be performing these complex operations within a 12-foot by 8-foot space as part of the ExplorACES Open House.

How can they pull off such a technological trick?

With miniature equipment, to begin with.

URBANA - From producer to consumer and back again, the food chain winds its way from field to fork across America. But, connecting the product with the customer can be difficult, particularly for smaller operations that may not have the resources to do extensive marketing. The MarketMaker website is helping make those connections on a multi-state level.

URBANA - A unique opportunity for prospective students to learn about life in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) will be available March 9-10 at ExplorACES 2007.

URBANA - Strength of export demand for U.S. corn will be important as U.S. corn production struggles to keep up with domestic demand for ethanol production, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Softer export demand, along with a significant increase in U.S. corn production in 2007, would provide a little more breathing room in the tightening supply and demand balance sheet," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - While some attractive pricing opportunities exist for the 2007 soybean crop, a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist cautions that pricing that crop remains "a challenging balancing act."

"The ability of the soybean market to move to new highs in the face of negative old-crop fundamentals and the willingness to respond to concerns about the 2007 crop has resulted in some attractive pricing opportunities for the 2007 crop," said Darrel Good, who then noted the challenges facing pricing.

URBANA-A variety of "hot topics" for forage producers will be addressed at the annual Illinois Forage Institute on February 28 in Arthur. The program, held at Yoder's Kitchen, will starts at 10:00 am and conclude at 3:15 pm. Registration begins at 9:15 am.

"How Distillers Grains plus Solubles and Corn Gluten Feed Fit in Forage Rations" will be addressed by Larry Berger, ruminant nutritionist in the Department of Animal Sciences at University of Illinois. Berger will also share results of his research on "Edible Bunk Covers."

URBANA-Production management is the focus of the Alfalfa Production- Managing Challenges in 2007 teleconference hosted by University of Illinois Extension on February 26. The program runs from 9:30 am to 12:05 pm and will be presented via distance delivery to more than 35 University of Illinois Extension offices across the state. Registration begins at 9 am.

URBANA - Illinois farmers will get an opportunity to voice their opinion about their needs for law-related educational programming and legal services when they receive a four-page questionnaire that was mailed this week.

Although the recipients were randomly selected, the 3,000 who receive the questionnaire are representative of the entire population of farmers across the state of Illinois -- including variables such as the size of the farm, region of the state and type of operation.

URBANA - Eight scientists from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) have been selected to form the ACES Academy for Global Engagement class of 2007. The year-long program encourages global awakening in areas of education, research and outreach.

URBANA - In the next two years, the cattle industry will have to adjust production downward somewhat to push retail beef prices upward, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"In this manner, calf and feeder prices can eventually recover," said Chris Hurt.

Hurt's comments came as he reviewed the cattle industry outlook for 2007, the most prominent feature of which is the painful adjustment to much higher feed prices.

URBANA - Youth and adult students are eligible to attend the 2007 Sheep Shearing School sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. This year's program will be held April 6 and 7 at Western Illinois University's Livestock Pavilion at the Macomb campus.

"The school will be limited to 24 students," said Dick Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist. "Students should be over 15 and have enough size and strength to handle mature sheep. They should also have a sincere interest in sheep production and the chance to shear sheep after the school."

URBANA - Two annual sheep industry events will be held this year in conjunction with the Woodford County Barn Tour. Sheep Industry Day and the annual meeting of the Illinois Lamb and Wood Producers will be held March 3 on the Ulrich family farm near Eureka, which is part of the barn tour.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration and the farm tour starts at 9:15 a.m. The Ulrich family raises Suffolk sheep on the farm.

URBANA - The magnitude of U.S. planted acreage in 2007, and therefore production potential, is the biggest factor looming in both the corn and soybean markets, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The USDA will survey farmers in March and release a Prospective Plantings report on March 30. A large increase in corn acreage is anticipated due to high prices and a favorable price ratio relative to soybeans," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - A select group of internationally known speakers will share the latest information on dairy grazing in a teleconference series on four consecutive Fridays in March sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

The "Dairy Grazing Brown-Bagger Teleconference" is designed for dairy producers who have introduced grazing on their farms or are considering it, according to Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in East Peoria.

URBANA - A team of undergraduate students at the University of Illinois is designing an innovative filtration system that will efficiently reduce chemical leaching into waterways from agricultural fields. What's more, the U of I team is one of a select number of teams chosen from across the country to present their design this April before the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

URBANA - Speculation about the magnitude of the shift in soybean acreage to corn for 2007 will continue until the USDA releases its Prospective Plantings report on March 30, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"A large increase in corn acreage and a large decline in soybean acreage are anticipated in 2007," said Good.

URBANA--The Department of Crop Sciences in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been recognized as the third best agronomy and crop sciences program in the nation based on the scholarly productivity of its faculty, according to a new survey of top research universities in the U.S.

The 2005 survey was complied by Academic Analytics, a company owned partially by the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Each institution was ranked using the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, which provides an overall measure of faculty performance.

URBANA--Although soybean rust has caused little or no damage during the past two years, growers are advised to be on high alert during the coming season. One particular concern is a major change in the 2006 distribution of soybean rust and the over-wintering areas for the fungus that causes the disease, according to Glen Hartman, U.S. Department of Agriculture plant pathologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

URBANA - For now, expect corn and soybean prices to be well-supported until planting intentions are known, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Significant price volatility, particularly for corn, will be associated with the planting and growing season," said Darrel Good, reacting to USDA reports released on Jan. 12 which were generally supportive for corn and soybean prices.

URBANA - New construction of manure storage systems, as well as manure application and management, are just two highlights of the Livestock Manure Management Conference workshops sponsored by the University of Illinois and set for March in Effingham and Princeton, Illinois.

Much higher feed costs are likely to eliminate the profit potential for pork producers in 2007, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"After three years of favorable returns, 2007 is expected to be close to breakeven, with concerns that even higher feed prices could drive the industry into losses," said Chris Hurt.

URBANA - A series of workshops to help agricultural producers manage risk and make better financial decisions will be offered in February and March sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"These FAST Training Workshops offer two one-day sessions: Risk Management (day 1) and Financial Management (day 2)," said Paul Ellinger, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. "You can attend one or both days."

URBANA - Illinois agricultural producers faced with financial and management decisions can reach into a toolbox of 41 components, courtesy of the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and U of I Extension.

Farm Analysis Solution Tools (FAST) was developed in 1999 and encompasses a suite of comprehensive programs to help farmers make business decisions.

URBANA - An Illinois program that targets environmentally-sensitive crop land in the Illinois River basin needs some fundamental changes to effectively meet its goals, says a researcher in the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

"The Illinois Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was established to achieve numerically defined environmental benefits by restricting the definition of regions eligible for the program," explains Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics.

URBANA - Imagine presenting your class project to an audience of fellow students AND industry professionals. That's precisely the challenge for students in two University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics classes created and taught by Paul Ellinger.

The classes--Contemporary Issues in Agri-Accounting and Agri-Finance and Case Studies in Agri-Accounting and Agri-Finance--were conceived by Ellinger as opportunities to do a number of things.

URBANA - Five years from now, human testing might be underway on the fruits of a large-scale research project that includes the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences. In essence, the project seeks to grow new bone and other tissue in humans by using techniques perfected in swine.

URBANA - Eight seminars have been set this winter to help cow-calf producers utilize by-products from ethanol production, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA - If historical tends continue into 2007, farms in northern Illinois will increase corn acres more than central Illinois, and southern Illinois response will likely be weather driven, concludes a University of Illinois Extension study.

URBANA - Two beef sire selection and management seminars have been set for Feb. 1, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The most important decisions made each year in the cow-calf enterprise are the selection, health, and management of the herd sire," said Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in East Peoria. "Not only does the sire contribute 50 percent of the genetic make-up of the offspring, but he also can have a major impact on the calf crop from birth through harvest."

URBANA - Cattle feeders can keep abreast of industry changes to enhance their management and marketing practices by attending the 2007 Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short Course on January 22 and February 5, 2007, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Building.

NOTE TO EDITORS: This is the final Weekly Outlook of 2006. The next Outlook will be sent the week of January 8, 2007.

URBANA - Corn and soybean prices appear to have moved into a sideways-to-lower trend for now as little new fundamental information is flowing into the marketplace, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"That will change over the next few weeks as USDA reports are released and as the South American growing season progresses," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - University of Illinois Extension will host identical workshops at two locations on how to develop income-producing ventures for landowners with under-utilized acreage. "Putting Small Acreages to Work" will provide information for people interested in starting or expanding small scale farm enterprises.

The workshop will be offered in Quincy on Wednesday, February 7 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Adams/Brown extension office and on Saturday, February 10 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Extension Center in Springfield.

URBANA - Changes found in the USDA's latest world production and consumption forecast were generally expected, with no surprises observed, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Caution seems warranted in increasing cash rents for 2007, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Leases that allow rents to adjust or cash leases with short lease periods are appropriate in times of price uncertainty," said Gary Schnitkey. "Moreover, long-run increases in commodity prices do not automatically translate into farmers having long-run higher returns or risk reductions."

URBANA - A new website that seeks to provide research-based information and resources to assist individuals and organizations with agricultural safety issues has been launched by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA - Bringing sheep producers the latest important information is the purpose of University of Illinois Extension's 20th annual Shepherds' Clinic series, said Dick Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist.

The 2007 program will be held at 7 p.m. on the evenings of Jan. 8 and 22 and delivered by a teleconference system.

URBANA - There is no evidence yet that the higher prices of U.S. corn and soybeans have slowed the pace of export commitments, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Some of the large outstanding sales, however, may represent an accelerated pace of purchases as importers anticipated higher prices, or in the case of corn, reduced availability due to domestic ethanol use and a smaller-than-expected crop," said Darrel Good. "Until there is some evidence of reduced interest in U.S. crops, prices will likely remain well supported.

Urbana -- There is bad news and good news for soil erosion trends in Illinois.

The bad news is that the percentage of Illinois land with acceptable levels of soil erosion did not go up in 2006 and has been virtually unchanged since 1997. In 2006, 85.8 percent of the state’s cropland had acceptable levels of soil erosion.

The good news is that the vast majority of the remaining land with excessive erosion is very close to being brought in line, said Bob Frazee, University of Illinois Extension natural resources educator.

URBANA -- Conventional tillage is no longer so conventional.

For the first time ever, the percentage of cropland planted with no-till has surpassed conventional tillage in Illinois, according to the 2006 Soil Erosion and Crop Tillage Survey.

No-till rose to 33.1 percent of all Illinois land planted with corn, soybeans, and small grains, while conventional tillage dropped to 31.2 percent, said Alan Gulso of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

URBANA - The University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences and a leading Illinois swine management business are creating a new master's degree program in the U of I College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The degree--The Maschhoffs Inc.-sponsored Master of Science in Animal Sciences-Swine Production Management--is designed for high-caliber students with a B.S. degree in Animal Sciences or an associated discipline.

Everyone recognizes that the high feed price event facing the hog industry is different than previous ones, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Yields for the 2006 crop were average, and high prices are being driven by potentially vast new demands for energy from crops," said Chris Hurt. "Short production years tend to have peak prices for that year and then return closer to 'normal' prices when the next crop replenishes supply.

URBANA - A number of factors indicate that corn prices will remain high, although potentially volatile, through the winter months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The spring and summer of 2007 could bring more than the usual amount of price volatility as planting intentions are revealed and growing conditions unfold," said Darrel Good. "Production problems and higher prices would spur the debate about the subsidies provided for biofuels."

Good's comments came as he reviewed the changing structure of corn prices.

URBANA - Genetically modified crops and new information technologies will be central to meeting the food demands of a rapidly growing world population sustainably, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist in a recent article in the Harvard International Review.

"Humanity has made big strides in feeding a rapidly growing population. However, it is unacceptable to have 800 million hungry people in the world," said Gerald Nelson, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Editor's Note: Photographs of the researchers are available. Please contact me at rsampson@uiuc.edu to obtain an e-mail version. Bob Sampson

URBANA - Understanding and treatment of human ovarian cancer, known as the silent killer, may be a step closer thanks to some chickens at the University of Illinois. Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in women and unlike other cancers, its rate of mortality has not been reduced.

URBANA-The University of Illinois' 2007 Crop Protection Technology Conference is scheduled for Wednesday, January 3 and Thursday, January 4, 2007, at the Illini Union on the U of I campus.

Along with updates on the latest developments in crop protection, the program will feature an opening session with a review of the 2006 growing season and a look ahead to next year's season.

URBANA - A change to the trend of higher corn prices would not be expected until there is some evidence of a slowdown in consumption, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Soybean prices will likely continue to follow corn prices," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - Global warming strikes again. A University of Illinois researcher reports that a red-winged black bird population in Ontario, Canada has decreased by 50 percent since 1972. The decrease is related to a positive shift in the North Atlantic Oscillation which has resulted in warmer, wetter winters in the southeastern United States.

URBANA -- The Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) program will mark the 10th anniversary of the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act with a series of workshops from January through March to help producers comply with the Act and other environmental regulations.

URBANA - "Getting It Right" will be on the agenda for dairy producers attending the 2007 Illinois Dairy Days program at nine locations in January. The long-running, annual program is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"To help producers made the correct management decisions, we've developed a series of one-day meetings," said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist. "These meetings are designed to help producers make the most of their resources and remain a productive part of the dairy industry.

Corn usage and production mismatch will play out in a classic supply and demand interaction in 2007, with higher corn prices likely to reduce livestock production usage.

The USDA projects the consumption of U.S. corn at 11.89 billion bushels for the current marketing year, 624 million above the record consumption of last year. However, if the U.S. crop comes in significantly smaller than the current forecast of 10.905 billion bushels, consumers of corn will have to adjust.

URBANA - Changes in relative prices have caused corn and wheat to project higher relative returns in 2007 compared to soybeans, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"Some farms may wish to consider switching acreages away from soybeans and more into corn," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who prepared the study with Extension colleague Dale Lattz.

URBANA - A constellation of significant challenges to the agricultural sector will be the focus of Farm Income 2007, a workshop to be held in five locations sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The workshops address decision-making challenges in a risky environment," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension marketing specialist. "The program is designed for farm operators and owners, agricultural lenders, and managers of farm-related businesses."

URBANA - With such large speculative interest and a changing demand climate, a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist said it is difficult to gauge the potential strength in the soybean market.

"It appears that the November 2006 futures price may at least re-test the contract high," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed the soybean market.

"Soaring corn and wheat prices have been the center of attention in recent weeks," he said. "Now, the soybean market appears to be playing catch-up."

Editor's note: A high resolution, downloadable digital photo is available for publication with this article at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/academy/

URBANA - Seven scientists were selected to participate in a year-long global awareness program which would end with an international immersion trip to Mexico. They're back and believe the culminating trip is just the beginning of their international journey.

URBANA - The era of cheap feed for cattle is probably over for years to come, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Over the past eight crop years from 1998 to 2005, U.S. corn prices averaged just $2.05 per bushel," said Chris Hurt. "Historically, the cattle industry has been the animal segment that makes the biggest adjustments to high-priced feed and that will likely be the case this time as well.

URBANA - Seven students from the University of Illinois spent a good portion of their summer vacation in Africa, working on ways to produce biodiesel, measure tractor torque and break the world record speed for a pedal-driven watercraft.

URBANA - Wheat, corn, and soybean prices, which have moved higher since mid-September, have implications for the production plans of farmers and perhaps for farm policy, said a University of Illinois marketing specialist.

"One of the questions generated by high prices is: How will U.S. and world producers respond? A second question is: How will Congress respond?" said Darrel Good.

URBANA--The announcement by the Illinois Department of Agriculture that the presence of Asian soybean rust has been detected for the first time in Illinois is no cause for major concern, according to experts from University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA -- Putting bio-fuels such as miscanthus to use in a small-scale application furnace is one of the topics that will be featured at the upcoming Dudley Smith Day. The event will be held on Friday, November 10 from 9:00 a.m. to noon followed by a lunch at the University of Illinois Extension Christian County Unit Office.

URBANA - A solar-powered robot with 20/20 vision, on a search-and-destroy quest for weeds, will soon be moving up and down the crop rows at the experimental fields at the University of Illinois. What's more, this robot has the potential to control weeds while significantly reducing herbicide use.

The robot uses GPS for navigation, and there are two small cameras mounted on a frame on top of the machine to give the robot depth perception, just like a human, said Lei Tian, agricultural engineer at the U of I. "If he sees a weed, he can actually tell how far away it is."

URBANA - Typically, the USDA's October production forecast would be the dominant price factor during the harvest season and into the winter months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"That may not be the case this year as demand considerations have become extremely important," said Darrel Good. "Even with expectations of a large corn crop, for example, December 2006 corn futures have rallied from the contract low of $2.33 1/2 reached following the August production forecast to settle at $2.71 on Oct. 6 and trade above $2.80 on Oct. 9.

URBANA-Any positives for pork producers from higher corn prices will be more than offset by negative consequences, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The pork industry's concerns about higher corn prices from the extraordinary growth in corn demand for ethanol appears to be moving from speculation to reality," said Chris Hurt. "Higher corn prices are expected to have at least two impacts in the coming year.

URBANA - Farm operators can now calculate their estimated machinery costs for 2006 as a result of a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"Machinery Cost Estimates for 2006" was prepared by Gary Schnitkey and Dale Lattz, U of I Extension specialists in farm financial management. The report is available on Extension's farmdoc website.

URBANA - Recent price behavior in the corn market has provided less incentive to store the early harvested 2006 crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"On the cost side, commercial storage rates have increased in many areas for the first time in a number of years to finally acknowledge the increasing costs of building and owning storage facilities," said Darrel Good. "Commercial storage rates may exceed the current carry in the market so that forward-pricing corn stored commercially for later delivery is not profitable.

URBANA - The generally high level of 2007 crop wheat futures suggests that wheat producers may be motivated to increase acreage this year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Cash bids for harvest delivery of soft red winter wheat, however, reflect a very weak basis and lower cash prices than historically implied by futures prices at current levels," said Darrel Good. "Will soft red winter wheat producers increase acreage in response to relatively high futures prices? Or, will acreage be limited by relatively low cash bids for the new crop?

URBANA - An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but what keeps the doctor away from the apple? And when that apple is infected with apple scab, the prognosis is grim for the entire tree.

Enter Juliet! -- an apple that showed so much potential that a French company created a cartoon character and advertising campaign to market it in Europe.

URBANA-Plant breeding scientists from around world recently gathered in Mexico City for the First International Plant Breeding Symposium honoring John W. Dudley, emeritus professor of plant genetics at the University of Illinois.

The sessions assessed the state of the science of plant breeding and examined the future prospects for the field. The event was organized by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Iowa State University, Monsanto, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

URBANA -- Representatives from the National Taiwan University (NTU) visited the campus in early September to explore teaching and research collaboration opportunities with the University of Illinois.

URBANA - The University of Illinois is once again being recognized as number one in the nation - this time in the field of agricultural and biological engineering. The undergraduate program in agricultural and biological engineering (ABE) has been ranked the best in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

The 2007 edition of "America's Best Colleges," published each year by U.S. News and World Report, placed Illinois in the top spot, followed by Texas A&M and the University of California Davis.

URBANA - With both the corn and soybean futures market currently reflecting fundamental value, price reaction to the September USDA reports may be small, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The market will now wait for the October report to confirm crop size," said Darrel Good. "Over the past 36 years, there has been a tendency for the corn production forecast to increase in October following an increase in September. There is a similar, but smaller, tendency for the soybean production forecast.

URBANA -- The University of Illinois sustainable agriculture program in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science and U of I Extension are planning the third statewide conference on organic production and marketing. The conference is scheduled for December 6 and 7 at The Interstate Center in Bloomington, Illinois.

URBANA - An Egyptian university will begin building an agricultural library with 15,000 pounds of books and journals shipped from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, courtesy of a joint U of I-Purdue University project.

URBANA - Research under way in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences has developed methods for allowing the same field of corn to be used for the production of livestock feed and ethanol.

"The fundamentals of what we need to do are well known," explained Larry Berger, professor of animal nutrition who heads the effort, "now we are seeking to make greater improvements in the process over the next couple of years and move toward a final answer that can be used by corn growers and livestock producers."

URBANA - While major strides have been made in feeding a rapidly growing world population, it is unacceptable to still have 800 million hungry people in the world, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist in a recent article in the Harvard International Review.

URBANA - The soybean market apparently expects a larger production forecast on Sept. 12, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Soybean prices declined sharply following the USDA's Aug. 11 Crop Production report, even though the soybean production forecast was nearly 100 million bushels less than expected," said Darrel Good. "The decline, at least in part, reflects expectations of a larger production forecast on Sept. 12."

URBANA - As wet corn distillers grain continues to be available and economical as a source of dairy feed in Illinois, producers may want to consider some guidelines for using it in conjunction with corn stalks, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Each feed is a complement to the other in terms of balancing nutrients," said Mike Hutjens. "For example, distillers grains are high in protein, fat, energy content, and phosphorous. Corn stalks are high in fiber and low in phosphorous and crude protein."

URBANA - As hog prices have considerably outperformed expectations this summer, many wonder why producers have not yet expanded, said a Purdue University Extension swine specialist.

"The pork production industry has been profitable since the spring of 2004," said Chris Hurt. "Producers, however, relate their concerns about large market uncertainties and the high cost of buildings as two important reasons for not expanding.

"In addition, uncertainty over rising corn prices with booming ethanol use has left many producers extremely cautious."

URBANA - The ever-increasing cost of natural gas (and commercial fertilizer) is making manure look more attractive to farmers every day.

Extension specialists across the Midwest are encouraging crop producers to consider manure as a viable alternative to commercial fertilizer, said Ted Funk, agricultural engineer and Extension specialist at the University of Illinois.

Although the use of manure is not without its challenges, said Funk, manure is a valuable resource and needs to be treated as such during land application.

Editor's note: High resolution, downloadable digital photos with caption suggestions are available for publication with this article at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/Goats/

URBANA -- If you're baffled by the myriad of environmental regulations that pertain to agricultural and horticultural operations, help is only a mouse-click away. EZregs, a new website hosted by University of Illinois Extension, can help farm producers, green industry professionals, land use planners and others make sense of environmental regulations in Illinois.

The website can be found at: www.ezregs.uiuc.edu.

URBANA - In 2006, Illinois farm real estate enjoyed its best year on record with the per-acre average at $3,800, said a University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist.

"This figure was 14.1 percent higher than the revised 2005 average of $3,330 per acre," said Dale Lattz. "The 2005 revised figure was 27.6 percent higher than 2004 and was the highest increase since a 37.3 percent increase in 1977.

"The 2006 percent increase was the second highest since 1979."

URBANA - Some Illinois farmers may find switching to more corn profitable in 2007, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"Given a $6 per bushel soybean price and soybean yields above 45 bushels per acre, breakeven corn prices range from slightly above $3 for relatively low corn yields to about $2.50 for relatively high corn yields," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who co-authored the study with Darrel Good, U of I Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Necessary incentives leading producers to increase corn acreage in 2007 are likely to be provided by the market, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"If a train wreck is anticipated far enough in advance, it can be avoided," said Darrel Good, responding to those who have argued that extremely high prices for corn will be required to get the necessary increase in corn acreage next year, resulting in a train wreck involving shortages of corn and record high prices.

Good's comments came as he reviewed recent corn prices.

URBANA-Weed scientists in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois have recently published the results from a study on a unique population of waterhemp that shows resistance to three classes of herbicides once effective for management of waterhemp in corn and soybean fields.

URBANA - Great Boars of Fire, Blue Sky Winery, and Darn Hot Peppers all have catchy, unique names -- but their names are just one aspect of their many creative marketing strategies. All three are examples of agritourism enterprises in southern Illinois and have been selected for the final tour this year sponsored by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program. The tour will take place on Thursday, October 5.

URBANA-Prices of corn and soybeans declined sharply following the USDA's August 11 Crop Production report as speculators apparently liquidated long positions when the report showed larger corn production prospects and smaller soybean production prospects than had been expected, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Improved understanding of the latest in beef reproduction programs and technologies is the focus of a symposium to be held Aug. 30-31 at Stoney Creek Inn in St. Joseph, Missouri sponsored by the Beef Reproduction Task Force.

"The symposium is designed for veterinarians, producers, and livestock educators who want to improve their understanding of the currently available procedures and technologies in artificial insemination," said Darrel Kesler, a professor in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences.

URBANA - Better genetics and farming practices may be responsible for the lack of severe corn yield losses in recent years, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"It also may be that weather conditions that resulted in the worst yields in recent history--1983 and 1988--have not re-occurred," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist, who wrote the report "Has Variability in Corn Yields Been Reduced?"

URBANA-The Department of Crop Sciences and University of Illinois Extension will hold a field day at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2006 at the Orr Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center. The Center is located in northeastern Pike County, on Route 104 about four miles west of the junction with Route 107, or about midway between Jacksonville and Quincy.

URBANA - As the markets await the Aug. 11 release of the USDA's first corn and soybean yield and production forecast for the 2006 crops based on survey and field observation data, the soybean situation is more complicated, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Unless the U.S. average yield falls well below trend, surpluses will continue, assuming a normal South American growing season," said Darrel Good. "Potential for much higher prices may be less than for corn.

URBANA - Classes in dairy management and reproduction will be offered by the University of Illinois next month, said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

"Advanced Dairy Management begins Sept. 25," he said. "It covers calf and heifer management, pasture systems, health, economics and business structures, genetics, and facilities."

The course will be taught by Hutjens and five other faculty members.

URBANA - Farmers, home gardeners, and people needing information on money management or community development now have an enhanced outlet open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a revised University of Illinois Extension website. PubsPlus can be found at: http://pubsplus.uiuc.edu .

URBANA - Prices for corn and soybeans continue to reflect weather and crop conditions, a situation which will persist for the next six to eight weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Price direction will also be provided by USDA reports to be released on Aug.11," added Darrel Good.

Good noted that corn and soybean crop-condition ratings declined each week for the four weeks ending on July 23. As of that date, 59 percent of the corn crop was rated in good or excellent condition, compared to 53 percent on the same date last year.

URBANA - Recent storms that swept through southern Illinois left heavy wind damage in many corn fields, leaving producers in a quandary about what to do with the downed corn, said a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator.

"Can this damaged corn be salvaged for corn silage?" is being asked of Dave Fischer, who is based in Edwardsville.

"The answer to this question depends on the plant moisture, maturity at the time of wind damage, stalk integrity, and the weather conditions that followed the damage," he said.

URBANA - What appears from the outside as a whirlwind adventure, is actually a well-planned fruit and cheese operation that is both agriculturally and economically sustainable. Prairie Fruits Farm (www.prairiefruits.com) is owned by Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell. In just three years, they are well on their way to a sustainable fruit and goat cheese business. In 2003 they moved from Madison, Wisconsin to a farm in the Champaign-Urbana area.

URBANA - Cattle producers are continuing a slow expansion of brood cow numbers, but rapid movement of calves into feedlots due to depleted pastures means lower finished cattle prices are likely, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Late 2006 and early 2007 remain a vulnerable period for the cattle industry as higher beef supplies are interfacing with delays in restoring beef exports to Asia," said Chris Hurt. "Slowing U.S. economic growth in the face of rising energy costs may also reduce beef expenditures."

URBANA - Public conservation areas in Illinois appear to discourage private conservation efforts in adjacent areas, according to a research project involving a University of Illinois environmental economist.

URBANA - With declining crop condition ratings, large areas of moisture deficits, and a period of high temperatures, corn and soybean prices appear to be building in the probability of average yields falling below trend value, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - "Keep It In the Root Zone" is the theme for the 2006 Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo, to be held in St. Johns, Michigan on July 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The expo will feature innovative and practical manure application strategies that place and keep manure in the root zone, where it most benefits growing crops. These strategies include everything from advanced manure treatment systems at the livestock facility to manure application equipment and systems.

URBANA - Rising grain production costs are attributable to much more than what goes in the tractor's gas tank, said a University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist.

"Of the $50 increase in per acre costs between 2003 and 2005, less than half are directly attributable to rising energy prices," said Gary Schnitkey, who co-authored the study with Extension colleague Dale Lattz.

URBANA–Tuesday, August 22 has been set as the date for the 2006 Field Day at the University of Illinois' Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth. Tours of research plots will begin at 8:00 a.m. The last tour will depart at 9:00 a.m., and each tour will take about two hours to complete.

URBANA - The Green Earth Institute in Naperville is sometimes referred to as "a vegetable farm in the suburbs." It's the location of the fourth tour sponsored by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP). The program promotes research and provides outreach opportunities of a wide spectrum of alternative farming practices as well as ways to provide an adequate and dependable farm income.

URBANA--Agronomy Day 2006 at the University of Illinois is scheduled for Thursday, August 17. Besides tours and tent displays highlighting the latest developments in agricultural research, this year's event will feature ceremonies celebrating the 50th anniversary of Agronomy Day.

URBANA -Modest profits are expected for pork producers through the first half of 2007, but those hopes are threatened by the potential for higher corn prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - While the USDA's June Acreage and Grain Stocks reports provided few surprises for the crop markets, persistence of heat and dryness in some areas have increased crop concerns, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Corn and soybean prices moved higher following the reports," said Darrel Good. "The focus in the crop markets will now be almost entirely on weather and crop conditions. Some deterioration in conditions is expected, likely beginning this week."

Urbana - Increasing use of farm irrigation systems means irrigation electrical hazards are a growing problem in many regions of the country. Safe Electricity urges workers to know and follow proper safety precautions to avoid electrical injuries when operating and handling watering systems. Remind children not to play with irrigation pipes, or lift and stand them on end to retrieve materials in them.

URBANA - Although it may be overshadowed by the Acreage report, the upcoming USDA quarterly Grain Stocks report will provide an important checkpoint for gauging prospective year-end stocks of corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

The report, to be released on June 30, will show the level of inventory on June 1, said Darrel Good.

URBANA - Beyond the more-important-than-normal USDA Acreage report due June 30, the crop markets will be mostly influenced by weather and yield prospects, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The current weather pattern and short-term forecasts are not ideal, but generally support prospects for at least trend yields in 2006," said Darrel Good.

Good said that the upcoming USDA report "has more than the normal amount of importance for the crop markets."

URBANA - A new University of Illinois Extension swine specialist is on the job and seeking input from the state's diverse pork producers on their needs. Hans Stein, formerly an associate professor at South Dakota State University, joined the U of I Department of Animal Sciences faculty on June 15, 2006.

A native of Denmark, Stein earned his Ph.D. in nutrition at the U of I in 1998 and served as a manager and consultant in the Danish pork industry prior to joining the South Dakota State University faculty in 2000.

URBANA-A novel approach to testing promising technologies for the reduction of objectionable emissions from swine production facilities is being launched by the University of Illinois with support from the Illinois Attorney General's office.

URBANA-Thursday, August 17 has been set as the date for Agronomy Day 2006 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "50 Years of Progress"

This 50th consecutive Agronomy Day is a partnership among several academic units in the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The event features four tours on the latest developments in agricultural research, as well as numerous tent displays.

URBANA-All indications are that price volatility for corn, soybeans and wheat will continue to be the norm, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Corn, soybean, and wheat prices have traded in a wide range since March," noted Darrel Good.

URBANA-Producing corn and soybeans in Illinois in 2005 cost more than in 2004, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"Total costs to produce corn for all combined areas of the state were $458 per acre in 2005, an 8 percent increase over the year before," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist, who prepared the study. "Total cost per acre to produce soybeans increased, from $333 per acre in 2004 to $351 per acre in 2005."

URBANA-Two unrelated issues are impacting cash corn and soybean prices in opposite directions, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"These issues are some concerns about adverse weather and generally weak basis levels," said Darrel Good.

"While the growing season has started without widespread problems, concern centers on prospects for hot and dry weather in western growing areas this week. The generally weak basis can be mostly explained by cost increases and demand for storage, but other factors may be at play as well."

URBANA - Farmers could one day see an increase in yield in their corn crops, thanks to the work of undergraduate engineering students at the University of Illinois.

To reduce the row spacing on John Deere corn heads, a team of students reduced the size of the slip-clutches installed for every row. With a clutch of a shorter dimension, the number of rows per head width could be increased, which in turn would increase yield.

URBANA-The declining rate of domestic soybean meal consumption in the face of increasing livestock production is a concern, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA-Farm program payments may be affected by the type of farm lease used by the enterprise and mistakes could lead to ineligibility for payments, said a University of Illinois Extension agricultural law specialist.

"Whether a farm lease meets the technical definition of a 'cash' lease or a 'share' lease under federal regulations determines whether the farm operator, alone, or both the operator and the landlord is to receive certain USDA farm program payments," explained Donald L. Uchtmann.

Urbana - Everything from the economics of GPS to handheld technology and the management of yield data will be covered at "GPS in Agriculture--Guiding You to the Future," a day-long conference set for June 23 at the Interstate Center in Bloomington, Illinois.

URBANA--The average Illinois farmer earned less in 2005 than the year before and slightly below the average he or she had made in the past five years, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"Average farm operator returns for labor and management in 2005 were lower for all geographic areas of the state," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist who conducted the study based on data from the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) Association records.

URBANA-The greatest fear for livestock producers is that energy prices remain high in coming years, and then a short corn crop occurs in 2007 or 2008, resulting in the need to drastically ration corn usage for feed, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The corn surplus will be gone with the 2006 crop, as expected total corn use may exceed production by about one billion bushels," said Chris Hurt. "Thus, the supply crunch year appears to be the 2007-08 marketing year.

URBANA-The year ahead may not be kind to Illinois dairy managers, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Milk prices have dropped from profitable levels of nearly $14.50 per hundredweight down to a predicted average of $11.50," said Mike Hutjens. "For the average Illinois dairy manager, the breakeven price is near $13 per hundredweight."

Hutjens' comments came as he reviewed the state's dairy industry on the verge of June Dairy Month.

The 30 percent drop in milk price has a number of causes, he noted.

URBANA-It is a different world that confronts the U.S. dairy industry than that of 70 years ago when June Dairy Month was established, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Seventy years ago, milk production exceeded consumption and most dairy cows consumed lush pastures," said Mike Hutjens. "Today, milk production continues to surpass consumption and June Dairy Month challenges people to drink more milk and consume more dairy products."

The impact on the average consumer, based on the latest data (2004), reveals:

URBANA-The current situation suggests to some that corn, soybean, and wheat prices may be moving to a new plateau (in nominal terms) similar to the shift that took place in 1973, as the higher prices appear to be generated by strong demand and a higher cost structure, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - The Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois is hosting a tour to AquaRanch Industries in Flanagan on Wednesday, July 12. AquaRanch Industries (www.aquaranch.com) supplies tanks and tank/pool liners for the growing aquaculture industry, and helps develop "aquaponics" systems that yield both fish and culinary herbs in a controlled environment.

URBANA - Like a team of seven astronauts being launched into space, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) has selected seven scientists, one from each of the seven departments in the College, to participate in a year long program of global awakening at the college, campus, and national levels, culminating in an international immersion trip. They are the first "class" of the newly created Aces Global Academy.

URBANA - Five enthusiastic female food science and plant science professors and technologists from the Latvia University of Agriculture spent a month on the University of Illinois campus in order to learn modern biotechnology techniques. "I extracted DNA using my own two hands!" said Daina Karlina, one of the Latvians about her experience in Torbert Rocheford's lab at the U of I.

URBANA-Tee time is 12:30 p.m., June 9 for the Third Annual Illini Dairy Classic golf outing at the University of Illinois Blue Course at Savoy.

"All alumni of both the Illini Dairy Judging Team and the Illini Dairy Club, along with members of the Illinois dairy industry and their families and friends, are invited to participate," said Gene McCoy, who coaches the Illini Dairy Judging Team.

A barbecue will be held following the outing at 5:30 p.m. in the golf course pavilion.

URBANA-Given the growing demand for U.S. corn and declining acreage in 2006, corn prices will likely remain relatively high, but volatile, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"It would be surprising, particularly in light of historical price patterns, if prices do not establish new highs for the 2005-06 marketing year, even if that is just a growing season spike," said Darrel Good.

The University of Illinois College of ACES now has a built in RSS feed so you can get daily news feeds without cluttering your e-mail inbox.

The first thing you need is something called a news reader -- a piece of software that checks RSS feeds. There are many different types of RSS readers. Browser-based readers let you catch up with your RSS feeds from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store RSS feed on your computer in the same way that you download e-mail.

URBANA-Current futures prices are forecasting much higher farm prices for the 2006-07 marketing year than will likely be forecasted by the USDA next week, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"With December 2006 corn futures trading near $2.73, and higher prices for later delivery, the futures market reflects a 2006-07 average farm price near $2.65," said Darrel Good. "November soybean futures near $6.25, along with a positive carry in the price structure, reflect a 2006-07 average farm price near $6.15."

URBANA-Strip-till and no-till tillage systems have lower fuel use and lower costs than typical-till and heavy-till systems, according to a University of Illinois Extension report.

"Tillage adds about $9.50 in costs per acre and between one and two gallons of fuel use," said Gary Schnitkey, a U of I Extension farm financial management specialist, who co-authored the report with colleague Dale Lattz. "The economic advisability of adopting these reduced tillage systems depends on whether yield losses occur or pesticide costs are increased with their adoption."

URBANA-University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Department of Agriculture are collaborating on a new project that will improve the ability to rapidly diagnose Asian soybean rust and other plant diseases in Illinois. Although Illinois growers escaped any serious problems from Asian soybean rust during 2005, the disease remains a major cause for concern during the upcoming growing season.

URBANA-Achievements by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) faculty, staff, and alumni were honored April 25 at the annual Paul A. Funk Awards Recognition Banquet.

Winning the Paul A. Funk Award were Jeffrey O. Dawson of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and Darrel J. Kesler and Floyd K. McKeith, both of the Department of Animal Sciences. George C. Fahey Jr., also of the Department of Animal Sciences, received the Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award.

Leading experts in the dairy industry are joining forces to present the 2006 Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference on June 14 and 15 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

"This seminar is designed to provide dairy producers and industry personnel with current information on managing hoof care, dairy nutrition and immunity, feeding for milk components and other hot topics," said Dave Fischer, University of Illinois Extension dairy educator.

URBANA - When Stephen Long talks about using miscanthus (a grass that grows to about 14 feet high by late September) as a biomass energy source to produce Ethanol, he likes to stress the word, "potential." Long and his graduate student Emily Heaton have been studying this enormous grass since 2002 at the University of Illinois.

URBANA--Meat supplies will remain large for the remainder of the year, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Beef production is expected to be up about 5 percent for the rest of 2006, while pork production may rise by 3 percent and broiler production by 2 percent," said Chris Hurt. "These supply pressures are expected to keep finished steer prices about $5 per hundredweight lower than during the same period last year."

URBANA-Growers in Illinois suffer more than $250 million in yield losses every year due to soybean cyst nematodes (SCN), according to a recent survey conducted by researchers from the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

The survey found SCN present in nearly 85 percent of the fields in the state. Almost half of the fields in Illinois showed levels that exceeded the threshold for measurable economic damage. Primary funding for the survey was provided by the Illinois Soybean Association.

URBANA - On June 5 there will be a tour to Heartland Meats (www.heartlandmeats.com) in Mendota -- a farm and business that specializes in beef that is free of added growth hormones. The tour is hosted by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program.

URBANA-Sweeping every division in the contest, the University of Illinois Meat Evaluation Team won the national championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma, competing against 14 other universities.

"U of I students have competed in all 43 of these national contests, winning 21 times, but this was the first time one school won every division, including the communications division," said Doug Parrett, U of I Extension beef specialist, one of the team's coaches along with Tom Carr, U of I Extension meat specialist, and Shane Bedwell.

URBANA-A recent University of Illinois Extension study supports the view that grain markets are efficient with respect to the types of marketing strategies available to farmers, said one of its authors.

"This is contrary to the view that the markets are inefficient and provides substantial opportunities for farmers to gain additional profits through marketing," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension marketing specialist, who co-authored the study with his colleague in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Scott Irwin.

URBANA - At last week's Conference on Sustainable Bioenergy at the University of Illinois, U of I professor Hans Blaschek was able to report significant advances in his butanol research, welcome news to attendees who had paid $3.08 a gallon to fill up their gas tanks in Chicago that morning.

Blaschek, a U of I professor of food microbiology, has been using his patented, genetically modified organism Clostridium beijerinkii to convert corn into butanol, a promising alternative to petroleum-based fuels, since the 1990s.

URBANA-Federal and state tax subsidies for ethanol production may not necessarily be bad but they do need a new rationale, conclude two University of Illinois agricultural economists.

"Rather than saying ethanol production creates jobs or lowers the price of gas, ethanol proponents will need to justify the subsidies along the lines of national defense or creating a lower-cost industry for the future," said David Bullock, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

URBANA-Genomics has a strong role to play in the production of biofuels, energy sources that are renewable and produced in farm fields, said a University of Illinois professor in the Institute for Genomic Biology. Bryan White explained how genomics relates to this process during remarks last week at Sustainable Bioenergy: Focus on the Future of Biofuels and Chemicals held on the U of I campus.

URBANA-Models that replicate the food system from farm to fork can offer valuable insights to avoid food contamination and ensure food security, said a University of Illinois researcher who is developing them.

"By using a system-wide view, these models can yield important insights," said Paul McNamara, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and a U of I Extension family and consumer economics specialist.

URBANA-The rapid turnaround in soybean prices last week will result in a changing message to soybean producers relative to planted acreage in 2006, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Even though corn prices remain well supported just below the contract high of $2.75, rising soybean prices will tend to reinforce producer decisions to increase acreage in 2006," said Darrel Good. "As corn planting continues to be interrupted by rain events, there may also be less incentive to increase corn acreage.

URBANA-Learning how to deal with and, perhaps, avoid risk situations that impact both consumers and the agricultural industry is the focus of ongoing research in the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Led by Joost Pennings, an associate professor of agricultural and consumer economics, a team of researchers is developing economic models that reveal how consumers react in crisis situations.

URBANA-Hog prices have lost their luster, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"After higher-than-expected prices in 2004 and 2005, prices so far this year have been disappointing given only small increases in supply," said Chris Hurt. "While pork supplies will only be up 2 percent in 2006, prices are expected to be down about 13 percent."

A comparison of prices in the first quarter this year with prices in the first quarter 2005 will make the point, Hurt added.

URBANA-With ethanol production expanding in the United States, it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of the corn crop will go for that use, taking a share of the market now earmarked for cattle feed. An ongoing University of Illinois research project, however, is finding ways to make that development a winner for farmers, ethanol producers, and cattlemen.

URBANA-Intentions of farmers to plant more soybeans and less corn in 2006 means that relative prices between corn and soybeans have changed, with the change favoring corn production, according to a University of Illinois Extension report.

URBANA-How the World Trade Organization relates to U.S. farm policy and producers in Illinois is the focus of a new feature on University of Illinois Extension's farmdoc Website.

URBANA-A one-day Swine Production Conference in Spanish has been set for May 3 at the DeKalb County Center for Agriculture building in Sycamore, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"The program is intended for the Hispanic work force and those with Spanish-speaking employees involved or interested in the area of pork production," explained Rob Knox, U of I Extension swine reproduction specialist.

URBANA-Losses of pigs in transport to market can be cut by as much as one-half, according to ongoing research at the University of Illinois.

"The average rate of loss of pigs during the trip to market averages about 1 percent," said Mike Ellis, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. "In some of our research studies, we have observed losses as low as 0.3 percent."

URBANA-Four Illinois sheep associations have joined together to sponsor a Junior Preview Show on June 10 in Eureka, said Dick Cobb, University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist.

"This will be a fun, family-oriented, and educational show with small entry fees and great prizes and awards for all participants," said Cobb. "A Sheep Challenge Course will be available for juniors--those under 21--to compete in as well. Also, a practice Superior Young Sheep Producers contest will be held to help familiarize the juniors with the contest held at the State Fair each year."

URBANA-It appears that the markets made a mistake by encouraging a planned shift from corn to soybean acreage in the United States in 2006, particularly the magnitude of the shift currently planned, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The market must now try to quickly remedy that mistake by encouraging producers to moderate the shift," said Darrel Good. "Prices certainly moved in that direction after the USDA's Prospective Plantings report was issued.

URBANA--A pilot project at the University of Illinois that could create world-wide opportunities for Illinois swine semen producers recently received $69,500 in funding from the Illinois Department of Agriculture's AgriFIRST grant program, which is part of the Governor's Opportunity Returns Initiative.

URBANA-"Steaming-up" dairy cows during their dry period by increasing grain intake has become the dominant practice for producers over the last 15 years; however, University of Illinois research indicates it is not only misguided but potentially detrimental to the animal's health.

URBANA-Reduced plantings and rapidly increasing consumption of corn will magnify the importance of the 2006 growing season, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"With consumption having the potential to balloon to 11.5 billion bushels in 2006-07, a crop of at least 10.4 billion bushels is needed to maintain an ending stocks-to-use ratio of 10 percent," said Darrel Good. "A U.S. average yield near 142 bushels per acre would be required under the scenario of reduced acreage and increased consumption.

URBANA--The Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois has scheduled several events to help celebrate National Soy Foods Month this April. A free cooking demonstration and taste test to help consumers become familiar with tofu, soy flour, soy milk, and textured vegetable protein (TVP) will be held on Saturday, April 22, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the test kitchen at the National Soybean Research Center in Urbana.

URBANA - Herb Lange, a dairy farmer in Washington County, lost his leg below the knee as a young man, and battled an ill-fitting, heavy prosthesis for many years. When his insurance company told him they would do no more, Lange contacted AgrAbility Unlimited, a joint program of University of Illinois Extension and Easter Seals of Central Illinois.

AgrAbility assessed Lange's situation, and now, with the assistance of the state's Office of Rehabilitation Services, he has a new utility vehicle and a new, light-weight prosthesis.

URBANA-Fifty-one dairy calves will be available in the 58th annual PDCA Calf Sale April 1 at the University of Illinois. The sale will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the Round Barns on St. Mary's Road.

The sale is sponsored by the Illinois Purebred Cattle Association, the Illini Dairy Club, and the U of I Department of Animal Sciences. The sale will follow the PDCA's annual meeting at 11:30 a.m. April 1.

URBANA-Expectations for an increase in soybean acreage in 2006 are driven by the cost advantage of soybeans over competing crops like corn, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Other factors driving these expectations include increased acreage of double-cropped soybeans stemming from an increase in acreage of soft red winter wheat and a rebound in acreage in Minnesota and the Dakotas if spring weather is more normal," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed consumption, stocks, and acreage of soybeans.

URBANA - Kicking off this year's University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture tours is a visit to Oak Grove Organic Dairy in Carthage on Thursday, May 4. Oak Grove is a USDA certified organic dairy on 290 acres.

"Our cows are raised naturally without the use of antibiotics, genetically modified organisms, or added hormones," said owner Tony Huls. "Growing organically allows the cows to get exercise, fresh air and sun daily. Not subjecting them to feedlots or confinements is the most humane and natural way to produce milk and it tastes better."

URBANA--It may be only a matter of time before counties in central and eastern Illinois suffer corn yield losses comparable to those experienced in 2005 in northeastern and western Illinois, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Corn yields still have downside potential," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who co-authored the study with Department of Agricultural and Consumer Sciences colleague Bruce Sherrick.

URBANA-Farm revenue assurance, an alternative to the current mechanisms for distributing farm program benefits, will be the topic of the first annual Gardner Endowed Chair Agricultural Policy Lecture at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

"Canada's Experience with Farm Revenue Insurance: Lessons for Future U.S. Farm Policy?" will be delivered by Douglas Hedley, former Assistant Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The lecture will be at 3:30 p.m., April 6, in the Monsanto Room of the ACES Library.

URBANA-Corn consumption during the 2006-07 marketing year is expected to increase in export, domestic consumption, and domestic processing categories, particularly the latter as ethanol production expands, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Use this year will be near 10.9 billion bushels and could expand to 11.5 billion next year," said Darrel Good. "It appears that U.S. corn stocks at the end of the 2006-07 marketing year could be reduced to about 1.75 billion bushels, under current production and consumption expectations.

URBANA-While the market focus is shifting to new crop production prospects for corn and soybeans, old crop consumption rates and general demand prospects will still have an influence on price, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

March 1 marked the mid-point of the 2005-06 marketing year for corn and soybeans. At this time of year, the market traditionally begins to change focus from the rate of consumption of the old crop to prospects for acreage and production of the new crop.

URBANA - The Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois promotes research and provides outreach opportunities of a wide spectrum of alternative farming practices as well as ways to provide an adequate and dependable farm income. This year's schedule of six sustainable agriculture tours sponsored by the program represents this diversity of topics.

URBANA - Research at the University of Illinois is one step closer to opening up a billion-dollar market to the hog industry and reducing U.S. dependence on crude oil imports. U of I scientists have teamed with industry partners to design a pilot plant for a large commercial livestock farm that will convert swine manure to crude oil.

URBANA-While USDA crop production forecasts have performed reasonably well over a 36-year period, there is room for improvement, according to two University of Illinois professors in a recent study.

URBANA-The growth of ethanol production would seem to have positive benefits for cattle feeders, and perhaps the dairy industry, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"However, for hogs and poultry, the question is whether the increased price of corn will be offset by added value in the feed product that is returned," said Chris Hurt. "If not, this could mean some restructuring of the location of the U.S. and world animal industries.

Urbana, IL -- Many rely on backup electric generators for emergency power when the electricity goes out. If you have one, or are considering purchasing a backup generator, Safe Electricity wants you to know and take proper safety steps before operating an electric generator in your home or business.

URBANA-Antibiotic use in swine production will be the focus of the 2006 University of Illinois Pork Industry Conference to be held April 27-28 at the Holiday Inn of Urbana.

"Antibiotics are valuable tools in animal production and have been for half a century," explained Jim Pettigrew, U of I Extension swine specialist and professor of animal sciences and co-organizer of the conference. "However, there are concerns that use of antibiotics in animal production contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance in human medicine.

URBANA - For several years, if you had taken a look at the South Farms at the University of Illinois, you might have seen a tractor driving itself. Cameras mounted on the tractor use computer vision to steer the machine. Now, this “smart” tractor is about to become even more intelligent.

University of Illinois researchers are developing an automatic diagnostic system that will be able to "hear" that ping in the engine telling you something is wrong. In addition, they are gearing up to use their automatic guidance system to judge the terrain for rollover prevention.

URBANA - Teachers in central Illinois will have an opportunity to learn more about sustainable agriculture through a training program offered this summer and funded by the Dudley Smith Initiative.

URBANA-Whether or not a switch in acreage from corn to soybeans in 2006 is the right thing to do from a broad market perspective will depend upon the yields of corn and soybeans that materialize in 2006, the magnitude of production in the rest of the world, and the world demand for corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Current world production and demand prospects, however, seem to be relatively more favorable for corn than for soybeans," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - Sixth grade students in Chris Baugher's science class at Litchfield Middle School will learn about the importance of carbon sequestration in agriculture. The development of the lesson will be funded through a grant funded by the Dudley Smith Initiative announced earlier this year.

URBANA - Seventh grade art students will learn important tasks of field identification of weed and plant species through a grant funded by the Dudley Smith Initiative.

The students in Marsha DeWilde's art class will learn about the area weeds and plants specific to central Illinois, and impacts of devastation. They will then go to the Dudley Smith Farm in Pana to learn how to identify weed species through illustration, digital photography, measurement and sampling. A total of 50 students will be involved in the program that will commence in the fall of 2006.

URBANA-Group crop insurance products may be more attractive for producers following the USDA Risk Management Agency's increase in expected yields for the coming growing season, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"The expected yield increases make group products more attractive and may cause some farmers to switch to group products from farm products such as Actual Production History (APH), Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC), Income Protection (IP), and Revenue Assurance (RA)," said Gary Schnitkey.

Urbana -- On Friday and Saturday, March 10 and 11, visitors will have a chance to see what is really going on behind the doors at the University of Illinois, which ranks eighth in the Kiplinger's Personal Finance top 100 values in public colleges.

URBANA-While soybean prices are not high in absolute terms, prices remain higher than expected given the size of the current and expected surplus, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"On the surface, there seems to be some disconnect between known fundamentals and the level of soybean prices," said Darrel Good. "On the other hand, the market may be looking beyond the current surplus, anticipating resurgence in consumption and/or a decline in U.S. production in 2006.

URBANA--Both users and producers of hay will have the opportunity to gain new information at the Bi-State Forage Institute: Focus on Hay to be held Feb. 25 in Harvard.

"This is a one-day event targeting horse, dairy, beef and sheep producers, as well as producers of hay," said Ellen Phillips, University of Illinois Extension crop systems educator.

"Users of hay will get a good understanding of how hay is produced. Producers of hay will get information to help produce high-quality hay."

URBANA - The 2006 MidWest Plan Service (MWPS) Catalog is now available, and it has something for everyone.

MWPS, a university-based publishing cooperative, offers over 175 low-cost and free agricultural publications. Their catalog is free of charge and available online at http://www.mwpshq.org. A print version can be ordered by calling 1-800-562-3618.

URBANA-The 2006 Sheep Shearing School will be held April 5-6 at the Livestock Pavilion on the Western Illinois University campus in Macomb.

"Youth and adults may enroll in the shearing school," said University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist Dick Cobb. "Students should be over 15 and have enough size and strength to handle mature sheep. They should also have a sincere interest in sheep production and have a chance to shear sheep after the school."

The school will be limited to 24 students, and enrollments are accepted in the order they are received.

URBANA-It is difficult to identify a single factor that has contributed to the run-up in corn prices over the past two weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Fundamentally, the increase in exports and export sales has been a supportive factor," said Darrel Good. "Ideas that ethanol-driven demand for corn will continue to increase at a brisk pace and that U.S. corn acreage may decline modestly in 2006 also provide fundamental support.

URBANA - Seafood seems to be going the way of many other industries in the U.S. In the past decade, the rate of imports has steadily increased. In fact, in 2004, imports made up 80 percent of the U.S. seafood market.

Due to this trend, aquaculture producers in Illinois and Indiana need to find new ways to turn a profit as they bring their fish to market, according to Kwamena Quagrainie, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant's new aquaculture marketing specialist. "Imported seafood is typically priced lower than these producers can compete with."

URBANA - Seafood seems to be going the way of many other industries in the U.S. In the past decade, the rate of imports has steadily increased. In fact, in 2004, imports made up 80 percent of the U.S. seafood market.

Due to this trend, aquaculture producers in Illinois and Indiana need to find new ways to turn a profit as they bring their fish to market, according to Kwamena Quagrainie, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant's new aquaculture marketing specialist. "Imported seafood is typically priced lower than these producers can compete with."

URBANA-The cattle industry can expect another year of high prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Cow-calf producers will be well rewarded with very profitable calf prices which are likely to continue to fan the desire for greater expansion," said Chris Hurt. "The current expansion is expected to extend until around 2010 with the largest beef production on this cycle coming in 2010 to 2012.

"This likely means several more years of favorable prices as cow slaughter remains low and heifer retention high."

URBANA-The 38th annual Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale, featuring 143 bulls, will be held at 11 a.m., Feb. 23 in the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The sale will kick-off the 19th Annual Illinois Beef Expo.

URBANA-A website is available for 4-H and FFA members who require Quality Assurance and Ethics Clinic certification for the 2006 Illinois State Fair. The site's address is: http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/qaec/qaec .

"The web certification will be the only approved method for 2006 and futures years," said Dave Seibert, University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator based in East Peoria. "The movement to the website was the result of requests by parents and participants.

URBANA - Illinois farmers will soon have a new market available to them--selling carbon credits they can earn by adopting a variety of conservation practices.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and a number of state agencies and private organizations are developing a program that will allow producers and land owners to earn and sell "carbon credits" for using conservation practices, such as no-till and planting grasses and trees.

URBANA--A spring break trip for University of Illinois students interested in dairy management is now open to the public, said Gene McCoy, who teaches the class in the Department of Animal Sciences.

"From March 17 through the 23rd, we'll be traveling through southern Wisconsin and northeast Iowa, visiting dairy operations," he said. "We'll have the opportunity to observe dairy operations ranging in size from 50 to 3,000 dairy cows.

Note: A high resolution photo of the Grand Canyon and a photo of Illinois farmland as well as a pdf of Isserman's new classification system are available at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/america/

URBANA, IL -- Rising energy costs are driving many businesses to look for ways to be more energy efficient. Farmers and cooperatives, on the other hand, are responding to those rising costs by looking for ways to develop renewable fuels to increase energy supplies.

The Illinois Electric Council (IEC) is sponsoring one-day Energy Solutions Workshops to help small businesses, farmers and cooperatives find the resources to accomplish their goals.

URBANA-Even an average soybean price of $5.45 for the year seems high in light of such a large surplus, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The model correlating the level of year-ending stocks to the marketing year average price suggests a marketing year average price near $5 for this year," said Darrel Good. "Such a low average will not materialize since prices for the reset of the year would have to average near $4, but it appears that there is still a large amount of weather risk reflected in current prices.

URBANA-Electronic identification options for sheep producers will be among the topics covered March 4 at the annual Sheep Industry Day sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The event will be held in the U of I Stock Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue.

"The program will include things of interest to both adult and youth sheep producers," said Dick Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist. "In addition, the Illinois Lamb and Wool Producers will present awards to FFA producers from various areas of the state."

Editor's Note: A high resolution digital photo is available for publication with this article. Please contact L. Brian Stauffer, lstauffe@uiuc.edu, for this photo.

URBANA - What do you get when you cross a machete with a cutlass?

No one knows for sure, but a University of Illinois student aims to find out as he attempts to improve the ergonomics of cutting tools used by manual laborers in Guyana and South Africa.

URBANA-The increase in prices for corn and soybeans, particularly the latter, in late December and early January did not seem warranted based on known fundamental factors, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

""Fundamental factors are even more negative now," said Darrel Good. "While soybean prices have declined about 60 cents since Jan. 4, additional declines might be expected unless the South American crop comes under significant stress.

URBANA - The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded the University of Illinois $10 million to provide the initial genome sequence of the pig. U of I animal geneticists, Lawrence Schook and Jonathan Beever recently created a side-by-side comparison of the human and pig genomes and are excited that they will now be able to take that research to the next level. Schook, Beever and Bruce Schatz from the Department of Medical Information science at the U of I will coordinate the project.

URBANA--If hog producers enjoy a third consecutive year of profit as projected, accumulated earnings are going to be large enough to encourage further expansion, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"This may make the years 2007 and 2008 more financially vulnerable, but before starting to worry about the future, we should celebrate the three-year winning streak," said Chris Hurt.

Urbana - Current 4-H members who are high school seniors or in their last year of 4-H membership are encouraged to apply for the 2006 Legacy of Leadership Scholarship. The application deadline for this merit-based award is March 1, 2006. Scholarships may be used for expenses for further education programs, including trade schools, junior colleges, colleges, or universities.

Urbana - Current 4-H members who are high school seniors or in their last year of 4-H membership are encouraged to apply for the 2006 Legacy of Leadership Scholarship. The application deadline for this merit-based award is March 1, 2006. Scholarships may be used for expenses for further education programs, including trade schools, junior colleges, colleges, or universities.

URBANA-Two beef sire selection and management seminars will be held on Feb. 2, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The seminars will be in Onarga and Paris.

"The most important decision made each year in the cow-calf enterprise is the selection, health, and management of the herd sire," said Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in East Peoria. "Not only does the sire contribute 50 percent of the genetic makeup of the offspring, but he can also have a major impact on the calf crop from birth through harvest."

URBANA--Average Illinois net farm income is expected to drop by 50 percent in 2005 compared to 2004, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

"Farm incomes are projected to be over $47,100 per farm lower in 2005 compared to actual farm incomes in 2004," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist, who co- authored the study with colleagues Gary Schnitkey and Paul Ellinger. "The 2005 average income will be lower than the previous five-year average income.

URBANA - In a perfect world, access to an adequate supply of healthy, affordable food would be available to everyone. Finding solutions to the problems in our current food chain in this imperfect world is one of the goals for a food security summit to be held at the Burpee Center on the Rockford College campus. The Rockford & Four Rivers Food Security Summit will run from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 27 and 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 28.

URBANA-Two area Beef Cattle Seminars are set for February in western Illinois, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

"Emphasis during the programs will be placed on reducing the cost of production in the cow-calf operations and producing a quality beef product," said Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in East Peoria.

On Feb. 7, the seminar will be held at the Fulton County Extension office in Lewiston. The Feb. 8 seminar will be at the Orr Research Center near Perry. Both programs will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

URBANA-Online classes that offer producers more information about dairy feeding and milk secretion will be available this winter through University of Illinois Extension. Both classes are taught by U of I Extension dairy specialists.

"Both classes start in late January with all lectures recorded on a CD," explained Mike Hutjens, who will teach Advanced Dairy Feeding. A course on milk secretion, mastitis, and quality will be taught by Geoff Dahl.

URBANA--No matter the size of the enterprise--small, family-owned or a large corporation--successful businesses understand the importance of providing excellent customer service. University of Illinois Extension is helping them attain that goal.

"In today's competitive business environment, those businesses that provide exceptional service are more likely to survive, and in many cases, thrive," said Rachelle Hollinshead, a U of I Extension community and economic development educator based at Effingham.

URBANA--One of the fastest growing services of University of Illinois Extension is being driven not only by local demand but the willingness of those communities to contribute funding. The result, to date, has been 12 community and economic development educators who bring key players together to identify strengths, weaknesses, and growth potential.

URBANA - Cattle feeders can keep abreast of industry changes to enhance their management and marketing practices by attending the 2006 Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short Course on January 23 and February 6, 2006, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Building.

URBANA-An agreement formally launching an intensive training program for Illinois county board members and commissioners has been signed by University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners (IACBMC). Earlier this summer, U of I Extension and IACBMC offered the first Certified County Officials (CCO) program seminar.

URBANA--Twelve Illinois dairy producers and breeders were recently honored for their contributions to the industry by the Illinois Purebred Dairy Cattle Association (IL-PDCA).

"These awards recognize individuals who have been selected by their peers for their contributions to breed success and improvements in the Illinois and U.S. dairy industry," said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

Those honored include:

URBANA--Dennis R. Campion, Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, has been named secretary of the Council for Extension, Continuing Education, and Public Service (CECEPS) of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

CECEPS is a group for professionals engaged in a broad range of outreach activities including Extension, economic development, continuing education, technical assistance, and public service.

NOTE TO EDITORS: This is the last Weekly Outlook of 2005. The next report will be released on January 9, 2006.

URBANA--A number of important USDA reports with potential impact on crop prices will be released over the next four weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Markets will continue to react to other factors, but these reports will provide updated fundamental information," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - In addition to exploring the latest information on nutrient and conservation practices, producers can find out whether new opportunities in "carbon trading" can pay big dividends at the upcoming Illinois Regional Tillage Seminars in February.

This year's series of five seminars, to be held across the state, will feature the latest research, technology and cost-saving techniques available to farmers interested in the economic and environmental benefits of conservation tillage, including no-till and strip till.

URBANA-Corn and soybean futures prices moved higher following the USDA reports that contained larger projections of ending stocks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The price action suggests that the forecasts were well anticipated and that the market is now focusing on other factors," said Darrel Good. "Still, the recent trading range for corn futures is not expected to be expanded. That would mean March corn futures trading between $2 and $2.20.

URBANA--Agricultural decision-makers have a new place to start their day--"The Farm Gate," an Internet blog updated daily by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA-Plant breeding scientists from around world will gather in Mexico City during Aug. 20-25, 2006 for the First International Plant Breeding Symposium, which will honor John W. Dudley, emeritus professor of plant genetics at the University of Illinois.

The sessions will assess the state of the science of plant breeding and examine the future prospects for the field. The event is being organized by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Iowa State University, Monsanto, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

URBANA-Corn-after-corn production may be less profitable than soybean production in 2006, meaning the recent trend of increasing corn production may end, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Between 2000 and 2004, corn returns exceeded soybean returns in many areas of Illinois," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist who co-authored the study with fellow Extension specialist Dale Lattz.

URBANA-While other factors will influence corn and soybean prices over the next few months, particularly South American weather and crop conditions, a continuation of the current slow pace of export sales would limit price rallies, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - A University of Illinois student has received top honors for research showing that a biofilter made from woodchips can significantly reduce the concentration of herbicides in water flowing through field tiles.

URBANA-A new "front door" for University of Illinois Extension programs has been opened on the Internet. Its address is: http://www.extension.uiuc.edu .

URBANA-A workshop that will aid farmers in making crop insurance and grain marketing decisions for 2006 will be offered at 14 locations throughout the state next year by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA--Farmers will have the opportunity to learn how to use a computer software tool to help in financial management decisions at two University of Illinois Extension workshops offered throughout the state in January and February.

"Farm Financial Management Using FAST" will be offered at six locations between Jan. 10 and Jan. 24, and "Extending Your Farm Financial Management Using FAST" will be offered at five locations between Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.

URBANA - How do you produce food on Mars? And what happens to all of the waste that builds up during a three-year trip?

These are just some of many life-support issues that a University of Illinois researcher is grappling with as he helps NASA prepare for extended trips to Mars.

"NASA's new goal is to go to Mars," said Luis Rodriguez, professor of agricultural and biological engineering. "But the technology they're working on is about a decade away from preliminary testing, hopefully on the surface of the Moon."

URBANA-Increased supplies do not seem to be the cause of weaker hog prices, which reached lows for the year during Thanksgiving week and averaged the lowest prices in November of the past 22 months, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Low prices do not seem to be related to increased supplies, which are up only 0.4 percent this year," said Chris Hurt. "The same can be said for the more recent period of October and November when supplies have only been up about 1 percent. Yet, with such a modest change in supply, prices are dramatically lower this fall.

URBANA-Illinois landowners should reassess their options for granting permission for use of their land for recreational purposes, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

URBANA--The University of Illinois has released the 2005 results from its variety testing program for corn and soybeans. The data from these latest trials are available in both printed form and on the Internet at http://vt.cropsci.uiuc.edu/.

URBANA-Over the next several weeks, corn and soybean futures may continue to trade in a fairly narrow range with cash prices benefiting from some continued strengthening of the basis, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"More significant price variability is possible after the first of the year, with South American crop conditions being of most interest," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed the corn and soybean markets which are shifting away from concerns about crop size.

URBANA--Nine locations throughout the state will host the 2006 Illinois Dairy Days, "Building on Basics," sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The series begins Jan. 4 and concludes Jan. 19.

"The dairy business continues to face challenging times and to help dairy producers make correct management decisions we have developed this series of one-day meetings," said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

"These meetings provide a good opportunity to capitalize on the latest dairy innovations close to home."

URBANA-Continued strong market hog prices for most of 2005 and lower feed costs will result in another profitable year for hog producers, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

URBANA--Updates on the Illinois Scrapie program, animal identification, and producing lambs for ethnic markets will be on the agenda of University of Illinois Extension's 2006 Shepherds' Clinic program. The clinic will be offered Jan. 9 and 23 over the Telenet system.

URBANA-The soybean market appears to be a little overpriced based on current U.S. and world supply, consumption, and stocks forecast, particularly if U.S. soybean acreage increases in 2006, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Current prices are likely reflecting uncertainty about a number of factors," said Darrel Good. "Those uncertainties may include the South American growing season--weather and soybean rust--and renewed concerns about soybean rust in the United States in 2006.

URBANA--Telecommunications innovations for rural Illinois communities will be the topic at a Nov. 17 conference in Springfield, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. "Connecting the 'e' to Rural Illinois: What Urban Areas Can Learn" will be held at the Public Affairs Center on the U of I--Springfield campus from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

URBANA--While near-term prospects do not point to a significant rebound in corn prices, history suggests that cash prices will recover by the spring/summer of 2006, at least for a brief period, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The 'typical' rebound in cash prices from fall lows to spring/summer highs in Illinois is about 70 cents per bushel," said Darrel Good.

URBANA - From farmers' markets to foreign markets -- food entrepreneurs to farmers with an agritourism operation -- advertising can be the determining factor of success or failure, profit or loss. A conference entitled, "Marketing Strategies for Consumer-Driven Agriculture" will feature speakers and breakout sessions designed to help small, medium and large sized farm businesses learn how they can be more successful at advertising and marketing themselves.

URBANA--Distillers grain, a valuable commodity for both corn and livestock producers, is the topic of a new University of Illinois Extension website. "Distillers Feeds: Using Illinois By-Product Feeds in Livestock Feeding Programs" is located at: http://ilift.traill.uiuc.edu/distillers/ .

URBANA-The University of Illinois' 2006 Crop Protection Technology Conference is scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, and Thursday, January 5, 2006, at the Illini Union on the U of I campus.

Along with updates on the latest developments in crop protection, the program will feature an opening session with an overview of ten years of transgenic crops and a closing session on the future of integrated pest management.

URBANA-Agronomists from the University of Illinois have developed a new approach for making nitrogen rate recommendations on corn that will help growers deal with the recent sharp increases in nitrogen prices. This method uses research data from some 250 nitrogen rate trials in Illinois and applies economics to the decision on nitrogen rates.

URBANA--A long-time dairy educator and researcher and two recent University of Illinois graduates have been honored by the National Dairy Shrine at Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

The late Sidney Spahr, a U of I faculty member who modernized the university's dairy farm and pioneered animal tracking and traceability systems, was recognized as a Pioneer. Spahr was cited for his "innovative research, his dedication to his students, and his commitment to public service."

URBANA-An Illinois Beef Health and Management Seminar will be held from 5:30 to 9:15 p.m., Dec. 12, at the Schuyler County Extension Office, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA--A Nov. 10 USDA report is expected to include larger projections for year-ending stocks of both corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"While the U.S. average yield forecasts for both corn and soybeans were increased in September and October, another small increase in November would not be surprising," said Darrel Good, referring to the upcoming forecasts on the size of the 2005 U.S. corn and soybean crops and revised consumption forecasts for the 2005-06 marketing year.

URBANA - The upcoming Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) workshops in Illinois will address a broad range of new topics, as well as assist producers in their efforts to comply with environmental regulations affecting the livestock industry.

"This year's workshops are completely different from what they were in the past," said Ted Funk, University of Illinois agricultural engineer and creator of the CLMT workshops. "We're not going to rehash the same things producers heard three years ago. It's all going to be new."

Some of the new topics include:

URBANA--Illinois agricultural producers will have the opportunity to learn more about decision-making challenges in a risky environment through a series of University of Illinois Extension workshops offered throughout the state between Dec. 8 and 20.

"Farm Income 2006: A Workshop Addressing Decision-Making Challenges in a Risky Environment" will be offered in Springfield, Rochelle, Moline, Urbana, and Mount Vernon.

URBANA--A University of Illinois professor of agricultural and consumer economics was one of nine new appointees to a board that deals with USDA research. Laurian J. Unnevehr of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics will serve on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board.

URBANA--Midwestern agricultural producers have a greater stake in the current round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations than many assume, said a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

URBANA--For the average Illinois dairy producer, 2004 was one of the best years for profits in the past 20, according to a University of Illinois Extension study. The returns producers received per cow were the second highest in the last two decades.

URBANA-The U.S. cattle market seems to have quickly integrated Canadian live cattle back into the feedlots and into the slaughter mix without major bearish implications for the market, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA--Fine-tuning a swine production operation to maximize productivity and profitability will be the theme of a Nov. 15-16 conference in Springfield. The Springfield event is one of several stops for the 2005 Professional Managers Conference sponsored by the National Pork Board, said Rob Knox, University of Illinois Extension swine reproduction specialist.

"This two-day meeting will offer practical information that can be applied immediately by a swine unit manager, producer-owner, or employee," said Knox.

URBANA-Some soybean growers could increase their profits by as much as $100 per acre or more simply by planting the highest-yielding varieties with high levels of resistance to the specific type of soybean cyst nematode (SCN) found in their fields, according to a recent analysis of results from the variety trials conducted at the University of Illinois.

URBANA--The prospective size of the South American crop will become the dominant price factor in the soybean market over the next several weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA -- A conference on organic production will be held on January 11 and 12, 2006 at the Interstate Center in Bloomington. The purpose of this second annual conference is to provide practical science-based information on organic production, certification and marketing. The conference is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension and the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois.

URBANA -- From mid-September to mid-October, seven Egyptian faculty members from five universities in Egypt are getting a crash course in how to develop more effective college horticulture classes. They were each assigned to a faculty mentor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois to help them either develop a new course or revise an existing one.

URBANA--If the 2005 corn and soybean crops are as large as expected, cash prices will likely remain under pressure through harvest and beyond, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Basis levels will likely remain weak until storage and transportation issues are resolved," said Darrel Good. "Futures prices will also have difficulty rebounding due to the relative large premiums for deferred contracts. Cash corn prices remain well below the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loan rate and loan deficiency payment (LDP) remains very large.

URBANA--Illinois agricultural producers can now compare their farm operations and performance measures to farms with similar characteristics by using a study by University of Illinois Extension and the U of I Center for Farm and Rural Business Finance.

URBANA-While the safest bet is that commodity programs in the 2007 farm bill will look much like the present ones, budgetary and international trade considerations may trigger fundamental change in U.S. agricultural policy, said a University of Illinois professor of agricultural policy.

URBANA-Variable costs on Illinois grain farms are projected to be $55 per acre higher for corn in 2006 than they were in 2002, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Variable costs for soybeans will be $20 per acre higher in 2006 than they were in 2002," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist and co-author of the report with fellow Extension specialist Dale Lattz.

URBANA-The hog market is asking U.S. producers to expand, but so far their response has been "no," said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Pork producers must like making money, because they sure are not willing to rock the boat by expanding," said Chris Hurt. "The USDA's September Hogs and Pigs report says that producers are content keeping numbers about where they have been. In fact, the breeding herd has changed less than one percent in each of the last five quarterly reports, the longest period ever with such small changes.

URBANA--Illinois swine producers will have the opportunity to attend two major swine conferences to be held in Springfield in November and December, said Rob Knox, University of Illinois Extension swine reproduction specialist.

"A multi-state Professional Managers Conference will be held in Springfield on Nov. 15-16," said Knox. "This program is sponsored by the National Pork Board and is targeted to employees, owners, and managers of swine production units."

URBANA-Diesel fuel prices have increased substantially with no indication of declining in the future, confronting farmers with another economic challenge, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"The rise in diesel fuel prices has resulted in increased machinery costs for farmers," said Dale Lattz, co-author of "Effects of Higher Fuel Prices on Machinery Costs" with fellow Extension specialist Gary Schnitkey.

URBANA--It is a little early to anticipate U.S. corn and soybean acreage and production for 2006, but the escalating costs of corn production have some analysts anticipating reduced corn acreage and increased soybean acreage, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - Carroll Goering's pioneering work in alternative fuels and his leadership in agricultural engineering education have earned him one of the most prestigious honors in his field--the Cyrus Hall McCormick Jerome Increase Case Gold Medal Award.

Goering, professor emeritus in the department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois, received the award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) for "exceptional and meritorious engineering achievements."

URBANA-A large number of pricing alternatives for corn that involve some combination of the loan program and storage, and perhaps options, could be considered by producers, including the provision to place corn under loan and "lock" the current marketing loan gain rate for 60 days, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Many producers will want to consider a combination of strategies depending on storage availability and cost and cash flow needs," said Darrel Good. "The loan certification program is available for those who face payment limitations."

URBANA--A new cookbook that presents the many ways that soy can be used as a healthy and delicious ingredient in recipes from around the world has been published by the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois.

This illustrated, full-color publication entitled Around the World with Soy is the fifth in an ongoing cookbook series, Soy in the American Kitchen.

URBANA, IL -- "A Harvest of Safety and Health" is the theme of this year's National Farm Safety and Health Week Sept. 18–24. "Unfortunately, one of the top hazards on today's farms remains electrocution, which frequently occurs during harvest season when farm equipment comes in contact with power lines," says Molly Hall, the executive director of the Safe Electricity program.

URBANA-While final corn and soybean crop sizes may different from the current USDA forecasts, it appears that U.S. and world supplies of both commodities will remain fully adequate for another year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA--Illinois crop and livestock producers worried about the implications of the drought for corn, soybeans, and forages can go to a new University of Illinois Extension website for information.

"We have placed material covered during a Sept. 2 statewide drought TeleNet on the Web," said Jim Morrison, U of I Extension crop systems educator based in Rockford. "The material is designed for crop and livestock producers as well as industry representatives. The material provides management strategies and guidelines for dealing with moisture-stressed crops.

URBANA--Twenty-five Illinois youth received scholarships in the 2005 Superior Young Producer Award program, developed and conducted by University of Illinois Extension. Funding for the $25,000 in scholarships came from ADM and Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke.

"The purpose of this event is to create an educational activity at the Illinois State Fair which promotes youth development and personal growth through increased knowledge of the livestock industry," said Dave Fischer, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in Edwardsville.

URBANA--Private forecasters tend to believe that the U.S. corn crop is larger than the USDA's August estimate and feel the same way about the soybean crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Two of the most followed private estimates place the corn crop at 10.384 and 10.455 billion bushels, respectively, rather than the USDA's 10.35 billion," said Darrel Good. "Two of the most followed private estimates place the soybean crop at 2.835 and 2.84 billion respectively, as opposed to the USDA's 2.791 billion bushels."

URBANA--Landlords and tenants may wish to renegotiate 2005 and 2006 cash rents because fewer funds will be available to pay them, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Per acre corn and soybean returns in 2005 and 2006 are projected to be significantly lower than returns in 2003 and 2004," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist and co-author of the report with fellow Extension specialist Dale Lattz. "As a result, fewer funds will be available to pay cash rents in 2005 and 2006."

NOTE: Darrel Good is at the Farm Progress Show today (Sept. 1). If you need to reach him for further comment, his phone is (217) 840-9313. He will be back in the office on Sept. 2.

URBANA--While the human toll of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area is tragic, there are economic consequences as well for Illinois and Midwestern farmers, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA-In recent years, tremendous advances have been in grain quality testing and management, ranging from detection of genetically modified organism to rapid assessment of starches and amino acids.

Yet, in nearly all cases, these attribute measurements have been conducted by the sellers of grain rather than by farmers and grain handlers.

URBANA, IL -- A new study to evaluate the Illinois Soil N Test (ISNT) calls into question traditional soil fertility recommendations and promises a radical new soil-based approach that will benefit crop yields, the environment, and the bottom line for farmers.

URBANA- The combination of lower anticipated feed prices and stronger late-summer hog prices has provided a more positive long-term outlook for pork producers, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"This may finally set in motion a U.S. expansion," said Chris Hurt. "However, even with expansion getting under way this fall and winter, the additional market supplies are not expected to show up until the fall of 2006. This means that next year should be profitable for producers."

URBANA-Principles of dairy science and the latest information in dairy cattle reproduction research are among the topics covered in two University of Illinois Extension classes offered this fall online.

URBANA-Both corn and soybean market participants continue to debate possible changes in forecasts for production and use, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"U.S. corn stocks at the end of the 2005-06 marketing year are projected at 1.9 billion bushels. Stocks at or above 1.2 billion are considered adequate," said Darrel Good. "The combination of smaller production or larger use would have to be about 700 million bushels, or 6.7 percent of the current projection, to result in a tight supply of corn.

URBANA--Sustained, groundbreaking work in animal nutrition has earned Jimmy H. Clark, professor emeritus in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences, the FASS-AFIA New Frontiers in Animal Nutrition Award. The award is jointly made by the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) and the American Feed Industrial Association (AFIA).

URBANA--A mid-year survey of Illinois farmland values will be released in detail at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 31 in the media tent at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

URBANA - The "sludge boat" is a far cry from the Love Boat, as it cuts a wake across a manure storage lagoon on the South Farms of the University of Illinois. But the sludge boat has the potential of making life a lot more pleasant for livestock farmers.

U of I researchers have designed a small, remote-controlled boat that can sail across a waste treatment lagoon, measuring the amount of sludge in the lagoon along the way. The mini boat eliminates both the hazards and the hassles of measuring sludge the old-fashioned way--by sticking a pole into various spots of the lagoon.

URBANA-With new crop cash corn prices for harvest delivery near or below the loan level, there is little urgency in selling additional quantities, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"If the weak basis and large carry in the corn market persists into harvest, producers may want to consider storing as much of the crop as possible, establishing the loan deficiency payment (LDP), and forward pricing for later delivery in order to capture the carry," said Darrel Good.

URBANA-The Department of Crop Sciences at the University Illinois and U of I Extension will hold a field day at the Orr Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center on Tuesday, August 23, 2005. The Center is located in northeastern Pike County, four miles west of the junction of Routes 104 and 107.

The presentations at the field day are designed to address current issues in crop management for producers, advisers, agribusiness representatives, landowners, and others who are interested in crop production. Speakers will include educators and specialists from the U of I.

URBANA - The 2005 corn and soybean crops will be small enough that year-ending stocks will likely be reduced significantly during the year ahead, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist. Will the crops be large enough to allow consumption to continue at the current record pace, or will production be small enough to require a reduction in use?

URBANA - Another mystery of life has been unraveled, one DNA strand at a time. University of Illinois animal geneticists Lawrence Schook and Jonathan Beever have created a side-by-side comparison of the human genome and the pig genome that reveals remarkable similarities. "We took the human genome, cut it into 173 puzzle pieces and rearranged it to make a pig," said Schook. "Everything matches up perfectly. The pig is genetically very close to humans."

URBANA-A recent evaluation of drought-stressed corn at Congerville, combined with similar evaluations, has led a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator to make a series of recommendations for producers considering feeding such corn to cattle.

"As a result of the prolonged summer drought, many producers are out of pasture and have a short supply of hay," said Dave Seibert, who is based in East Peoria. "Cattle producers are evaluating the option of grazing, greenchopping, or ensiling corn for feed for the remainder of the summer and into fall and winter.

Urbana, Illinois -- A spore trap in Champaign County, Illinois has turned up 4 rust-like spores, but plant pathologists are quick to say that this finding does NOT mean we have Asian soybean rust infection in Illinois.

"No infected plants have been found and the spores are the shape of fungal rust spores but they have not yet been identified as Asian soybean rust," said Suzanne Bissonnette, U of I Extension Educator IPM.

URBANA - Bromoxynil is a herbicide used to control weeds in cereals, corn, sorghum, flax, mint, grass and seed crops, among others. Like many other herbicides commonly used in agriculture, it is classified as a possible human carcinogen and considered to be developmentally toxic. So it's important to know what happens to it after it leaves the plant and goes into the soil and eventually the groundwater.

URBANA--Drought-spawned low crop yields may trigger crop insurance payments on some Illinois farms and University of Illinois Extension has developed a calculator that will help producers determine what they might expect in payments. The calculator is available in the crop insurance section of farmdoc (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/cropins ) more information is available at: http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/newsletters/fefo05_13/fefo05_13.html .

URBANA-The recent wide trading range in corn and soybean prices is expected to continue as August weather unfolds, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"There is some chance that the market will view the August production forecasts as the highest of the forecast cycle that continues through November," said Darrel Good. "For December corn futures to move above the June high near $2.70, the market will have to anticipate a crop below 9.6 billion bushels.

URBANA--Cattle producers in southern and western Illinois will have two opportunities to attend a University of Illinois Extension Beef Cow Efficiency Conference. The conference will be offered Aug. 23 in Benton and Aug. 24 in Quincy. Both programs start at 4 p.m. and conclude at 8:45 p.m.

URBANA--Current drought conditions in Illinois mean it is now time for beef producers to start thinking about their winter feed program, said a University of Illinois Extension beef specialist.

"Feed costs are the number one critical control point in beef production," said Dan Faulkner. "This factor accounts for over 57 percent of the variation in profitability in beef operations. Feed costs represent more than one half of total costs in a cow-calf production system and winter feed costs are over one half of feed costs.

URBANA--Beef producers faced with drought conditions need to develop a plan for coping with these conditions and implement it, said a University of Illinois Extension beef specialist.

"There are a number of options to manage dry conditions," said Dan Faulkner. "The best options will vary from farm to farm, but it is important to develop a plan."

One option is to wean the calves early and place them on feed. U of I research indicates that calves can be weaned early and placed directly on a high grain finishing diet.

URBANA - On Tuesday, September 13 the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois will host a tour in and around Arthur, Illinois. The tour is entitled, "Marketing for Agriculture Entrepreneurs" and will visit two unique examples of creative agricultural marketing strategies.

The first stop will be the Arthur Produce Auction Center on auction day. With an initial investment of $150,000, 30 area farmers built a central location where they could bring their fresh produce and flowers to sell. Of the initial investors, 28 were Amish, two were not.

URBANA - There is money available through grants, but writing the proposal can sometimes be the biggest barrier to getting it. "Sometimes it has to do with being able to understand what the funds are targeted for and to be able to write a proposal so that it fits the guidelines. It's like applying for a job.

URBANA - Drying corn at too high a temperature can damage starch and make it difficult to extract, but research at the University of Illinois suggests that certain corn hybrids might be more resistant to high temperatures.

"So it looks like resistance to high temperature may well be a genetically controlled trait," said Steven Eckhoff, U of I agricultural and biological engineer. This means hybrids might be developed that can be dried at high temperatures--a clear economic advantage for producers.

URBANA - Beef supplies may rise by as much as 7 percent in the last half of 2005 and be up by 6 to 7 percent in the first half of 2006, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"With the Canadian border opened to live beef cattle, more cattle in the feedlot pipelines, and more heifers saved back to increase the size of the brood cow herd, some would say the party is over for high cattle prices," Chris Hurt said.

URBANA-Sheep producers can gain the latest information on the Scrapie and Individual Identification programs in Illinois during a web-based conference on August 2. Producers can log onto the 7 p.m. program through their home computers.

"The program will consist of a voice-over presentation and slides displayed in a virtual classroom in real time," said Dick Cobb, University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist. "Producers can ask questions in text messages in real time to the presenters."

URBANA--Livestock producers should consider several guidelines when making decisions in the next few weeks when and if to harvest their drought-stressed corn silage and consider purchasing barren corn from grain farmers, said Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Several areas in the Midwest are under moderate to severe moisture stress," he said. "Some corn has not pollinated, some corn is fired, and other corn has not reached the critical stages that will impact corn yield and quality."

Hutjens' recommendations include:

URBANA--Precautions are in order for dairy producers as forage supplies are stretched in anticipation of continued dry weather conditions, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy veterinarian.

"Producers need to take precautions as they attempt to locate alternate forage sources or consider chopping drought-stressed corn," said Dick Wallace. "Several crop species can accumulate nitrates but especially grasses such as corn, oats, wheat, barley, and sorghum."

URBANA--Corn prices are expected to continue to be quite volatile due to uncertain production prospects, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Stressful weather and declining crop condition ratings will likely continue to push prices higher even though current prices already reflect significant yield loss," said Darrel Good. "The contract high for December 2005 corn futures is $2.885. Prices above that level are not expected unless the 2005 crop is small enough to require a reduction in use.

URBANA-For many years, pork producers have known a certain number of their pigs would either die or be injured during transport from farm to slaughter, however an increase in those rates during the 1990s coupled with concerns about animal welfare have led to a University of Illinois research project addressing the problem.

Led by Mike Ellis, professor of animal sciences and one of his Ph.D. students, Matt Ritter, the two-year project is studying the transport of slaughter weight pigs under both commercial and experimental model conditions.

URBANA--While recent rainfall has reduced concerns about nitrate poisoning in cattle, sheep and goats in some areas of the state, other parts of Illinois may not be so lucky, said a University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator.

URBANA-Although some rust spores have recently been found in Kentucky and Tennessee, this discovery does not necessarily mean that Asian soybean rust has moved north and is on the way to Illinois, according to Suzanne Bissonnette, the soybean rust educational state coordinator for University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA - Using a herbicide that injures the corn plant along with the weeds pretty much defeats the purpose of using a selective herbicide, not to mention being extremely costly for farmers. Although herbicides are intended to kill only the weeds, some corn hybrids are sensitive to certain herbicides, particularly in sweet corn. This herbicide-induced injury ranges from temporary symptoms, such as stunting or leaf damage, to permanent damage including yield loss, and in severe cases, crop death.

URBANA-The USDA's July update of projections of supply, consumption, and stocks of major commodities indicated smaller U.S. inventories of corn and soybeans but more abundant supplies of U.S. wheat, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Some further tightening of world stocks of all three commodities was also indicated," said Darrel Good.

URBANA-Agronomy Day 2005 at the University of Illinois is scheduled for Thursday, August 18. The event features four tours on the latest developments in agricultural research, as well as numerous tent displays. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "Local Discovery/Global Impact."

"Agronomy Day serves as an annual showcase in which our faculty have an opportunity to discuss their latest research findings with clientele from Illinois and neighboring states," said Steve Moose, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences and chairperson for Agronomy Day.

URBANA--Helping county government officials develop the skills and knowledge they can use to benefit their communities is the goal of a new educational initiative by University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners. The Institute for Excellence in County Governance will hold its first session July 25 and 26 in Springfield.

URBANA-Based on the forecast of a continuation of stressful weather conditions in portions of the growing areas, corn and soybean prices are expected to recover much of the recent price decline, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Corn prices made that recovery early on July 5," said Darrel Good. "Crop condition rating may have to decline significantly to justify prices above recent highs."

URBANA - Evelyn Riebe owes her sanity to organic foods. "When I was 20 years old, I lost my mind," she said. "Finally my doctor figured out that I was allergic to petrochemicals. Once I started eating all organic foods, my mind was clear again."

Today, Riebe is an organic farmer. She farms almost 200 acres about 10 miles west of Pontiac, Illinois. On Short Point Organic Farm, she grows certified organic oats, corn, food grade soybeans and blue corn. She also has a small vegetable garden for her personal use.

URBANA - J.C. Lyons wanted a hobby. Growing shrimp won out. In March of 1999 he and his wife Brenda started researching the topic and from there grew a business into a multi-faceted enterprise.

Raising fresh-water shrimp is another way that farmers can expand their current operation, supplement their income, and remain economically sustainable. A tour of the Lyons Fisheries Prawn Farm in Sandoval is the fifth of six sustainable agriculture tours this year sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois.

An archive of pet columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is on the Web at http://www.cvm.uiuc.edu/petcolumns/.

By Kim Marie Labak

More than 170 veterinarians from throughout Illinois are members of the Illinois Veterinary Emergency Response Team, or IVERT. All have received training to respond to animal disease outbreaks, including foreign animal diseases and potential bioterrorism, especially within the domestic food supply.

URBANA--More than $9,500 was raised to support the activities of the University of Illinois dairy judging team during a golf outing on June 10, organizers reported. The funds also support a scholarship that will be used to recruitment new students.

"This event provides a way for former judging team members, friends, and U of I alumnae to swap stories and raise the funds needed to support the judging team," explained Gene McCoy, a retired faculty member who assists the team. "About 120 people took part in the event and 23 businesses or individuals sponsored holes."

URBANA - It makes sense that if weeds can't get a lot of sun, they won't be able to grow as well. Marty Williams, an ecologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, used this premise as he began his search for sweet corn hybrids that have the ability to naturally suppress weeds.

Urbana - More than a dozen conservation practices, from grassed waterway construction and wetland restoration to a unique method of agro-forestry, will be showcased this August at Illinois' premier soil and water conservation event.

The Illinois Conservation Expo 2005 will be held August 9 to 11 at the farm of Jerry and Leslie Lewis of Good Hope, Illinois, in McDonough County.

URBANA-U.S. hog producers are keeping the lid on expansion, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"After a year of profitability, the expectation was that some expansion was under way," said Chris Hurt. "However, the USDA's June Hogs and Pigs report showed the U.S. breeding herd is expanding less than 1 percent and producers indicated that summer and fall farrowings will be unchanged from last year's level.

"Pork supplies will, however, be larger in the next 12 months as a result of a higher weaning rate and a modest increase in weights."

URBANA-Growers can now find details on all aspects of soybean rust in Illinois at one convenient location on the Internet. The website at www.soybeanrust.org includes information on fungicide guidelines, crop insurance and best farming practices, forecasts for dispersion of soybean rust spores, and the latest updates from the USDA Sentinel Plot Program.

URBANA - Farm Beginnings is a program for farmers who want to learn more about low-cost, innovative methods of sustainable farming. And, for the first time, this farmer training program is available in Illinois. Applications are now open for the 2005-2006 Farm Beginnings course, which will run from October 2005 to August 2006. The classes will be held in Bloomington at the University of Illinois Extension Office.

URBANA-As corn and soybean prices move higher, it is useful to try to estimate the U.S. crop size that is reflected by current prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Obviously, a precise estimate cannot be made because other factors are influencing price," said Darrel Good. "In addition, the relationship between the crop size, consumption, and price varies over time. Still, the prospective crop size is a useful question to pursue."

URBANA - On-farm composting can work with small or large volumes of materials. A smaller composting operation will be showcased on Tuesday, July 19 at QW farms near Edgewood. It's the fourth of six sustainable agriculture tours this year sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois.

URBANA-While nominal, agricultural debt in Illinois has increased over the last decade, it does not appear to be a cause of concern for the state's agricultural sector, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Debt level increases have not resulted in a worsening debt-to-asset position nor have they resulted in an increase in interest expense per tillable acre," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who wrote the study.

URBANA - Innovative research at the University of Illinois is changing the way ethanol is produced--and making it more economical in the process.

Vijay Singh, U of I agricultural and biological engineer, has developed a new corn-milling process that increases the amount of ethanol produced per batch, as well as the value of the co-products resulting from the process. All that, said Singh, is the key to more profitable ethanol production.

URBANA-Even at the higher historically-based price projection for soybeans in 2005-06, it appears that the market is building in a much smaller crop than currently projected by USDA, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Current strength may be more related to concerns about soybean rust than adverse weather conditions," said Darrel Good. "The concern about the spread of soybean rust increased with the recent tropical storm, although spore production in Florida and Georgia appear to be at very low levels."

URBANA-The weather will continue to provide better-than-expected pricing opportunities for 2005 corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

Note to Editors: This is the third in a series of three articles discussing various areas of horse facility management. Each article can be used alone or as part of the series.

It's called "mucking out" the stables and it's as unpleasant as it sounds. Mucking out is the job of cleaning manure from horse stalls--an essential job for the health of your horses and the protection of the environment.

URBANA - An organic farm may seem like an unlikely place to give homeless people from Chicago a fresh start in society, but Growing Home Farm is much more than just a farm. It's part half-way house, part business, and part training center -- using agriculture as a way to get homeless people off of the street while giving them a work history, a new skill set, and a sense of purpose.

Note to Editors: This is the second in a series of three articles discussing various areas of horse facility management. Each article can be used alone or as part of the series.

URBANA - Horses have thrived in a natural environment for thousands of years. A large pasture with a simple shelter is often enough to keep a horse healthy. But today horses are often housed inside, where a proper ventilation system in the stable or barn is essential to a horse's health and well-being, said Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension agricultural engineer.

URBANA-Too much moisture and lack of the same at varying times have caused problems in the early going for the U.S. corn and soybean crops, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"It is still very early in the growing season so that prices can be expected to remain volatile," said Darrel Good. "The National Weather Service forecast for the period June 5 through June 9 is for normal to above normal temperatures for the Plains states and the east and for above normal precipitation for the bulk of the corn and soybean producing states.

Note to Editors: This is the first in a series of three articles discussing various areas of horse facility management. Each article can be used alone or as part of the series.

URBANA- The design and construction of floors in horse stables is often begun with the owner's best interests in mind. But what's best for the owner is not necessarily what's best for the horse, said Stanley Solomon, University of Illinois Extension educator in engineering technology.

URBANA--Living expenses rose $5,641 on average from 2003 to 2004 for 1,225 Illinois farm families monitored in a University of Illinois Extension study. Total living expenses averaged $58,549 in 2004 compared to $52,908 the year before.

The families studied are enrolled in the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association (FBFM) and are mainly grain farmers in central and northern Illinois. The figure includes both capital--automobiles, furniture, and household equipment--living expenses and non-capital living expenses.

URBANA-Four University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences faculty members have been cited by National Hog Farmer magazine as among the 50 men and women who have done the most to mold the swine industry over the past half century.

Three retired faculty in the Department of Animal Sciences--Dick Carlisle, Stan Curtis, and Gilbert Hollis--and Arthur J. Muehling, professor emeritus in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, were named to what the magazine termed "a veritable Who's Who in the U.S. pork industry."

URBANA- The potential arrival of soybean rust has become a major topic for soybean producers in Illinois during the 2005 growing season. This fungal disease can cause defoliation and significant yield losses.

But, according to Dean Malvick, plant pathologist from University of Illinois Extension, several plans and operations are already in place to provide information on when and how growers should respond to this threat.

URBANA- The potential arrival of soybean rust has become a major topic for soybean producers in Illinois during the 2005 growing season. This fungal disease can cause defoliation and significant yield losses.

But, according to Dean Malvick, plant pathologist from University of Illinois Extension, several plans and operations are already in place to provide information on when and how growers should respond to this threat.

URBANA- The potential arrival of soybean rust has become a major topic for soybean producers in Illinois during the 2005 growing season. This fungal disease can cause defoliation and significant yield losses.

But, according to Dean Malvick, plant pathologist from University of Illinois Extension, several plans and operations are already in place to provide information on when and how growers should respond to this threat.

URBANA- The potential arrival of soybean rust has become a major topic for soybean producers in Illinois during the 2005 growing season. This fungal disease can cause defoliation and significant yield losses.

But, according to Dean Malvick, plant pathologist from University of Illinois Extension, several plans and operations are already in place to provide information on when and how growers should respond to this threat.

URBANA- The potential arrival of soybean rust has become a major topic for soybean producers in Illinois during the 2005 growing season. This fungal disease can cause defoliation and significant yield losses.

But, according to Dean Malvick, plant pathologist from University of Illinois Extension, several plans and operations are already in place to provide information on when and how growers should respond to this threat.

Note: Several high resolution digital photos are available to download at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/Latvia/

URBANA-Market fundamentals suggest the continuation of strong hog prices, but not in the higher $50s as many had hoped, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Some had feared that the recent drop in prices was a sign that the 'big break' in hog prices had begun," said Chris Hurt. "That is not likely to happen."

URBANA-Farmers will have the opportunity to learn how FAST tools can aid them in making crop storage and management decisions in a workshop set for four locations and sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

URBANA-The 2005 Illinois Forage Expo will be held on June 13, 2005 at Funk Farms, Shirley, Illinois, which is located about ten minutes south of Bloomington. The site can be reached by going south on Interstate 55, exiting at the Shirley exit and then following the direction signs.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. with an expanded agenda because it is being held in conjunction with the American Forage and Grassland Council 2005 Conference. This national conference runs from June 11 to15 in the Bloomington area.

URBANA--As June Dairy Month approaches, a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist says the state's industry is in a state of transition.

"There was a mixed bag in 2004--good news and bad news together," said Mike Hutjens. "Reports of dairy farms enrolled in the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association record-keeping and management program indicated returns for management and labor in 2004 that were nearly three times more the returns in 2003. However, Illinois production continues to fall behind the U.S. averages."

URBANA-Americans are consuming more cream, sour cream, ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and flavored milk as the annual June Dairy Month approaches, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"There are some exciting factors in the future for dairy as well," said Mike Hutjens. "Schools are beginning to offer single-serve plastic containers for milk to improve nutrition while reducing high sugar-based soda consumption. And some leading fast-food restaurants are offering flavored milk, leading to skyrocketing milk consumption by children.

URBANA--Two University of Illinois researchers are betting farmers can increase their profits and protect the environment at the same time by using precision agriculture techniques in applying nitrogen fertilizer to their fields.

"This is a potential 'win-win' situation for everyone--farmers and the environment," said David Bullock, an associate professor of food and agricultural policy in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

URBANA-At least two reasons can be cited for the ample opportunity over the next several months for volatile corn and soybean prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"First, there will be ongoing uncertainty about supply and consumption that will generate the usual movement in prices," said Darrel Good. "Second, there appears to be a fair amount of uncertainty about what corn and soybeans are worth for any given set of supply and consumption forecasts."

URBANA - In 1964, Bill Thompson traveled to the west coast of Africa to build an agricultural university in Sierra Leone from the ground up. At the time, Thompson was a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois. He and his wife Gerry had three children living at home. Their sons Bill and Jack were students at the U of I and daughter Julie was a senior in high school.

URBANA-Illinois corn and soybean producers spent more per acre to grow their crops in 2004 than the previous year, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Costs per acre to produce corn were higher in all different geographic regions in Illinois compared to 2003," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist. "Across the state, total costs per acre to produce corn increased 6 to 9 percent. The main reason was higher costs per acre for fertilizer, seed, and fuel.

URBANA-A career filled with scientific achievement, publications, and mentoring has been capped with election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, an honor that confirms David Baker's status as an "icon" at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), according to one administrator.

URBANA--Prospects for volatile corn and soybean prices over the next several months are likely, reinforced by historical price patterns, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA - The second of six sustainable agriculture tours this year sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois will visit organic research plots at the U of I in the morning followed by an organic lunch and a trip to Jon Cherniss' Blue Moon Farm.

The tour will begin at the organic transitions project site on the U of I South Farms in Champaign at 9:30 on Thursday, June 23.

URBANA-A University of Illinois study of the USDA's corn and soybean production forecasts over a 34-year period concludes that they "perform reasonably well in generating crop production forecast for corn and soybeans." Still, the study finds room for improvement.

URBANA-Illinois farmers enjoyed returns in 2004 that were significantly above the average for the last five years, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Record-breaking corn and soybean yields and strong grain prices early in the year more than offset increased costs," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist who assembled the study based on data from more than 3,000 farms participating in the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association's (FBFM) record-keeping program.

URBANA-For now, the corn market is fairly confident of a large crop in 2005, with December 2005 corn futures establishing a new contract low on May 2. However, November 2005 soybean futures are closer to the upper end of the trading range that spans from $5.20 to $6.501/2, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA-Registration is now open for the June 15-16 Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference sponsored by University of Illinois Extension and like programs at Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota. The conference will be held at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

"This is a great opportunity and others involved in the dairy industry to get important, up-to-date information on nutrition and management that they can take home and put to work," said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

URBANA--A University of Illinois agricultural economist who played a role in shaping a recent assessment of the world's ecosystem and its future believes the study indicates "our children are at risk."

"Those of us who are adults, especially in rich countries, will see some of the effects of current stresses on earth's ecosystems but it is our children who will pay the price of our drawing down of the planet's natural capital, unless we can find ways to live more sustainably," said Gerald Nelson, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Editor's Note: A photo of the winning U of I team is available. Please contact me at: rsampson@uiuc.edu if you are interested. Thanks. Bob Sampson

URBANA-On its first try, a University of Illinois team took top honors in the Fourth Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge held earlier this month. Tying the U of I team for first place in the 27-team event were teams from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and Cornell University.

URBANA--Three professors in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) received the college's top honor, the Paul A. Funk Recognition Award, Tuesday night during the annual awards banquet.

The Funk honorees were Donald P. Briskin of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences; Darrel L. Good of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics; and Marvin R. Paulsen of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

URBANA-Northern Illinois producers may be facing winterkill in their alfalfa fields and two University of Illinois Extension specialists recently discussed the problem and strategies for combating it.

URBANA--Sheep producers will have two opportunities to attend a meeting focusing on lamb markets. The first meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., May 20 at the Effingham-Fayette-Clay Extension office in Effingham and the second is 10 a.m., May 21 at the Farmer City Fairgrounds.

URBANA-The year is off to a record start for cattle producers, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Prospects remain positive for the rest of the year as well, with the big uncertainty being the opening of the Canadian border," said Chris Hurt. "Cattle producers are responding to very favorable returns by holding on to cows longer and by retaining more heifers.

"The next indications of the extent of this build-up will be contained in the USDA's July 22 Cattle On-Feed report."

URBANA-A series of reports on the costs of completing field, harvesting, and forage operations on Illinois farms are now available on the University of Illinois's farmdoc website. The reports also include per hour costs for operating tractors.

URBANA-Four Illinois sheep associations have joined together to sponsor a Junior Preview Show on June 11 in Eureka, said Dick Cobb, University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist.

URBANA - Corn and soybean futures prices rallied sharply from early February through mid-March, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Since then, corn futures have lost most of the gain," said Darrel Good, "but soybean futures are holding on to more than half the gain.

Good's comments came as he reviewed the current states of the corn and soybean markets.

URBANA-An explosion of knowledge about genes along with the mapping of genes have created data that defies handling in the simple models of the past. A University of Illinois researcher is meeting that challenge by helping other scientists develop statistical models that bring order to the "noise" of complex data.

URBANA-A unique program in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is breaking new ground as it brings scientists and public policy specialists together to discuss the impact of science on society.

URBANA-Can a drug used in poultry production provide a better means of treating a condition that afflicts about 25 percent of American women? Romana Nowak, an associate professor of reproductive biology in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences, is seeking the answer with $1.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.

URBANA-The University of Illinois has announced its full schedule of field days at various locations around the state for the 2005 growing season. The sessions are designed to provide growers with updates on the latest research and practical applications for improving field crop production in Illinois.

URBANA-Even though the direction of change in corn and soybean projections in recent USDA reports was expected, there is some lingering uncertainty about those projections, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The USDA's monthly estimates of world supply and consumption prospects for corn and soybeans confirmed expectations," said Darrel Good. "The projection of marketing year ending stocks declined for soybeans and increased for corn."

URBANA-An international research team in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences is pursuing the role of inflammation in clinical depression and how it may interfere with the treatment of individuals receiving immunotherapy for cancer and other diseases. Led by professors Robert Dantzer and Keith Kelley, the work is supported by a $1.7 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

URBANA - Researchers at the University of Illinois are evaluating a modified drainage water management system that dramatically reduces the amount of nutrients moving into rivers and streams.

The modified system has been shown to reduce nitrates flowing from drainage tile into streams by 46 percent and phosphorus by 80 percent. These nutrients are two leading sources of contamination in U.S. rivers and streams.

URBANA-With trend yields in 2005, the intended acreage for all crops listed in recent USDA reports would result in adequate supplies for the 2005-06 marketing years, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Stocks would remain relatively high for corn and soybeans for another year," said Darrel Good. "The market will watch the development of the U.S. crop for any indication of deviation from trend yield. Soybean rust will garner special attention.

URBANA-Producers wondering how to share soybean rust-inhibiting fungicide costs in share-rent arrangements as well as crop insurance coverage for rust-induced losses led University of Illinois Extension to provide answers.

URBANA-For more than 25 years, farmers and their advisers have turned to the Illinois Agronomy Handbook for research-based guidance. Since 1999, the printed book has been supplemented online by the Interactive Agronomy Handbook, which includes interactive decision aids for calculating nitrogen rate, limestone, seed drop rate, replant decisions, stand counting, and yield estimation.

But, now all of the Web site features are available on CD-ROM, eliminating the need for an Internet connection.

URBANA-Robert G. Hoeft, professor of soil fertility, has been appointed as head of the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. He succeeds Gary Heichel, who retired on June 30, 2004.

Hoeft received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Nebraska and his doctorate degree in soil science from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the U of I faculty in 1973.

URBANA-Hog prices are expected to provide strong profits this spring and summer, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Second-quarter prices on a live weight basis are expected to average in the low-to-mid $50s," said Chris Hurt. "Peak prices would be expected in May and June. Some price moderation is anticipated later in the summer, especially by September.

URBANA - In Stelle, Illinois there is a unique community designed with agricultural and economical sustainability in mind. This is the site for the first of six sustainable agriculture tours sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois.

The tour will be held on Wednesday, May 25 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending around 2:00 p.m.

URBANA - Childhood obesity is a national health concern, and affects as many as 20 percent of school children. As part of the battle against obesity, the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois has recently completed a pilot program, called ISOY, to demonstrate the nutritional benefits of including soy in the state's school lunch programs.

The program is a joint effort with the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board and Archer Daniels Midland.

URBANA - Although with today's globe getting smaller due to technology and the speed of communication, there are times when geographic juxtaposition is definitely an asset. Case in point --It's just about a 50 mile drive southwest on I-72 from the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois to Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur. This close proximity as well as their common interests is working in their favor as the two institutions collaborate on projects.

URBANA--On Clay and Wade Mitchell's farm, the tractors steer themselves, the smart sprayer knows when to turn its nozzles on and off, internet is piped into the cabs and you can control the grain-handling facility from anywhere on the farm network.

March 24, 2005

URBANA-An international expert in innovative leadership will keynote University of Illinois Extension's Seventh Annual Statewide Leadership Conference to be held June 8 at the Hawthorn Suites, Champaign.

"Our keynoter, David Beurle, is the founder and managing director of Innovative Leadership Australia," explained Anne Heinze Silvis, U of I Extension program development specialist. "He created this business because of his interest and commitment to rural industries and communities.

March 23, 2005

URBANA-A mother's successful struggle with a changing and challenging agricultural economy has led her daughter to create an educational program now helping farm women in five midwestern states. "Annie's Project" has involved over 300 women in Illinois alone, according to Ruth Hambleton, University of Illinois Extension farm business management and marketing educator based in Mount Vernon.

March 22, 2005

URBANA-A University of Illinois researcher along with two graduate students, David Boltz and Claire Zimmerman, continue their pursuit of a solution to a significant problem facing poultry producers--rooster infertility.

March 21, 2005

URBANA-The 57th annual PDCA Calf Sale has been set for April 2 at the University of Illinois dairy farm. Some 40 dairy calves from four breeds are expected to be on the auction block.

The sale catalogue includes two Ayrshires, seven Brown Swiss, two Milking Shorthorns, seven Jerseys, and 23 Holsteins.

To obtain a catalogue or further information, write Gene McCoy at 1207 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, or call (217) 333-2624 and ask for Evonne.

-30-

March 21, 2005

URBANA-USDA reports to be released on March 31 will bring the U.S. corn and soybean markets, now heavily influenced by Brazilian crop prospects and speculative trading activity, back into focus, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA--The problem of obesity, especially among children, has risen to near epidemic proportions in recent years. To help address this problem, the University of Illinois is sponsoring a forum on May 25 and 26, 2005, which will examine the role that soy foods can play in managing obesity.

The forum will bring together, food industry representatives, health-care professionals, dietitians, and university scientists to review the latest research on how soy and its components may alleviate the long-term health problems related to obesity..

March 14, 2005

URBANA-Will the recent rally in the soybean, wheat and corn markets turn out to be a "bubble" or just the beginning of a period of high prices, asked a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The recent rally in soybean, wheat, and corn prices has been a bit of surprise, both in the timing and the magnitude of the rally, particularly for soybeans," said Darrel Good. "Some perspective on supply and demand relationships might be helpful in assessing the current rally."

March 11, 2005

URBANA-Poultry producers who feed soybean meal to their chickens face a twin problem. First, the birds do not receive much of the meal's potential nutritional value and, second, the waste can create environmental problems because of high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. But a University of Illinois study is finding ways to, so to speak, kill two birds with one stone.

March 10, 2005

Source: Contact: Bob Sampson Extension Communications Specialist Phone (217) 244-0225; rsampson@uiuc.edu

URBANA-A four-year research project at the University of Illinois examining ways to enhance soybean meal's use as livestock feed is winding down with some impressive potential applications for producers and processors, said George Fahey, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and one of the lead researchers.

URBANA -- Late season dryness in the Brazilian soybean crop and the market's quick price response has provided an unexpected pricing opportunity for U.S. soybean producers, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

Urbana - Did you ever have a teacher tell you, "You're doing pretty well, but you could do better..."?

That's what Bob Frazee, a natural resources educator with University of Illinois Extension, has to say about the efforts to improve water quality in the state of Illinois.

When asked to grade the state's progress in improving water quality, Frazee said, "I'd probably give it a 'B' rating. Illinois is ahead of the average, but there's still a lot that needs to be done, and that's why I wouldn't give it an 'A'."

As part of Severe Weather Safety Week in March, Safe Electricity cautions everyone to be mindful of the electrical hazards that storms and flooding can leave in their wake, and offers vital safety tips to avoid electrocution and serious injury when dealing with the aftermath of a major storm or disaster.

"The danger does not end when the storm does," says Molly Hall, Executive Director of Safe Electricity. "People can be hurt or killed by hazards left behind. It's wise to be cautious in any clean-up effort."

"History suggests that some further seasonal strength may be expected going into early May," said Chris Hurt. "However, opening of live cattle and beef trade this spring and early summer from Canada may cause lean hog futures to increase less than normal.

"Each pork producer needs to weigh the current pricing opportunities against the threats, but the important message is that producers should be watching that 'tempting carrot' closely and be prepared to take a few bites in the next couple of months."

URBANA - Today's technology gives us the tools to track grain all the way from a farmer's combine to the cereal box on the grocer's shelf. We can also test grain for a variety of attributes like starch and protein content. But although these tests can be done in a lab or at a manufacturing facility, it's not so easily done further up the chain, say at the grain elevator, on the farm, or within the transportation system.

URBANA--The 2005 American Forage and Grassland Council Conference will be held from June 11 to June 15, 2005 in the Bloomington, Illinois area. The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) is a unique organization whose membership consists of forage producers, forage industry company personnel, university staff, and government agencies throughout the country.

URBANA--If soybean rust arrives in Illinois, many growers will be forced to make widespread applications of fungicides for the first time during the coming growing season. As a result, it is essential for them to become familiar with the regulations governing the use of those products, according to Scott Bretthauer, application technology specialist with University of Illinois Extension.

Editor's note: High resolution, downloadable digital photos are available for publication with this article at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/dudley/

URBANA--Timely use of fungicides is currently the only tool to manage yield losses from the effects of Asian soybean rust. Other integrated pest management techniques, such as manipulating planting dates, rotating with other crops, and varying row widths, have not been proven to affect the course of the disease. There are also no available soybean varieties with resistance to this disease.

February 21, 2005

URBANA--U.S. soybean producers have at least three courses of action as concerns about the Brazilian crop continue to impact the market, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

There is growing evidence that suggests climate is changing in the Great Lakes region. Already winters are getting shorter, annual average temperatures are growing warmer, the duration of lake ice cover is decreasing as air and water temperatures rise, and heavy rainstorms are becoming more common.

February 18, 2005

URBANA--The 2005 Sheep Shearing School will be held April 6-7 at the Livestock Pavilion on the Western Illinois University campus in Macomb, said Dick Cobb, University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist.

"Students will learn to properly maintain equipment, as well as to shear," he said. "The school will be limited to 24 students and enrollments will be accepted in the order they are received.

URBANA - The Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois promotes research and provides outreach opportunities of a wide spectrum of alternative farming practices as well as ways to provide an adequate and dependable farm income. This year's schedule of six sustainable agriculture tours sponsored by the program represents this diversity of topics.

URBANA--The arrival of soybean rust in the United States will present farmers with a number of uncertainties about exactly how to respond to the problem for the upcoming growing season, according to a recent study by Peter Goldsmith, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, and Gary Schnitkey, associate professor in the same department.

URBANA--Uncertainty surrounding South American soybean crop size and U.S. production potential is apparently enough for now to offset the impact of current large supplies, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

URBANA--Before soybean rust can become a problem in Illinois, the pathogen that causes the disease will likely overwinter in the southern United States, Mexico, or the Caribbean region. From there, the spores must be blown by the wind into Illinois for a widespread outbreak to occur.

URBANA--University of Illinois nanotechnologist Graciela Wild Padua is intrigued by the bricklike shape of the corn zein molecule. She thinks it's particularly suited as a building block for tiny structures small enough to be measured in nanometers: cages, for example, that could carry biocompounds to targeted sites in the human body or scaffolds on which to grow neat sheets of skin cells instead of bulky clumps of tissue.

Increasingly, Spanish-speaking workers are playing greater roles in the swine and dairy industries in Illinois. One result is that traditional University of Illinois Extension programs that help ag workers and managers do better jobs need to be re-tooled and offered in Spanish.

URBANA--What influences a child to choose a career on the family farm, and when is that decision made? A new University of Illinois study of pre-teen farm youth suggests that the foundations for this life choice are set early and that maternal influence, rather than paternal expectations, may be key.

Urbana - Most parents don't send their children to college to learn how to race cars, but that's just what some freshmen at the University of Illinois are doing this semester.

However, the goal of this particular race is distance, not speed, and the cars are only 10 inches long. Students in Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) 100 learn some basics of engineering design hands-on when they construct and race tiny "micro steam" cars fueled by ethanol, said Al Hansen, a U of I agricultural engineer who assists the class instructor, Loren Bode, with the project.

URBANA--Illinois farmers will need to become very familiar with many different families of fungicides should Asian soybean rust appear in Illinois next year. With the possible increased use of fungicides comes a lot of questions about exactly how the active materials work against the pathogen that cause Asian soybean rust and when each type should be applied.

URBANA--The ability to successfully apply fungicides will be critical in dealing with an outbreak of soybean rust during the coming growing season. Although further research is needed to determine the best application procedures, results from work done on other crops and from practical experience in South America can provide some useful guidelines, according to Scott Bretthauer, application technology specialist with University of Illinois Extension.

Note: Several high-resolution digital photos and captions are available to download at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/news%20photos/bohn-white/.

Editor's note: Two high-resolution image files of Neil Knobloch using The Farming Game in his classroom at the University of Illinois can be found at this site for download:

http://images.itcs.uiuc.edu/farming_game/farming_game.zip

URBANA--Warm snap, you're in the field two weeks early--collect $1,000. Market collapses--cut livestock check in half.

URBANA-- Scientists in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College of Engineering (COE) at the University of Illinois are collaborating in research that will allow them to utilize the latest applications in nanotechnology to find solutions for some of the most pressing problems facing Illinois agriculture, including disease management.

Handing down the family farm through the generations is not a simple process. Planning is critical for both the farm owner and the executor of the farm estate. To help in the planning, University of Illinois Extension is offering a Training for Executors of Farm Estates seminar. The seminar is offered at three Illinois locations: Mt. Vernon on March 7, Springfield on March 15, and Princeton on March 16. Each program runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.

January 7, 2005

URBANA - A crucial deadline looms on the horizon for many Illinois livestock producers.

By February of 2006, new federal environmental rules will require many producers (large and small) to have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. So the University of Illinois is teaming with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to offer workshops - and debut a new resource - that will tell producers exactly who will need a permit, how to apply, what is required and when the applications are due.

December 14, 2004

URBANA--An intensive course concentrating on the scientific basis of modern swine production technology will be offered June 12-18 by the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences.

December 14, 2004

URBANA--Recommendations for use of a feed additive for dairy cows have been made by a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist. Mike Hutjens said proper use of the additive, monensin (commercially known as rumensin), should increase feed efficiency, improve protein status, and reduce bloat risk.

December 8, 2004

In the world of medicine, research on embryonic stem cells offers the possibility of curing fatal and debilitating diseases. In the world of aquaculture, embryonic stem cell research may enhance production and reduce environmental risks.

December 8, 2004

In the world of medicine, research on embryonic stem cells offers the possibility of curing fatal and debilitating diseases. In the world of aquaculture, embryonic stem cell research may enhance production and reduce environmental risks.

Dec. 1, 2004

URBANA--The latest perspectives on critical issues in crop production and protection for corn and soybean growers will highlight a series of regional conferences scheduled at six sites during Jan. 11-20, 2005.

Date: December 7, 2004

URBANA -- The organic food market grew to $23 billion in the United States in 2002. That figure is expected to grow higher in 2004. In fact, according to data from the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales will likely increase 21 percent per year by the end of 2007.

Opportunities in the organic food market is one of the topics that will be presented at the organic conference on January 12 and 13, 2005 at the Holiday Inn in Normal.

December 7, 2004

URBANA--University of Illinois Extension projections indicate returns will be lower and costs higher for Illinois corn and soybean producers in 2005. The full report, "2005 Corn and Soybean Revenue and Cost Estimates," is available online through farmdoc at http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/newsletters/fefo04_19/fefo04_19.html .

December 6, 2004

URBANA--Illinois farmers can get help in determining how adding more corn in 2005 to their corn-soybean crop rotations will impact their enterprises. Methods for evaluating the economic impact of the move is contained in a University of Illinois Extension report, "The Economics of Adding More Corn to Corn-Soybean Rotations," available on farmdoc in the Farm Economics: Facts and Opinions section.

November 29, 2004

URBANA--An opportunity for producers to capitalize on the latest dairy innovations close to home is the focus of University of Illinois Extension's 2005 Dairy Days program.

"Defining Decisions is the theme of the meetings planned throughout Illinois in January," said Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist. "Each meeting will feature advice from specialists on health, management, economics, and feed strategies."

November 23, 2005

Urbana - Basic drainage design, new design information, drainage law and working with a contractor are among the host of topics that will be addressed at the 2005 Illinois Regional "What's New in Drainage?" workshops early next year.

Four regional seminars will be held across the state in February, with speakers from the University of Illinois discussing a variety of topics, including:

Nov. 16, 2004

URBANA--Along with updates on the latest developments in crop protection, the University of Illinois' 2005 Crop Protection Technology Conference will feature a keynote session on climate change and several specialized sessions on Asian soybean rust.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, January 5, and Thursday, January 6, 2005, at the Illini Union on the U of I campus.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Information on individual workshops follows press release.

November 15, 2004

Urbana - Manure storage capacity and containment of feedlot runoff are issues that plague many livestock facilities, large and small. This year's Certified Livestock Manager Training (CLMT) workshops in Illinois will address those issues and assist producers in their efforts to comply with the latest round of environmental regulations affecting the livestock industry.

Nov. 10, 2004

URBANA--A new cookbook that presents the many ways that soy can be used as a healthy and delicious ingredient in quick meals suitable for the average American kitchen has been published by the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois.

This illustrated, full-color publication entitled Soy for the Last Minute Chef is the fourth in an ongoing cookbook series, Soy in the American Kitchen.

November 5, 2004

URBANA--Registration is now open for a series of December workshops to help producers address decision-making in a risky environment. Farm Income 2005 is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, with funding by the USDA's Risk Management Agency.

Nov. 5, 2004

URBANA--The University of Illinois has released the 2004 results from its variety testing program for corn and soybeans. The data from these latest trials are available in both printed form and on the Internet at http://vt.cropsci.uiuc.edu/.

November 4, 2004

URBANA--Programs on scrapie, accelerated lambing, and the future of purebred sheep in the United States are on the agenda of Dec. 4's 2004 Sheep Industry Day at the University of Illinois. The event will be held from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. in Room 131 of the Animal Sciences Laboratory on the U of I campus.

Registration for the event is $10, said Dick Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist.

Date: October 27, 2004

URBANA -- An organic conference has been scheduled for January 12 and 13, 2005 at the Holiday Inn in Normal. The conference is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension and the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the U of I.

The first day of the conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. and feature general presentations on organic certification, marketing and a panel discussion of farmers.

October 26, 2004

URBANA--An Illinois Farrowing Conference has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8 at the University of Illinois Extension Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. This program will focus on the delivery of information to help people improve the performance of sows and piglets in the farrowing barn according to Rob Knox, U of I Extension swine reproductive specialist.

October 22, 2004

Urbana - "What's mine is yours" might be a good personal philosophy, but landowners downstream who are on the receiving end of soil eroding from streambanks upstream probably don't appreciate the sentiment - or the sediment.

In recent years, streambank erosion has become a serious threat to land along many streams in Illinois (and throughout the nation) due to increasing volumes and velocities of surface water runoff from both agricultural and urban areas.

October 19, 2004

URBANA--If soybean rust arrives in the Midwest, it could cost Illinois growers from $58 million to more than $102 million per year in combined spraying costs and yield losses, according to a new study by Peter Goldsmith, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois.

October 12, 2004

Urbana - Thanks to the efforts of students from the University of Illinois, sugar cane cutters in South Africa could soon be using a better machete.

Nine students from the U of I traveled to South Africa this past summer on a unique study tour sponsored by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). They were teamed with students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to work on a variety of engineering design projects that dealt with everything from machetes to irrigation.

October 11, 2004

URBANA--The University of Illinois is positioned to help lead agriculture from the mechanization century into the automation age--the age of intelligent machinery, said K.C. Ting, the new head of the U of I Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. He takes over for Loren Bode, who stepped down after 11 years as department head.

Date: October 6, 2004

URBANA - Developing a petroleum-free fuel from corn bi-products is one of the goals of a new research project at the University of Illinois. Eight research laboratories will pool their expertise, attacking the problems from different directions in order to work to improve the efficiency of bioconversion of plant fibers into fuels and other value added products.

October 5, 2004

Urbana - This year’s bin-buster harvest is making the use of temporary grain storage a critical issue for the farming community.

“We’ve got record crops coming out,” said Jay Solomon, University of Extension educator. “Yield is up this year, anywhere from 20 to 50 bushels per acre, and grain storage is filling up quickly.”

October 4, 2004

Editor's Note: A high resolution downloadable digital photo is available for use with this story at http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/news/news%20photos/miscanthus/

URBANA- This year's Dudley Smith Day will be held at Rodney Sloan's residence and farm just off of Route 29 on 600 N between Taylorville and Pana 9:00 a.m. until noon, Wednesday, November 3.

October 4, 2004

Students in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois are leading an effort to bring back a collegewide event next spring – but the new event will be very different from the ACES Open House that was held annually until 2003.

ExplorACES will be held on Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12, 2005, on the U of I campus in Urbana, and will coincide with the annual College of Engineering Open House.

The name ExplorACES was chosen by students in a contest held late last semester.

October 4, 2004

Urbana -- It was thought that as farm chemicals start degrading in contact with soil they become less toxic, but new research from the University of Illinois, published in the August 15, 2004 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that certain pesticide can actually become more toxic in contact with reduced, iron-bearing clays commonly found in soils.

Date: October 1, 2004

URBANA -- Grocery store owners, chefs, farmers and business professionals who have experienced the challenges of direct marketing their food products will share their expertise at a conference entitled, "Marketing Strategies for Consumer-Driven Agriculture" on Thursday, November 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The conference will be held at the Interstate Center in Bloomington, Illinois.

Sept. 28, 2004

URBANA--Continued worldwide demand for fertilizer could result in limited supplies for the 2005 growing season, according to Bob Hoeft, soil fertility specialist with University of Illinois Extension.

"With potentially short supplies, it is important for producers to make the best use of available fertilizer to ensure maximum production on their fields," Hoeft said. "Growers who have not had a recent soil test should consider having a sample from each two and half acres of their fields analyzed for pH, phosphorus, and potassium."

Date: September 23, 2004

URBANA -- Washington State University, in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Oregon State University, and Oregon Tilth, is offering a satellite broadcast examining the basics of organic livestock production and the opportunities it presents.

The broadcast will take place on Friday, October 29, and can be viewed at several locations from noon to 2:30 p.m.

September 23, 2004

URBANA--Two nationally known University of Illinois researchers will be speakers at an Oct. 29-31 conference at Michigan State University focusing on use of livestock species as biomedical models. Janice Bahr and Harris Lewin, both in the Department of Animal Sciences, will be among several leading researchers making presentations.

The workshop seeks to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas between scientists and federal administrators who oversee funding of agricultural and biomedical research.

September 22, 2004

URBANA - University of Illinois Extension specialists are working to develop a manure application system that will enable producers to calculate and record how much manure they spread and where they spread it - at a reasonable price.

"We're building a low-cost yet effective system that will incorporate a hand-held, consumer-available GPS (global positioning system) unit, a portable computer and mapping software such as FarmWorks or ArcPad," said Jay Solomon, an Extension educator from East Peoria.

Date: September 21, 2004

Editor's note: High resolution, downloadable digital photos are available for publication with this article at http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/news/news%20photos/tedhymowitz/

URBANA - Searching for a soybean that doesn't contain the P34 protein which is responsible for allergic reactions in 6 to 8 percent of children is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But the "needle" has been found.

Sept. 20, 2004

URBANA--Soybean growers across Illinois faced greater than normal outbreaks of sudden death syndrome (SDS) during the current growing season, according to a recent field survey by researchers from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

The survey is conducted in late August and early September of each year to determine the levels of various diseases as the soybean crop heads toward harvest. Primary funding is provided by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.

Date: September 20, 2004

Editor's note: High resolution downloadable photos are available for use with this story at http://images.itcs.uiuc.edu/studyabroad/

URBANA -- In the summer of 1979, 37 college students from six major universities including the University of Illinois traveled together, touring 16 European countries. One of those students was Garry Herzog, current owner of Prairieland Feeds in Savoy, Illinois. Today, 25 years later, what difference did that trip make to him?

September 17, 2004

URBANA--Higher milk prices should put Illinois dairy producers back in the black in 2004 but they are also likely to face higher feed costs, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Total returns for Illinois dairy producers should exceed total economic costs in 2004," said Dale Lattz, a U of I Extension farm management specialist and author of the study, "Costs to Produce Milk in Illinois--2003."

September 16, 2004

URBANA--Illinois hog producers should experience a profitable 2004 but face a difficult question as to whether the industry will be profitable over the next five years, said a University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist.

September 15, 2004

URBANA--Illinois beef producers should find 2004 profitable but may have a hard time equaling the record returns of 2003, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Returns to cattle feeders increased significantly in 2003 compared to 2002 and were at record levels," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist, who authored the study, "Costs to Produce Beef in Illinois--2003."

Higher total returns were due mainly to higher market cattle prices, Lattz noted.

Date: September 15, 2004

Editor's note: A high resolution, downloadable digital photo is available for publication with this article at http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/news/news%20photos/boerngen/

September 13, 2004

URBANA--An internationally recognized expert on agricultural land and environmental legal issues has been named inaugural holder of the Bock Chair in Agricultural Law in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Margaret Rosso Grossman assumed the Chair at the beginning of fall semester.

September 8, 2004

URBANA--Two courses dealing with key elements in dairy management will be offered this fall through the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences' Dairy Internet On-Line program.

September 3, 2004

Harvest season can yield higher numbers of electrocution, shock and burn injuries. Nationwide, an average 60 agricultural workers are electrocuted and hundreds more injured in electrical accidents each year. In Illinois, statistics compiled by the University of Illinois indicate 24 electrocution deaths have occurred on farms in the past seven years, according to U of I Extension researcher, Chip Petrea.

September 03, 2004

Urbana - Commercial manure applicators from several Midwestern states are joining forces with Extension specialists to develop a voluntary training program that will help assure environmentally safe and neighbor-friendly manure handling throughout the region.

September 1, 2004

URBANA--A proposed purchase of a large farm credit association by a Dutch bank raises a number of questions and concerns, said a University of Illinois professor of agricultural finance.

September 2, 2004

URBANA--Twenty-five 4-H and FFA members from Illinois were awarded post-secondary education scholarships in the 2004 Superior Young Producer Award program at the Illinois State Fair. The program is conducted by University of Illinois Extension.

"Each of the top five finishers in the dairy, beef, swine, sheep, and horse categories received a scholarship," said Dave Fischer, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in Edwardsville who supervised the program.

September 1, 2004

URBANA--Like the weather, corn is everywhere and, as is often the case with atmospheric conditions, it is always not thoroughly understood. A new University of Illinois Extension website will ensure that third through fifth graders have a good understanding of an important Illinois economic resource.

Aug. 27, 2004

URBANA--Sudden death syndrome (SDS), which is caused by the fungus Furarium solani, has emerged in recent years as a major disease problem for soybean growers in Illinois. Despite the increased availability of new resistant soybean varieties, the information for growers to make decisions on which seed to plant has been limited by the available methods of testing for this disease.

August 26, 2004

URBANA--A new USDA study reveals that the average value of Illinois farm real estate was at its highest level in history in 2004, said a University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist.

"The average farm real estate value for Illinois in 2004 was $2,610 per acre, the highest on record," said Dale Lattz. "This includes the value of all land and buildings."

August 25, 2004

URBANA--Producers and landowners need to use much lower prices when projecting returns for the 2005 cropping than those used for 2004 projections, said a University of Illinois Extension farm financial management specialist.

"These prices suggest using caution when making cash rent bids for 2005," said Gary Schnitkey.

August 24, 2004

URBANA--The corn and soybean markets will continue to focus on U.S. crop conditions--for the present, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Concerns about crop size may offer producers an unexpected opportunity for additional sales as harvest approaches," said Darrel Good. "Longer term, corn prices appear to have additional upside potential because of strong demand, lack of competitors, and the need for the U.S. to produce another large crop in 2005.

August 17, 2004

URBANA--A group of USDA reports recently issued contained a few surprises for corn, soybeans and wheat, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The forecasts were generally negative for corn and wheat prices and somewhat positive for soybean prices, at least in the short run," said Darrel Good, referring to the USDA's Aug. 12 Crop Production report and the monthly estimates of world supply and demand prospects.

Aug. 16, 2004

URBANA--Farmers across the Midwest could soon have high-yielding commercial varieties with effective resistance to soybean aphids as the result of a major breakthrough at the University of Illinois. After nearly three years of effort, a team of researchers at the U of I has identified a single-gene source of aphid resistance that can be easily crossed into elite commercial varieties.

August 11, 2004

URBANA--Five University of Illinois animal scientists have received major awards from their peers for teaching, research and outreach to industry. Janice Bahr, Geoff Dahl, Walter Hurley, Floyd McKeith, and James Pettigrew received the awards at a professional meeting earlier this summer in St. Louis.

August 10, 2004

URBANA--Corn and soybean markets have rapidly incorporated expectations for large U.S. crops this year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"As concluded last week, the markets appear to be expecting the USDA's August 12 production forecast to be near 10.8 billion bushels for corn and in excess of three billion bushels for soybeans," said Darrel Good. "Forecasts from the private sector are in that range for corn, but a bit lower for soybeans."

August 10, 2004

Live power line demonstrations sponsored by the Illinois Electric Council’s Safe Electricity program will reveal some electrifying information at the 2004 Illinois State Fair. Household electrical current at 120 volts is the number one electrical killer. Electrical accidents and fires kill more than a thousand people and injure tens of thousands each year. And the vast majority of these tragedies are preventable.

Date: August 9, 2004

URBANA - The Eckert family farms are an excellent example of a successful and creative agritourism operation. Their farm in Millstadt is the location of a tour on Friday, October 15th sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program.

August 9, 2004

URBANA--Technologies that will help beef producers supply the demand for high quality grading beef will be the topic of a University of Illinois Extension conference to be offered at two locations later this month. The program will be offered in Benton on Aug. 24 and Quincy on Aug. 25.

August 3, 2004

URBANA--In recent years, crop ratings have tended to decline from mid-July through the end of the season, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist voicing a note of caution amid a chorus of bumper crop predictions.

"Based on a number of weather, disease, and inspect problems now being reported, that pattern of decline may be experienced again this year," said Darrel Good. "This year, then, does not seem to be a repeat of 1994, a year in which mid-season predictions for good corn and soybean crops held up.

July 30, 2004

URBANA--The deadline is quickly approaching for Illinois farmers to begin using new state-mandated slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblems on their farm machinery.

A state law passed three years ago requires the use of brighter, longer-lasting SMV emblems on all vehicles operated on Illinois public roads and designed and adapted exclusively for agricultural, horticultural and livestock operations. The new emblems must be in place by September 1, said Bob Aherin, University of Illinois Extension safety specialist.

July 29, 2004

URBANA?Tuesday, August 17 has been set as the date for the 2004 Field Day at University of Illinois? Northwest Research Center (NWRC) at Monmouth. Tours of research plots will begin at 8:00 a.m. The last tour will depart at 9:00 a.m., and each tour will take about two hours to complete.

July 27, 2004

URBANA--A continuing drop in cattle numbers is a main factor in the rise of prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"Over the last seven months, beef producers have witnessed one of the wildest swings ever in the outlook for their industry," said Chris Hurt. "From the emotional depths of the Mad Cow Disease announcement on Dec. 23, 2003 to the current bright outlook, they could hardly have written a better turnaround."

Date: July 20, 2004

URBANA - On Wednesday, September 15, a western Illinois tour will feature stops at several locations including Brooks Ranch -- Lake Linda, Blooming Prairie Bison, and Baxter’s Vineyard and Winery. The tour is sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program.

July 19, 2004

URBANA--There are worms in our sewers and they're trying to save the world.

In a brand-new adventure book for kids from University of Illinois Extension, the Secret Agent Worms are on a mission, but not an impossible one. They're exploring the movement of polluted run-off into our storm sewer systems--a hot issue that lies at the heart of their new book, "Beneath the City of Ooze."

July 19, 2004

URBANA--The current price decline indicates the soybean market appears to be making the transition from an environment of reduced supply and high prices to one of abundance, and perhaps surplus, and low prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

July 16, 2004

URBANA--A former USDA official, who also served with the World Bank and as Purdue University's Dean of Agriculture, has been appointed the first Leonard and Lila Gardner/Illinois Farm Bureau Family of Companies Chair in Agricultural Policy in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Robert L. Thompson will begin his new duties on Aug. 1.

Date: July 14, 2004

Editor's note: Downloadable high resolution digital photos are available for publication with this article at http://w3.aces.uiuc.edu/itcs/photo/pickup/larson/

URBANA -- A ring of horizontal pipes 70 feet in diameter seem to hover over a soybean field on the South Farms at the University of Illinois. The pipes release ozone into the wind as it blows across the soybean plot simulating the higher concentration of ozone that could be a reality for our atmosphere in the year 2050.

July 14, 2004

URBANA--Agronomy Day 2004 at the University of Illinois is scheduled for Thursday, August 19. Besides tours and tent displays highlighting the latest developments in agricultural research, this year's event will feature special ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of research on the South Farms.

July 13, 2004

URBANA--From its creation as a University of Illinois department in 1902 through its merger into the Department of Animal Sciences in 1985, dairy science has been recognized with nearly 100 awards by national, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and campus.

July 13, 2004

URBANA--One of the highlights of the 2004 Illinois State Fair Junior Beef Show is the Performance Cow-Calf Class. This class provides the most expensive and elaborate award presented at the Illinois State Fair. In addition, it provides one of the most lucrative premiums offered at the fair.

July 12, 2004

Note: Photos of the U of I Sheep Barn are available at the following URL: http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/news/SheepBarn.htm

In an attempt to preserve an historic barn, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is seeking proposals for the removal of the 90’x 35’ east wing of its 1915 Sheep Barn located near the intersection of St. Mary’s Road and 1st Street in Champaign.

July 13, 2004

URBANA--In the absence of major surprises in the USDA July reports, the market will continue to focus on crop progress and the rate of domestic soybean use, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"With December corn futures near $2.50, the market is fully reflecting a very large crop," said Darrel Good. "November soybean futures at $6.40 reflect a fair amount of skepticism that the crop will reach 2.94 billion bushels."

July 13, 2004

URBANA--Dairy and beef producers need to get ready to chop corn silage for optimal yield and quality due to the crop's rapid rate of maturity this season, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

July 8, 2004

Editor's note: A downloadable high resolution digital photo is available for publication with this article at http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/news/India.htm

URBANA - In a small village in India called Badakamandara, women make disposable plates from leaves and grind spices by hand. As early as December, electricity may be coming to the village providing light so the women can work four more hours in the evening and generating energy to run power presses and grinders.

July 8, 2004

URBANA--The National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois has been working closely for several years with the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board on the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program.

July 6, 2004

URBANA--Production prospects will be the dominant factor among many influencing corn and soybean prices over the next several weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

July 6, 2004

URBANA--Farm equipment in the future might very well resemble the robot R2D2 of Star Wars fame. But instead of careening through a galaxy far, far away, these ag robots might be wobbling down a corn row, scouting for insects, blasting weeds and taking soil tests.

July 2, 2004

URBANA--Justin Sexten, a recent University of Illinois Ph.D. in animal sciences with many years experience working with beef producers, has been named to a new Extension position based in the Mount Vernon Extension Center. He began work as Extension Specialist, Animal Systems/Beef, on June 28.

July 1, 2004

Urbana – The Illini Pullers may not draw the kind of attention given to Fighting Illini football, but this team of University of Illinois students still competes in contests that call for similar displays of pure power.

However, this is tractor power — ¼-scale tractor power, to be exact.

June 29, 2004

June 29, 2004 Urbana - The state's premier soil and water conservation event of the year is coming to central Illinois this August.

The Illinois Conservation Expo 2004 will be held August 24-26 on the farm of Richard and Robert Lasser in Anchor, Illinois, located in McLean County. The statewide event is a showcase for the construction and exhibition of conservation and land improvement practices and equipment.

June 29, 2004

URBANA--When it comes to pork production industries, pigs aren't necessarily the same world-wide, said a Scottish animal science lecturer and researcher at the University of Illinois during a week-long course in pork production technology.

June 29, 2004

URBANA--Sunshine has replaced gloom in the outlook for pork producers, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The pork industry's profit outlook has made a 180-degree turn in the past three months when hog prices were expected to be much lower and feed prices much higher," said Chris Hurt. "This is a welcome turn for hog producers."

Hurt's comments came as he reviewed the past quarter.

June 25, 2004

URBANA--From a meeting that attracted 27 farm managers to the University of Illinois in 1929, the output of that event--the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers--has grown to 2,300 members throughout the United States and Canada. The story of that growth and the Society's service to rural America is recounted in a new book by Harold Guither, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the U of I.

June 24, 2004

URBANA--An Illinois Supreme Court decision has created a difficult choice for rural landowners who have selectively opened their property for recreational uses such as hunting, fishing, hiking, sledding or snowmobiling, two University of Illinois Extension Agricultural Law Specialists point out.

Date: June 23, 2004

Editor's note: High resolution digital photos are available for use in publications by contacting Debra Levey Larson via email at dlarson@uiuc.edu.

URBANA - It can be a challenge for vegetable farmers to sell their produce when they only have a couple of bushels of cabbages or tomatoes. Roadside stands and farmers' markets are options, but Amish farmers may not have a lot of customers driving by their farms and they can't transport their produce long distances in horse-drawn buggies.

June 21, 2004

URBANA--Corn and soybean prices will continue to react to weather and crop conditions, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist, who added that two USDA reports to be released at the end of June could have some influence on price.

"The market will closely monitor the USDA's weekly reports of crop progress and crop conditions to assess yield potential of the 2004 corn and soybean crops," said Darrel Good. "For corn, progress is well ahead of normal in many areas with tasseling well under way for the early-planted crops.

June 21, 2004

URBANA--Many farmers are swamped with all of the data they collect from yield monitors and field maps. "But if farmers have no way to use this information, it means nothing," said Qin Zhang, an agricultural engineer with the University of Illinois.

To solve the problem of data overload, U of I researchers are developing a wireless information management system that analyzes data and makes decisions automatically.

Date: June 17, 2004

URBANA - JoAnn and Dennis Dickman are proud to tell people that the chickens they raise on their farm near Herscher breathe fresh air, scratch on fresh grass and eat Dickman's own mix of grain every day. "They're not cooped up in a building under lights and they're not given any hormones, steroids or antibiotics," said Dennis Dickman.

Dickman's unique pastured poultry farm is the location for a tour sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program.

Date: June 15, 2004

URBANA - The increasing popularity of farm-based entertainment in recent years has caught the attention of the traditional agriculture as well as tourism industries. Farm tours, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, bed and breakfasts and recreational hunting are being developed into significant profit-generating enterprises on farms throughout the country.

June 15, 2004

URBANA--Corn prices may become a little less volatile than experienced in recent weeks, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"But corn prices are still expected to trade in a wide range," said Darrel Good. "It appears that soybean prices will continue to be quite volatile, with the most strength in old crop prices."

June 11, 2004

URBANA--Producers interested in making their pastures more fertile and profitable may want to consider attending one of three University of Illinois Extension Pasture Specie Selection and Management seminars to be held on July 15-16. The July 15 seminars will be held in Carrollton and Springfield and the July 16 seminar in Lewistown.

June 8, 2004

URBANA--Many insist that the current situation regarding China and soybeans featuring weak demand, low feed prices, poor crush margins, and a glut of soybeans is only temporary, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

June 3, 2004

URBANA--Tractors now have 20/20 vision, thanks to University of Illinois researchers.

For several years, U of I agricultural engineers have been mounting cameras on tractors and using them to observe the terrain and help steer the machine--without anyone behind the wheel. However, their first automatically guided tractors used monocular cameras (cameras with only one lens) to help steer, but now they have taken machine vision to a new level. Their automatically guided tractor is equipped with a stereo-vision camera mounted in front.

Date: June 2, 2004

URBANA - A subdivision of homes may have a neighborhood strip mall with a grocery store, but Prairie Crossing Conservation Community has its own neighborhood farm -- Prairie Crossing Organic Farm. On Wednesday, August 4, from 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., a tour sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program will visit the farm in Grayslake, Illinois.

June 1, 2004

Every once in a while something good happens to hog producers. Facing a potential feed cost crisis in the early spring, financial relief came in the form of sharply lower feed prices and surging cash hog prices since early April. Now the question, will this good fortune continue?

June 1, 2004

URBANA--As part of the battle against obesity, the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois has launched a pilot program to demonstrate the benefits of including soy in the state's school lunch programs. The program will be a joint effort with the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board and Archer Daniels Midland.

Date: May 25, 2004

URBANA - Manure and landscape waste can be combined to create another stream of income for livestock farmers. That's the topic of a tour sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program. The tour is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Mike and Pat Dumoulin's farm in Hampshire, Illinois.

May 25, 2004

URBANA--With support from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Protection Service, researchers at the University of Illinois are using sophisticated computer modeling to track the spread of the fungal disease known as Asian soybean rust.

May 25, 2004

URBANA--Both corn and soybean prices are expected to remain volatile and perhaps in a wide trading range during the remainder of the growing season, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Such volatility will provide additional opportunities for pricing a portion of the 2004 crop," said Darrel Good. Good's comments came as he reviewed the "twists and turns in market fundamentals for corn and soybeans."

May 21, 2004

URBANA--Dairy producers need to fasten their seatbelts as all signs point to a rollercoaster pattern for prices, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist in reviewing the state of the industry with the approach of June Dairy Month.

May 21, 2004

URBANA--Americans are seeing a change in the types of dairy products available to them, including foods that help the body's immune system and are deployed against skin conditions, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"There are a number of exciting things going on in the dairy industry," said Mike Hutjens as he reviewed it on the approach of June Dairy Month.

May 20, 2004

URBANA--Tiny bioactive soy proteins called peptides may have a number of different health benefits, and Elvira de Mejia, a University of Illinois professor of food science and human nutrition, may soon be able to predict each peptide's biological activity.

So far, she has identified peptides that lower blood pressure and cholesterol and others that may aid in preventing cancer. She has even identified an "anti-obesity" peptide that causes a feeling of fullness and slows the rate of stomach emptying to impede weight gain.

May 17, 2004

Urbana -- Following early April highs, corn, soybean and wheat prices have declined sharply due to “technical factors” as well as some fundamental factors according to U of I Extension Economist Darrel Good.

May 12, 2004

URBANA--Several upgraded features, as well as a new name, have been added to the Web-based version of the Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin published by specialists from University of Illinois Extension. The bulletin provides the latest information on pest situations and crop development issues for producers of major field crops in Illinois each week during the growing season.

May 11, 2004

URBANA -- 2004 appears to be shaping up as another year of good profit potential for Illinois wheat producers as well as for producers of soft red winter wheat.

"Current cash bids in southern Illinois are in the $3.60 to $3.70 range, significantly higher than the cash prices in June and July of 2003. In addition, current prospects point to good yield potential for the 2004 crop. As of early May, 88 percent of the Illinois wheat crop was rated in good or excellent condition," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension Economist.

May 10, 2004

URBANA - Chemicals have limited effects on controlling it and there are no known resistant varieties of processing pumpkin to withstand an attack of the deadly blight known as Phytophthora capsici (P. capsici). Now, researchers at the University of Illinois suspect that rotating crops that are not susceptible to the disease may be a solution to the problem.

May 6, 2004

Urbana--Highly purified soy foods and supplements marketed in the United States may stimulate the growth of pre-existing estrogen-dependent breast tumors, said William Helferich, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, in a recent study published in Carcinogenesis.

May 4, 2004

URBANA--One key reality of current soybean marketing is that most soybeans are destined for livestock feed, while most marketing and new product introductions have occurred in the soy food and industrial use areas, according to Peter Goldsmith, National Soybean Research Laboratory Fellow in Agricultural Strategy and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the U of I.

May 4, 2004

URBANA--Many growers have been hesitant to plant varieties with resistance to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) because of the potential for so-called yield-drag. This has been especially true for fields with no visible signs of SCN damage.

But, according to a recent on-farm study at the University of Illinois conducted with funding from the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board, nearly all growers in the state would probably benefit from planting SCN-resistant varieties.

May 3, 2004

The rebound in corn and soybean prices last week, following a sharp decline from contract highs, is an indication of how much uncertainty still remains for these crops. And prices are likely to continue to trade in a wide range as the 2004 growing season unfolds unless U.S. and world grain and oilseed production is extremely large, according to University of Illinois Extension Economist Darrel Good.

April 29, 2004

Urbana - With agriculture consistently ranked as one of the most hazardous occupations in America, it's fitting that the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is offering students a new option in their education - an emphasis in the area of agricultural safety and health.

What's more, some students selected for the new ag safety and health program will receive a stipend and/or tuition assistance.

April 29, 2004

URBANA--Several faculty, staff, students and alumni in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences were honored last night during the college's annual Paul A. Funk Awards banquet. The awards encompass teaching, research, extension, and support services.

URBANA--Eligible seniors and young mothers will receive vouchers they can redeem for fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets in Illinois this summer, then watch University of Illinois Extension nutrition educators demonstrate how to prepare and store the produce they have purchased.

This year, seniors will pay for their produce with $28 in vouchers from Area Agencies on Aging, distributed at sites that offer group meals for eligible seniors.

April 26, 2004

Urbana -- Corn and soybean futures prices spiked to contract highs in early April, but declined significantly during the past two weeks illustrating a volatile price pattern as market participants react and overreact to each piece of new information.

"I expect this volatile pattern to continue," said Darrel Good, U of I Extension Economist.

On the supply side of the equation for corn, Good says the market will closely monitor weather, weather forecasts, and the USDA’s weekly report of crop progress and crop conditions.

Date: April 26, 2004

URBANA - A recent conference on industrial biotechnology and bioprocessing held in Orlando drew twice as many people as anticipated. Industry representatives and scientists came together to look at options for the future of fuel and bio-based products. Judging from the attendance, interest in biofuels and bio-based products appears to be high.

April 26, 2004

URBANA--A University of Illinois study addressing upcoming changes in the way farmland property tax assessments will be made concludes the difference "does not appear to be a particularly important one."

Dwight D. Raab, a U of I Extension farm business analysis specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, said the study stemmed from concerns voiced by Illinois landowners. Co-authoring the report, "New Yield Estimates for Farmland Tax Assessments," was Robert J. Hauser, a professor in the department.

April 23, 2004

URBANA--A University of Illinois study comparing current and past farm commodity programs returns a mixed verdict, according to one of its authors.

April 23, 2004

URBANA--A tax seminar of interest to agricultural tax professionals will be offered in Champaign this summer by University of Illinois Extension. The program is provided through the University of Illinois Tax School.

April 21, 2004

URBANA--Finding the keys to big success in small towns is among the topics on the agenda June 9 for the Sixth Annual Statewide Leadership Conference. The event, co-sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, will be in the Hawthorn Suites, Champaign.

April 20, 2004

URBANA--The vulnerabilities for the cattle industry in coming months appear to be the opening of the Canadian border to cattle under 30 months of age which will increase slaughter supplies, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

Date: April 19, 2004

URBANA - The first of the 2004 tours sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program will be to several ethnic grocery stores in Chicago on Thursday, June 10.

April 15, 2004

URBANA--Dairy experts will be available to producers from four states during the June 16-17 Professional Dairy Management Seminar at the Grand Harbor Resort in Dubuque, Iowa. University of Illinois Extension is one of the event's sponsors.

April 13, 2004

URBANA--The corn and soybean markets will be each confronted by a major issue over the next few months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"For the soybean market, the major task for the next four months is making small supplies last until the new harvest," said Darrel Good. "For corn, the major issue is the size of the 2004 crop.

"For both corn and soybeans, attractive pricing opportunities for the 2004 crop have unfolded and may persist well into the growing season."

April 12, 2004

URBANA--Rising milk prices may give dairy producers as much as $19 per hundredweight later this spring, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"If you are a dairy farmer, now is a good time to get ready to pay off some of your debts," said Mike Hutjens. "Several reasons are behind the increase in milk price at the farm. One contributing factor is a reduction in both dairy cows and dairy farms in the United States after 18 months of devastatingly low milk prices.

April 7, 2004

URBANA-- Planter size has a significant impact on per acre costs, according to a University of Illinois Extension study examining planter costs with different farm sizes.

"Planting more hours per day could result in a smaller planter size having lower costs," added Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist who conducted the study.

April 6, 2004

URBANA--A number of fundamental factors have propelled corn, wheat and soybean prices to high levels, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"These factors include the small world wheat crop of 2003-04, the small 2004 U.S. soybean crop, large soybean imports by China, a poor end to the 2004 South American growing season, and the expanding domestic consumption of corn," said Good. "The net result is declining world inventories of grain.

March 30, 2004

URBANA--Even with current strong hog prices, several threats remain for hog producers, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The first threat is that pork exports will not be able to keep hog prices high after this spring," said Chris Hurt. "The second is that old-crop soybeans may not yet be sufficiently rationed. Finally, any concerns over harmful weather this summer would result in still higher prices for corn and meal."

March 23, 2004

Urbana - Swine manure might just be the surprising key to reducing crude oil imports and creating a new industry in the United States.

Swine manure is being converted to crude oil at the University of Illinois using a thermochemical conversion (TCC) process. But researchers have refined this existing process to make it more efficient and faster. The economic impact of such technology could be dramatic.

March 22, 2004

One of the greatest hazards on today’s farms is the risk of electrocution. Before heading back into the fields this spring, Safe Electricity reminds farm workers to be especially aware of dangers working near overhead power lines, and urges review of farm activities and work practices that take place around all electric lines.

March 23, 2004

URBANA--The actual size of the current South American soybean harvest and prospects for the 2004 U.S. crop will be very important factors over the next several months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

March 22, 2004

URBANA--Serendipity means looking for one thing and finding something else that proves to be more valuable than the original object. The concept manifested itself recently in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences when a researcher came across an unexpected phenomenon that may eventually mean an added $36 million for U.S. poultry producers.

March 18, 2004

URBANA - Six unique locations have been selected for this year's sustainable agriculture tours, representing the broad diversity of the topic. “Sustainable agriculture includes alternative farming practices but it’s also about ways to provide an adequate and dependable farm income,” said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, a University of Illinois research specialist who is coordinating the tours.

March 19, 2004

URBANA--Some early-season clues suggest that the soybean aphids may not be as troublesome in the upcoming growing season as they were in 2003, according to entomologist Kevin Steffey from University of Illinois Extension.

In 2001, David Voegtlin from the Illinois Natural History Survey established a network of suction traps so that scientists could monitor the flights of soybean aphids throughout any given season.

March 17, 2004

URBANA--Thursday, August 19 has been set as the date for Agronomy Day 2004 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "South Farms Centennial."

This 47th consecutive Agronomy Day is a partnership among several academic units in the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The event features four tours on the latest developments in agricultural research, as well as numerous tent displays.

March 16, 2004

URBANA--Given that the record rate of consumption of U.S. corn is expected to continue, and perhaps accelerate, in 2004-05, the 2004 U.S. corn crop needs to be large. Similarly, the poor end to the South American soybean growing season and the smaller-than-expected harvest there means the United States needs to have a large soybean crop in 2004, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

March 10, 2004 Urbana, IL -- For decades, the rule of thumb for nitrogen application in Illinois has been 1.2 pounds for every expected bushel of corn yield, so a farmer established a yield goal and multiplied by 1.2 to calculate how much nitrogen fertilizer to apply. This may change with the development of a nitrogen test that promises to be more scientific and accurate.

March 9, 2004

URBANA--It appears that soybean prices could continue to be volatile for an extended period of time as the market reacts to a variety of fundamental factors, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Rumors about export demand, export cancellations, and potential imports of meal and oil could contribute to the volatility," said Darrel Good. "Even with the price uncertainty, new crop soybean futures are now high enough for producers to start the 2004 marketing program."

March 8, 2004

URBANA--The search for the cause of early season damage to a corn crop rarely includes submitting a soil sample for nematode analysis since it is widely believed that damaging levels of nematodes rarely occur in fine-textured soils.

But, according to a recent survey in northwestern Illinois by integrated pest management and crops educators from University of Illinois Extension, nematodes can cause early season problems irrespective of soil type.

March 8, 2004

March 5, 2004

URBANA--Producers interested in improving the quality and productivity of their pastures may want to attend one of three University of Illinois Extension seminars held on March 31 and April 1. The Pasture Specie Selection and Management seminars will be held in Lewiston, Springfield, and Carrollton.

March 3, 2004

URBANA--A five-year, $12 million research project on swine waste and odor management may have wrapped up, but that doesn't mean University of Illinois researchers have stopped looking for ways to boost the state's livestock industry and ag economy. Mike Ellis, a professor of swine management in the Department of Animal Sciences, indicated that technologies from that effort are being tested at the same time that new areas are being explored.

"We think that many of these have a huge potential impact for Illinois," he said.

March 2, 2004

URBANA--U.S. pork producers face good news and bad news in 2004, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The bad news is that pork supplies have been larger than anticipated and feed prices are causing production costs to surge," said Chris Hurt. "The good news, however, is that hog prices so far have been higher than anticipated."

February 27, 2004

Urbana - Any farmer currently using or thinking about adopting a conservation tillage system has two innovative and comprehensive resources available from Midwest Plan Service (MWPS) and created through the efforts of more than 60 university and industry specialists.

February 24, 2004

URBANA--For now, the soybean market will continue to react to expectations about the size of the South American crop and to the reported rate of consumption of U.S. soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The pace of U.S. exports and export sales has begun to moderate," said Darrel Good. "As of Feb. 19, cumulative export inspections were 7 percent below those of a year ago. Just five weeks earlier, cumulative inspections were 5 percent larger than those of a year ago.

February 18, 2004

URBANA--Registration is now open for the 2004 Sheep Shearing School, according to Richard Cobb, University of Illinois Extension sheep specialist. The school will be held April 7-8 at the Livestock Pavilion on the Western Illinois University campus in Macomb.

"The school will be limited to 24 students and enrollments will be accepted in the order they are received in my office," said Cobb. "Students who participate will learn to properly maintain equipment, as well as how to shear sheep."

February 17, 2004

URBANA--It now appears that the market for U.S. corn could expand in 2004-05, if supplies are available, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

Feb. 13, 2003

URBANA--The National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois is inviting growers to provide their input on varieties they want included in the Varietal Information Program for Soybeans (VIPS) by mailing in the survey card sent out by the Illinois Soybean Association.

February 12, 2004

URBANA--A University of Illinois Extension analysis of a new crop insurance option recently made available to farmers indicates it compares favorably with other group products, particularly in soybeans.

"If an individual is purchasing group products, a Group Risk Income Plan (GRIP) with a harvest revenue (HR) option should be given consideration," said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist who authored the study, "GRIP-HR: An Analysis of Returns and Risks" for Farm Economics: Facts & Opinions.

February 11, 2004

URBANA--Animals meeting some of the "most stringent requirements in the United States" will go before the auctioneer's gavel at the Feb. 19 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, the U of I Department of Animal Sciences, and consigning purebred breeders. The sale opens at 11 a.m. in the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Feb.10, 2004

URBANA--Yellow field pea has suddenly joined the list of alternative crops, as a result of a promotion aimed at producers in Central and Southern Illinois.

"As far as we know, this crop has never been grown commercially in this part of Illinois, and there has been no research to see how well or consistently it might perform," said Emerson Nafziger, crop scientist with University of Illinois Extension. "Some producers in Northern Illinois did produce relatively good yields in 2003, under unusually cool weather conditions in May and June."

February 10, 2004

URBANA--A potential "win-win" situation for Illinois corn and livestock producers is the subject of ongoing trials through the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences. Larry Berger, a professor of nutrition, is leading the study focusing on distillers' grains and effective uses of the commodity in beef and dairy cattle feeding.

February 10, 2004

URBANA--The rate of consumption for U.S. soybeans will slow significantly over the next few months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Limited supplies allow no alternative other than to import larger quantities of soybeans or products," said Darrel Good. "The question is what will cause the rate of use to slow? Three things will likely contribute to the decline.

February 10, 2004

Source: Contact:

URBANA--A University of Illinois developmental economist who has worked extensively in Bangladesh says U.S. Agency for International Development programs in one of the world's poorest countries are having an impact in increasing education, particularly for girls.

February 4, 2004

February 3, 2004

URBANA--Dairy producers should tailor their management response to the shortage of bovine somatotropin hormone (BST) to their operations, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"Dairy managers will need to consider their options and cow responses as no one 'right answer' will fit all dairy farms," said Mike Hutjens. "Total milk yield may drop 1 to 2 percent in the United States due to the BST shortage in 2004."

February 3, 2004

URBANA--Cattle prices could be extremely volatile in 2004 with both higher and lower price movements, and feed prices could also have wide swings, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"This is an environment in which producers need to consider price risk management including the use of futures or options for hedging corn, soybean meal, feeder cattle and finished cattle prices," said Chris Hurt.

February 3, 2004

URBANA--Illinois producers might want to consider two possible stops on the 4-State Dairy Management Seminar this month. The seminar will be held at the American Legion Hall in Breese on Feb. 18 and on Feb. 19 at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station in Arlington, WI.

The Dairy Management Seminar is a cooperative effort involving University of Illinois Extension and its counterparts at the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, and Iowa State University.

January 29, 2004

URBANA--Beef producers will have the opportunity to learn how to exploit their competitive advantages in the production of high-quality grading beef at a University of Illinois Extension conference Feb. 5 in Springfield. "Producing High Quality Grading Beef" will be held in the U of I Extension building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

January 28, 2004

URBANA--Dairy producers have a first-time opportunity to join in the University of Illinois' annual spring dairy farm tour March 21 through March 25. The tour is normally limited to U of I students but this year's swing through Michigan and Indiana has openings for interested producers.

Dairy farms on the tour have wide diversity in herd numbers, including a five-herd, 10,000-cow operation at Fair Oaks, Indiana, and another 10,000-cow unit also in Indiana.

January 28, 2004

URBANA--A seminar for sheep producers will be held Feb. 21 in Anna, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The Union County Sheep Day will be held in the FSA Conference room.

The program begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at noon. Presenters are A. Richard Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist and Cliff Shipley, U of I Extension sheep veterinarian.

January 28, 2004

URBANA--A seminar on meat goat production will be held April 20 at the Vermilion County 4-H Fairgrounds in Cayuga, Indiana co-sponsored by University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension. The seminar begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.

January 26, 2004

URBANA -- For the near term, it appears that the combination of small inventories, a rapid rate of consumption, and the uncertainties of the 2004 growing season will support corn and soybean prices at relatively high levels, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

January 21, 2004

Urbana - If you've ever been inside a livestock confinement building, you can appreciate the importance of air movement--not only to help reduce smells, but to minimize the health risk of inhaling dust-laden air.

To help producers make wise choices in agricultural ventilation systems, thousands of people in the livestock and poultry industry worldwide have relied on a unique research lab at the University of Illinois.

January 20, 2004

Urbana - Tiny LEGO® bricks. You stepped on them in the dark and you sucked them up in the vacuum cleaner. Eventually they found their way into every room in your house. But when your child decided to pitch the instructions and create his own intergalactic space station, you knew you'd found the perfect blend of entertainment and education.

January 20, 2004

URBANA--Based on historical price patterns, in conjunction with current expectations about strong corn demand and uncertainty about the 2004 crop, corn prices should show further strength yet this winter and into the spring, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Based on historical trading ranges, current targets for both old crop cash corn prices and December 2004 futures are about 20 cents above current prices," said Darrel Good. "Legitimate concerns about the 2004 crop could propel prices above these targets.

January 20, 2004

URBANA - Chances are that the jar of horseradish in your refrigerator and the can of pumpkin filling in your pantry originated on farms in Illinois. In a state in which corn and soybeans take the lead, this information may come as a surprise to some people. In fact, about 50 percent of the commercial horseradish and 90 percent of the processing pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois. Several Illinois organizations want this and other statistics about Illinois specialty crops to be common knowledge.

January 16, 2004

URBANA--A single dairy cow that tested positive for Mad Cow Disease may provide the impetus for an overdue national system of animal identification, said a University of Illinois animal scientist. But the process is not likely to be as simple as some think.

"Currently, every automobile has a VIN number and this is recorded at every transaction with that vehicle. There is no compelling reason why this same procedure cannot be applied to livestock," said Philip J. Dziuk, professor emeritus of animal sciences.

January 14, 2004

URBANA--War refugees, hurricane victims, and famine survivors need access to an inexpensive, excellent protein source in a form that can be easily air-dropped and will be acceptable to all cultural and religious groups.

University of Illinois food scientists Keith Cadwallader and Barbara Klein believe their formulation for an emergency relief bar, which contains 100 percent soy as its protein source, fills the bill very nicely.

URBANA--Only 10 years ago, agricultural land dominated the Elburn, Illinois countryside as it had since the 1830s. But Elburn, only 40 miles west of Chicago's downtown, is much different today as Chicago commuters have continued to move west.

The rapid growth of Elburn and the rest of Kane County has made this area a contested territory where farmers struggle to survive, said Sonya Salamon. A University of Illinois cultural anthropologist, Salamon is the author of Newcomers to Small Towns: Suburbanization of the Heartland.

January 13, 2004

URBANA--Sheep producers can participate in three upcoming University of Illinois Extension sheep grazing TeleNets from their own homes. The programs scheduled for March 8, March 29, and July 26 begin at 7 p.m.

January 13, 2004

URBANA--New USDA forecasts and estimates should provide significant support for corn, soybean, and wheat prices, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Wheat prices may receive additional support from ongoing concerns about the condition of the hard red winter wheat crop," said Darrel Good. "Prices for the 2003 corn and soybean crops and prices for the 2004 crops of all three commodities moved to new marketing year highs following the reports.

January 8, 2004

URBANA--Beef producers and others interested in the industry will have the opportunity to attend a number of University of Illinois Extension-sponsored events in January and February.

On Jan. 20, a beef cattle seminar will be held at the Ford-Iroquois Extension office in Onarga and on Jan. 22 the same program will be offered at Reel's Livestock Center near Congerville. Both programs are from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

January 8, 2004

Editor's note: High resolution digital photos are available for use in publications by contacting Debra Levey Larson via email at dlarson@uiuc.edu.

URBANA -- Knowing where, how and by whom your steak dinner was raised has recently become a more pressing question for Americans. Several independent grocery stores in Chicago have found a locally produced beef marketed under the label, Illinois Crown Beef that they say they can sell to their customers with confidence because they know where it came from.

Jan. 6, 2004

URBANA--Many consumers have been hesitant to try soy foods because of unfamiliarity with how to use the ingredients in everyday cooking or where to purchase them. The decision to give them a try, however, has become much easier with a new starter kit developed by the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois.

The Soy Foods Starter Kit contains all the essential ingredients for using soy in the average American diet, as well as an instruction book filled with easy recipes and tips on how to purchase and use soy products.

January 6, 2004

URBANA--Some further reduction in the breeding herd will likely be required to bring the pork industry back to profitability, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The reduction in farrowing intentions for the spring 2004 quarter suggests the industry is moving in that direction," said Chris Hurt. "Producers must also watch feed ingredient costs. It is likely that the required soybean rationing has not yet occurred and that tight world stocks of corn could still mean higher prices.

December 30, 2003

URBANA--U.S. consumers have tended to take food security for granted but in a post-911 world and especially in the wake of a positive Mad Cow Disease case in Washington State, new looks are being taken at the farm-to-supermarket chain through a University of Illinois research project.

December 23, 2003

URBANA--Management practices that can help beef producers cut winter feed costs by stockpiling tall fescue will be the topic Jan. 6 at a University of Illinois Extension pasture walk in Greene County.

"Certain management practices must be carried out during the last summer and fall to produce the quality and volume of forages for winter grazing," said Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator based in East Peoria. "This pasture walk will focus on those steps."

December 23, 2003

URBANA--For the first time in 13 years, one of the stops on University of Illinois Extension's Dairy Days series will be moved. The program formerly held in El Paso will be held in the Cerf Center at Eureka College in Eureka on Jan. 8, 2004.

December 22, 2003

URBANA--Registration remains open for "Culling Challenges," the University of Illinois Extension 2004 Dairy Days program that will be offered at 10 locations throughout the state in January. The series of one-day meetings is also sponsored by the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine, the U of I Department of Animal Sciences, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, Alternative Drug Residue Penalty Fund.

December 19, 2003

URBANA--Two University of Illinois internet classes on dairy topics begin the last week in January. The classes target applied dairy feeding and milking management information for dairy producers, veterinarians, feed consultants and educators.

December 18, 2003

URBANA--University of Illinois Extension will offer a series of computerized workshops, Illinois Farm Management 2004, at several locations in January and February. The programs are a follow-up to an earlier series, Farm Income 2004.

12/16/03 Antibiotics used on swine farms may stir controversy about their potential role in the rise of anti-bacterial resistance, but a new study says their use means significant production efficiency and a 9 percent boost in pork producer profits.

December 17, 2003

URBANA--The relationship of corn and soybean yields in 2003 is an unusual event and unlikely to recur with frequency in the future, according to a University of Illinois Extension report.

December 15, 2003

Editor's Note: This is the last issue of Weekly Outlook for 2003. The next release will be sent on Jan. 5 or 6, 2004.

URBANA--This month's smaller corn production forecast for Argentina was not offset by significant changes for other countries, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

December 10, 2003

URBANA - A bacterium often found in soil, could be the key to the next petroleum-free fuel. Under a microscope Clostridium beijerinckii looks like a rather docile cheese curl, but when added to a vat of corn processing byproducts, it becomes an active agent eating its way through the goop. This fermentation process results in the alcohol, butanol. Hans Blaschek, microbiologist in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences has been studying Clostridium beijerinckii, or the "bug" as he calls it, for over 20 years.

Dec. 9, 2003

URBANA--Steven Pueppke, associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, has been selected as the new director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory. Peter Goldsmith, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the U of I, will also take on responsibilities as the new NSRL Fellow in Agricultural Strategy.

December 9, 2003

URBANA--The soybean market looks to remain very unsettled, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"While there is some evidence of a slowdown in soybean meal and oil use, soybean prices are likely to remain well-supported until more is known about additional Chinese purchases and the progress of the South American crop," said Darrel Good. "If Chinese purchases slow, as expected, and the South American crop continues to make good progress, prices may well move lower through the winter months.

Dec. 8, 2003

URBANA--The regional distribution of soybean production and processing capacity in the world has shifted dramatically during the last decade. And, according to a recent study co-authored by Peter Goldsmith, assistant professor of agribusiness management in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois and National Soybean Research Laboratory Fellow in Agricultural Strategy, this change will have several important consequences for the U.S. soybean industry.

December 4, 2003

Urbana - Landowners and agricultural producers interested in one of the many state or federal conservation programs will have a unique opportunity to take an in-depth look at the conservation provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill.

To help landowners and producers understand program options, a statewide Farm Conservation Programs Teleconference has been scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at participating University of Illinois Extension Unit Offices.

December 3, 2003

Urbana - "Connecting Illinois Watersheds," the first statewide conference on watershed management, will be held in Peoria, Illinois at the Holiday Inn Brandywine on February 5 and 6, 2004.

Organizers of the conference hope to provide an educational setting where watershed planning groups can learn more about watershed management and network with others interested in preserving and improving watershed health. Invited speakers include Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, and Joel Brunsvold, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

December 3, 2003

URBANA--Several processes and practices aimed at reducing swine odor and enhancing manure management were evaluated in a University of Illinois project, the Illinois Swine Odor Control Proving Center. The research was led by Yuanhui Zhang, a professor of bioenvironmental engineering in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

December 2, 2003

Urbana - For the latest yield and nutrient data, check out the Illinois Tillage Seminars this winter.

Conservation tillage yield results and data from soil and nutrient studies done on farms across Illinois will be the centerpiece of five tillage seminars scheduled around the state in January. The theme for this year's seminars: "Soil and Nutrient Management: Decision-Making for 2004."

December 2, 2003

Urbana - Everything from basic drainage design to cutting-edge research will be covered at this year's Illinois Regional Drainage seminars, "What's New in Drainage?" Six seminars will be held in February at various locations across Illinois.

Experts in drainage management from the University of Illinois will be on hand to discuss a variety of topics at each of the seminars, said Stanley Solomon, U of I Extension engineering technology educator. Speakers include:

December 2, 2003

URBANA--It appears that hog prices have been forgotten in a period of farm price bullishness, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

Chris Hurt said the answer may be very complex and "related to what seems to be a general tendency toward overall lower hog prices since about 1997."

Hurt's comments came as he reviewed the hog market in the context of other commodities.

December 1, 2003

Editor's note: High resolution digital photos are available for use in publications by contacting Debra Levey Larson via email at dlarson@uiuc.edu.

December 1, 2003

URBANA - Illinois producers and agriculture professionals can learn how to write grant proposals for two sustainable agriculture programs--North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR SARE) Producer Grant Program and the Illinois Department of Agriculture's C-2000 Sustainable Agriculture Program at workshops in January and February held throughout the State of Illinois.

January 21 in Decatur, hosted by University of Illinois Extension, Macon County, 2535 Millikin Parkway.

December 1, 2003

URBANA--A major problems confronting researchers seeking ways to reduce swine waste odor involves methods for measuring the level of odor. Without such a standard, discussion of the problem is largely subjective. A project funded by the State of Illinois through the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) has solved this problem.

Susan Brewer, a professor in the U of I Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, dealt with human evaluation of swine waste odor.

November 25, 2003

URBANA--A study to determine if composting is a feasible method for disposing swine manure has shown the process can work effectively, said an Illinois State University researcher whose work is part of a $6 million research project. The project on swine odor and waste management was funded by the State of Illinois through the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).

Nov. 24, 2004

URBANA--The latest perspectives on critical issues in crop production and protection for corn and soybean growers will highlight a series of regional conferences scheduled at six sites during Jan. 13-22, 2004.

November 25, 2003

URBANA--It appears that the corn market is in position to generate a wider price range than has been experienced over the past 14 months, said a University of Illinois marketing specialist.

November 24, 2003

URBANA--A new position in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences seeks to expand relationships and partnerships between the U of I, the College of ACES and the public and private sectors in northeastern Illinois. The U of I Board of Trustees recently authorized the appointment of James Oliver to the new post, Assistant Dean, Urban and Metropolitan Affairs.

November 21, 2003

URBANA--Expectations that soybean prices may decline relative to corn prices in the long-term have led many Illinois producers to consider shifting more acres into corn at the expense of soybeans. That is not a good idea, according to a recent University of Illinois Extension study.

November 19, 2003

URBANA--Reduction of nitrogen and sulfur in swine finishing diets did not affect pig growth performance but did alter concentration of manure components implicated in odor, according to a study that is part of a $6 million project on swine odor and waste management. The work was funded by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).

November 18, 2003

URBANA--The difficulty of maintaining world grain production at consistently high levels over the past few years has also raised important questions about agricultural policy and production technology, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The focus continues to shift from managing surpluses to addressing other market distorting policies," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed world grain production.

November 17, 2003

URBANA - A growing percentage of farms in Central Illinois are shifting from crop share to cash rent arrangements. This trend, combined with aging farmers and a generation of children who live elsewhere and don’t want to farm, is contributing to the decline of rural communities.

Nov. 14, 2003

URBANA--Along with updates on the latest developments in crop protection, the University of Illinois' 2004 Crop Protection Technology Conference will feature an array of speakers and topics on many of the major issues that are confronting the agriculture industry today.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, January 7, and Thursday, January 8, 2004, at the Illini Union on the U of I campus. Sponsors include the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and U of I Extension.

Nov. 14, 2003

URBANA--Along with updates on the latest developments in crop protection, the University of Illinois' 2004 Crop Protection Technology Conference will feature an array of speakers and topics on many of the major issues that are confronting the agriculture industry today.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, January 7, and Thursday, January 8, 2004, at the Illini Union on the U of I campus. Sponsors include the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and U of I Extension.

November 12, 2003

URBANA--A system that utilizes heat shows promise in significantly reducing odor from swine production facilities, according to a Southern Illinois University researcher working in a $6 million project funded by the Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).

"It is reasonable to expect over 80 percent odor removal from a full-scale semi-continuous system after startup," said James W. Blackburn, a professor of mechanical engineering and energy processing.

November 11, 2003

URBANA--Registration is open for a Dec. 11-12 University of Illinois conference that will share cutting-edge information on swine odor and waste management. The Pork Industry Conference program will be held at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign.

November 11, 2003

URBANA--Current import/export activity by China as well as potential activity in those areas has become the focus of the soybean, corn, and wheat markets, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The magnitude of soybean and wheat imports by China and the level of Chinese corn exports have the potential to significantly influence prices in the current environment of tight world grain stocks," said Darrel Good.

November 7, 2003

URBANA--Factors that challenge agricultural producers will be addressed in "Farm Income 2004: A Workshop Addressing Decision-Making Challenges in a Risky Environment," a program offered at four locations in December. The locations are Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Springfield, and Urbana.

November 7, 2003

URBANA--"Culling Challenges" is the theme for University of Illinois Extension's 2004 Dairy Days program that will be offered at 10 locations throughout the state in January. The series of one-day meetings is also sponsored by the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine, the U of I Department of Animal Sciences, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, Alternative Drug Residue Penalty Fund.

November 5, 2003

URBANA--Registrations are now being accepted for the University of Illinois Sheep Industry Day. The program will be held Dec. 6 in room 150 of the Animal Sciences Laboratory building.

The program, which opens at 9 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m. with the annual meeting of the Illinois Lamb and Wool Producers, includes presentations on utilizing grain processing by-products in sheep production and development of new markets for Illinois producers.

Nov. 3, 2003

URBANA--A new cookbook that presents the many ways that soy can be used as a healthy and delicious ingredient in a variety of baked products suitable for the average American kitchen has been published by the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois. This illustrated, full-color publication entitled Baking with Soy in the American Kitchen is the third in an ongoing series of soy foods cookbooks.

November 4, 2003

URBANA--The $3 increase in soybean prices over the past three months seems rather large in the face of rising world oilseed production, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

October 31, 2003

URBANA--Don't panic but act by Nov. 15 is the advice a University of Illinois Extension specialist has for farmers who may have received notice that their claims in the Non-StarLink litigation are deficient.

October 30, 2003

Urbana - "User-friendly" is the best way to describe this year's Certified Livestock Manager Training Workshops.

"We're giving people a lot of options," said Randy Fonner, University of Illinois Extension specialist and coordinator of 11 upcoming workshops across the state.

"We've tried to make our schedule flexible," Fonner said. "When we have two workshops in an area, we've scheduled the first before Christmas and the second after the first of the year. We've also increased the number of species-specific workshops."

October 31, 2003

URBANA--Illinois livestock producers and the state's agricultural economy may soon be getting a "lift" from a new research and Extension program headed by a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist. The Illinois Livestock Initiative Focus Team (IL-LIFT) is funded at $385,000 for four years by the Illinois Council for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).

October 29, 2003

URBANA--The University of Illinois has released the 2003 results from its variety testing program for corn and soybeans. The data from these latest trials are available in both printed form and on the Internet at http://vt.cropsci.uiuc.edu.

October 29, 2003

URBANA--Recent USDA corn and soybean forecasts have generated strong reactions from some producers and market analysts, according to a University of Illinois agricultural economist. Addressing those concerns, Scott Irwin and Darrel Good, professors in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, have issued a new study, "Understanding USDA Corn and Soybean Production Forecasts: An Overview of Methods, Performance and Market Impacts."

October 28, 2003

URBANA--A systems and design component of a $6 million, five-year swine odor and waste management research project has yielded several recommendations for producers, said Gay Miller, a University of Illinois professor of veterinary pathobiology who led that component.

"Our component served as an integrating and field-testing unit for the work done in other components of the project," Miller explained. "Research findings from these other projects were incorporated and used either directly or indirectly in our work."

October 28, 2003

URBANA--The market clearly believes that corn market fundamentals are stronger than implied by the most recent USDA forecast of production and consumption, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Producers are now faced with a different set of decisions," said Darrel Good. "The cash price is above the loan rate and the market is offering little to store the crop. Since no other sector will store to the crop under the current price structure, near-term prices will be influenced by the rate at which producers sell the crop."

October 21, 2003

URBANA - The state tree for Illinois is the White Oak. The largest tree in Illinois is an American Sycamore measuring 119 feet high and 31 feet in circumference. A majority of Illinois' trees are less than 60 years old. It is estimated that 75 percent of Illinois' wildlife requires forested habitat.

October 21, 2003

URBANA--A spectacular run for cattle prices has them still searching for the top of the market, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"October futures were near $70 in late June before rallying to near $85 by late September," said Chris Hurt. "By Oct. 15, they reached a high of $103.60, a new record. Prior to this year, the previous high was $84.30 established in March of 1993. The question now is where is the top? While no one knows, a strong argument can be made that the top was made this past week, on Oct. 15.

October 20, 2003

URBANA - Producers, buyers, sellers, and distributors in Illinois now have an online marketing tool. MarketMaker is an interactive website designed to find supply chain partners and to improve knowledge of where food consumers are located and how they make food related purchasing decisions.

Oct. 17, 2003

URBANA--Researchers at the University of Illinois will share in a three-year, $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop corn hybrids with higher levels of vitamin A and other micronutrients. Other partners in this initiative are the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Iowa State University, Monsanto Company, and Wageningen University.

October 16, 2003

URBANA—That proponents and opponents of large-scale swine operations disagree is not surprising but a University of Illinois research project for the first time details the foundations of the opposing arguments and the array of opinion among farmers, people who live near such operations, journalists, and public officials.

Will pork producers see better times ahead in 2004? Dr. Chris Hurt, an international expert in swine production and livestock marketing, will share his insights on this topic at the 2003 Illinois Swine Health and Management Conference, to be held December 3 at the University of Illinois Extension Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Pork producers, swine veterinarians, and others with an interest in the industry can register before November 19 to attend and receive a $10 discount.

October 10, 2003

URBANA - Problems that have plagued generations on this planet continue to be the focus of the Oct. 16 World Food Day, a fact that the dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences believes is both important and welcome.

October 8, 2003

URBANA—Over the last six decades, faculty in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences have received over 300 major awards for their research, teaching and outreach. According to Neal Merchen, department head, these achievements reflect a commitment to excellence.

October 7, 2003

URBANA—A sheep pasture walk and discussion will be held Nov. 8 at the Elton Mau farm in Arrowsmith, sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The event begins at 10 a.m.

According to Richard Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist, the Mau family run 48 mature Rambouillet and Dorset ewes and their lambs on 7.5 acres of intensively managed pasture.

October 6, 2003

URBANA—The pattern of soybean price behavior since mid-September is very typical of a “short crop” year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“Since mid-September, soybean prices have increased a little more rapidly than product prices, soybean oil prices have been stronger than meal prices, basis in many areas has strengthened, and the inverse in the futures market—beyond March 2004—has increased,” said Darrel Good.

Oct. 2, 2003

URBANA--As harvest moves forward across Illinois, many growers will soon be turning their attention to their fall fertilization plans. Many of those plans, however, are likely to be impacted by the prospect for higher nitrogen costs next spring.

October 1, 2003

Illinois residents identified water quality as the most important issue in their communities, according to a recent survey of Illinois homeowners conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

September 30, 2003

URBANA—Since U.S. hog producers have been cutting back on the size of the breeding herd for five consecutive quarters, they hoped to be operating with solid profits by this time. However, several market factors have gotten in the way, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

September 27, 2003

Illinois 4-H alumni and partners were recognized at the 4-H Brunch of Champions during the Salute to Agriculture festivities on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus on Saturday, September 27.

The 2003 Friend of 4-H award was presented to John Huston, retired executive vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association of Chicago, for his numerous contributions and support, including service as Chair of the Chancellor’s Commission on Extension and member of Extension Partners.

September 25, 2003

Urbana - Vijay Singh, a food and bioprocess engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the recipient of the 2003 Corn Refiner's Association (CRA) Young Faculty Excellence Award.

CRA, a national trade association which represents companies that refine corn using the wet milling process, awarded Singh a grant of $20,000 per year for three years, to be used in his research in corn wet milling.

September 25, 2003

URBANA—Producers and others involved with the swine industry will have the opportunity to review cutting-edge information on swine odor and manure management at the Dec. 11-12 University of Illinois Pork Industry Conference. The event is sponsored by the U of I Department of Animal Sciences and the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).

September 23, 2003

URBANA -- Since 1996 the U.S. State Department, through the USDA, has had a program designed to help revitalize the rural economy of Armenia by assisting local agribusiness and food processors in evaluating the export market potential for the various food products that they produce as well as providing the necessary technical and financial assistance required to meet the export markets requirements. Researchers at the University of Illinois have been asked to assess the program's apparent success.

September 23, 2003

URBANA—With considerable uncertainty on both the supply and demand side of the U.S. soybean situation, pricing decisions are difficult, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“Increasingly, the soybean market is developing a ‘short-crop’ pattern, with prices moving higher, basis strengthening, and inverses in the futures market growing into the harvest period,” said Darrel Good. “Historically, short-crop years have produced some of the better pricing opportunities near harvest time.”

September 22, 2003

Editor's note: Please contact Burt Swanson via email swansonb@uiuc.edu.

September 22, 2003

URBANA—A variable-rate manure spreader offers promise to reduce odor and other problems associated with the application of livestock waste to cropland. The technology results from a research project led by Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension bioengineering specialist.

“Direct application of manure on cropland is a common way of using livestock manure in the United States,” Funk said. “In many states, new regulations require farmers to be more accurately accountable for the amount of fertilizer that is being applied to fields.

September 17, 2003

Champaign, IL - Over 6,000 pounds of organically grown Roma tomatoes are ripening on the vine on a six-acre experimental field site of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They are the first fruits of a new cooperative research program by researchers from the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin and the INHS.

September 17, 2003

Unlike the 1964 invasion orchestrated by John, Paul, George, and Ringo, the newest beetle invasion was brought to us from the Orient, not Europe. The multicolored Asian lady beetle, a small orange/red insect with dark spots, is thriving this year in record numbers thanks to the abundance of one of its favorite foods, the soybean aphid.

September 16, 2003

URBANA—Price reactions indicate the market was shocked by USDA’s September forecast of the 2003 corn and soybean crops, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“The corn price decline following the September USDA Crop Production report has pushed harvest bids to near the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loan rate,” said Darrel Good. “Prices at such a low level, coupled with a modest carry in the price structure, suggest that storing the newly harvested crop unpriced is a low-risk strategy. At risk is the cost of storage.

September 15, 2003

URBANA--Do you know what percent of the world’s water is available to drink? Do you know what alien species killed off the lake trout in Lake Michigan during the 1940s and 50s? At this year’s Farm Progress Show you can play Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Water Wheel of Information, and find out the answers to these and many other aquatic questions. Not to mention, win a prize.

Sept. 15, 2003

URBANA--Besides enduring unprecedented infestations of aphids, soybean growers across Illinois are now facing a major outbreak of charcoal rot, according to a recent survey conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

The survey is conducted in late August and early September of each year to determine the levels of various diseases as the soybean crop heads toward harvest. Primary funding is provided by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.

September 11, 2003

URBANA - Fee hunting can be an option for some farmers and land owners to develop another source of income from their property. Pike's Hunting Club in Marion is an example of a successful fee hunting operation and is the site of a tour scheduled for Wednesday, October 29.

September 11, 2003

URBANA—A study by an Illinois State Water Survey scientist indicates that elevating the level of discharge of odors from swine production facilities, such as a smokestack, would not greatly depreciate the level of odor. However, the study also points to a more effective way to measure odor levels.

“The odor measurement tool developed, known as a ‘nanonose’ because its operation depends on nanometer-sized aerosol particles, shows promise for routine odor measurement,” said Allen Williams, a professional scientist with the Survey.

September 10, 2003

URBANA--Many health-conscious consumers tout the benefits of soy foods because soy has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, relieve symptoms of menopause, and contain antioxidants that protect against cancer. But soy proponents still struggle to overcome the perception that soy foods aren't pleasing to the palate.

September 10, 2003

URBANA, IL - The rush to harvest can reap grim results – electrocution. Missing important safety steps results in many farm workers being killed and hundreds injured each year when farm equipment makes contact with overhead power lines. Safe Electricity, the statewide safety awareness program of the Illinois Electric Council (IEC), urges farm workers to review farm activities and work practices that take place around power lines to prevent tragic accidents.

September 9, 2003

URBANA—There is more than the usual amount of uncertainty this year about the magnitude of USDA’s September 2003 corn and soybean crop estimates, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“First, the August estimates were smaller than expected, prompting some to think that the USDA had factored a forecast of a hot, dry August into the August estimates,” said Darrel Good. “However, the USDA August estimates reflect the assumption of normal or average weather conditions subsequent to the time of data collection.

Sept. 8, 2003

URBANA--In recent weeks, soybean aphids have suddenly emerged as a major concern for growers throughout the Midwest. Densities of several thousand aphids per plant have been reported in many fields across the area.

The aphids were first discovered in large numbers in soybean fields near the end of the 2000 growing season. After careful scientific investigation, they were identified as Aphis glycines, which had previously been reported only in Asia, Australia, and some Pacific islands.

September 5, 2003

Urbana - The University of Illinois Department of Agricultural Engineering, recently ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, now has a new name. It is called the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

"Agricultural and Biological Engineering more accurately reflects the increased biological emphasis in our programs," said Loren Bode, head of the department. "It better represents what we do."

The name change was approved by the Board of Trustees and became effective on August 16, 2003.

September 4, 2003

URBANA - It is legal to compost fish, poultry and swine in Illinois. But now the state is exploring the possibility of making it legal to compost cows.

Composting swine has been legal only since 1995 and “the state had to work hard to get those rules written,” said Ted Funk, University of Illinois agricultural engineer. “Swine composting has worked out really well and now there are hundreds of swine composters across the state. So the next logical thing is to ask, ‘how about doing it for bovine’?

September 4, 2003

URBANA—Changes in swine feed components by using a natural enzyme, phytase, could reduce phosphorus concentration in swine wastes by as much as 50 percent, reducing the odor of the waste, according to a series of University of Illinois studies led by David Baker, professor emeritus in the Department of Animal Sciences.

September 3, 2003

“Even though the first 28 days of August were very dry with only 1.53 inches of rainfall statewide (46 percent of normal), August still ranked as the 27th wettest on record in Illinois since 1895 with 4.29 inches of rainfall (114 percent of normal). Until widespread rains over Labor Day weekend, August was on track to being the third driest August on record,” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

September 2, 2003

URBANA—The May 20-Aug. 8 closing of the Canadian border to beef shipments has had dramatic impacts on both cattle and hog prices, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

August 29, 2003

URBANA - Over 100 years ago, Rudolf Diesel ran his prototype diesel engine on peanut oil because that was the only source of a self-igniting fuel. Today, diesel engines are coming full circle, as the move continues toward alternative fuels such as biodiesel, which contains a percentage of a vegetable oil derivative.

August 26, 2003

URBANA?Being a good neighbor is as important to the researchers and staff at the new University of Illinois Beef/Sheep Unit at the South Farms as the traditional teaching, research, and outreach missions. That?s why the feedlot cattle barns will have a state-of-the-art system for collecting and injecting waste into croplands.

August 26, 2003

URBANA—Research that shifted the paradigm of beef production will continue in new, modern structures in the University of Illinois Beef/Sheep Facility for which ground was broken today.

August 26, 2003

URBANA—When the new University of Illinois South Farms Beef/Sheep facility opens it may also mark the initiation of a cooperative sheep research and breeding program with Illinois State University.

“We’ve been involved in cooperative beef cattle programs with Illinois State University in the past, but this will be a ‘first’ for sheep,” explained A. Richard Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist. “It is an evolution of the long-standing and productive U of I sheep program.”

August 26, 2003

URBANA—Beef cattle nutrition research has a long and distinguished history at the University of Illinois but Department of Animal Sciences faculty will not be resting on those laurels as they begin projects in the new Beef/Sheep Facility on the South Farms. Much of the research will focus on the use of ethanol production by-products for feed, which has important implications for Illinois beef and corn producers.

August 26, 2003

URBANA—As the 2003 corn and soybean harvest draws near, producers must make pricing and storage decisions for that portion of the crop not already priced, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

Date: August 25, 2003

URBANA - Although soybeans may typically be associated with processed soy products such as tofu, soy flour, soy milk, margarine and cooking oil, they are also an edible vegetable in whole bean form. University of Illinois researcher, Richard Bernard has developed 13 varieties of soybeans called Gardensoy, specifically bred to be eaten as a vegetable on your dinner plate alongside peas, carrots and corn, but with the added nutritional punch of protein found in soybeans.

August 22, 2003

URBANA—A “remodeled” web site geared toward providing agricultural producers with timely information to help them in decision-making has been unveiled by University of Illinois Extension. “Farm Decision Outreach Central, or farmdoc. ,” is located at: http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/ .

August 19, 2003

Urbana - A new optical sensor that "predicts" the spread pattern of granular fertilizer could dramatically change the way farmers calibrate spreaders and apply granular fertilizer.

Traditional calibration is a cumbersome process and dependent on the weather constraints of wind and rain, said Tony Grift, University of Illinois agricultural engineer. It involves driving a spreader over a row of 25 collection trays to collect the fertilizer and weighing each tray's contents to determine the spread pattern.

August 19, 2003

URBANA—Two University of Illinois dairy classes will be offered on-line this fall taught by Department of Animal Sciences faculty and Extension specialists. The classes—Principles of Dairy Science and Advanced Dairy Reproduction--begin in mid-September.

“If someone is interested in learning more about the dairy industry or if their job required familiarity with the latest dairy cattle reproduction research and information, these classes will be great opportunities,” said Michael Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

August 19, 2003

URBANA—Producers might want to consider three strategies as a starting point for dealing with questions created regarding federal counter-cyclical payments that might be made for corn, soybean and wheat crops, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

Urbana - If you've got an abandoned well on your property, the time is right to do something about it. For the first time in several years, Illinois is offering financial assistance to get the job done, said Michael C. Hirschi, University of Illinois Extension water quality specialist.

August 12, 2003

URBANA—Smaller 2003 corn and soybean crop estimates by USDA move the market’s focus on which direction and by how much will those estimates change as the growing season progresses, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

August 12, 2003 EDITOR’S NOTE: More detailed information on the history and future of beef cattle and sheep research at the U of I will be available in release form the day of the groundbreaking ceremony. If you prefer, I can provide contacts for you to interview. I can be reached at (217) 244-0225 or: rsampson@uiuc.edu . I look forward to seeing you on August 26. Bob Sampson, Extension communications specialist.

August 11, 2003 Urbana - Agriculture faces a fatality rate estimated to be almost six times higher than other industries. With this in mind, ag safety specialists from across the United States have compiled a national agenda for action that outlines 12 key areas for future safety research.

August 8, 2003

URBANA—First-hand experience with tobacco plants on his family’s Kentucky farm led Jimmy Clark to a distinguished 35-year career as a dairy nutrition scientist and researcher in dairy cattle nutrition at the University of Illinois’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

August 7, 2003

On the football field they will always compete, but on an Illinois farm field, Purdue University and the University of Illinois will team up for the 2003 Farm Progress Show to be held Sept. 23-25, 2003 near Henning Illinois.

"We were pleased that the University of Illinois asked us to join with them in showcasing our two institutions at this year's Farm Progress Show," said Victor Lechtenberg, dean of the Purdue School of Agriculture. "We have many cooperative efforts with our fellow land-grant university and will highlight ways that we work together."

August 5, 2003

Urbana - Few industries welcome government regulations, and the industry of commercial manure application is no exception. Therefore, when legislatures began regulating haulers in other states, the haulers in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan approached Extension specialists to develop a voluntary training and certification program.

August 5, 2003

URBANA—Expectations of large crops have allowed corn and soybean prices to move sharply lower over the past two months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“The average spot cash price of corn in central Illinois moved to a marketing year low on Aug. 1, nearly 50 cents below the level in mid-May,” said Good. “Cash soybean prices remained above the low of October 2002, but declined by more than $1 from the market year high in mid-May. New crop bids dropped below the loan level.”

August 5, 2003

URBANA—After three consecutive profitable years, Illinois hog producers saw their total economic costs exceed total returns in 2002, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

“Lower market hog prices, especially during the last three quarters of 2002, proved decisive for the negative profit margin,” said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist who conducted the study based on data from the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) record keeping and business analysis program.

August 1, 2003

URBANA—An intravaginal device that should improve reproductive efficiency in dairy cows has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said a University of Illinois scientist who conducted one of the pivotal trials leading to the action.

August 26, 2003

URBANA - As an example of an agritourism enterprise, Hardy's Reindeer Ranch is the site of the fifth tour this year sponsored by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program. The tour will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10.

July 31, 2003

URBANA--To insure that the yield potential for soybeans continues to increase, researchers at the University of Illinois have been working to expand the genetic base in new elite commercial varieties.

July 29, 2003

URBANA—A halt to the recent price decline in December 2003 corn futures and November 2003 soybean futures was generally related to some rethinking of potential crop size, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

July 24, 2003

URBANA—Anyone who has seen the Chinese Meishan pigs at the University of Illinois knows the animals have definite appearance differences with U.S.-bred swine. The differences are more than skin deep and researchers are trying to determine why the Chinese swine deal better with physical and mental stress than do the standard white crossbreds on American swine farms.

6/24/03

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Biologists studying early pregnancy in ferrets have isolated a protein vital to embryonic implantation. The discovery at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign eventually could enhance assisted-reproductive efforts in many threatened species.

In addition to its implications for reproduction, the discovery opens a window to study numerous cancerous tumors that secrete the same protein, said Janice M. Bahr, a professor of reproductive physiology in the department of animal sciences at Illinois.

July 23, 2003

URBANA—Nearly 40 percent of the hysterectomies performed each year are the result of fibroid tumors, a condition which afflicts about 25 percent of American women. At present, patients have a choice between surgery and a drug with side effects and limited effectiveness. However, research underway in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences may add new options.

July 22, 2003

URBANA--The fungal disease known as Asian soybean rust has long been a factor limiting soybean production in Australia and parts of Asia. Yield losses of more than 80 percent have been reported from experimental trials in that region, with losses of 30 to 50 percent commonly reported from producers' fields.

July 22, 2003

URBANA—Feeder cattle and calf prices should be boosted by strong finished cattle prices, by low interest rates, and by declining feed prices this fall, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

“Feeder cattle prices in the higher $80s to low $90s are expected, $6 to $8 higher than last fall,” said Chris Hurt. “Prices for 500 to 550-pound steer calves will likely move into the high $90s to low $100s, about $8 to $10 higher than last fall.”

July 21, 2003

URBANA -- For most Illinois farmers, agriculture is corn and soybeans with the occasional livestock herd or wheat field. Co-coordinator of the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois, Dan Anderson knows there is more to Illinois agriculture than corn and soybeans. Because of this, Anderson is writing a book profiling approximately 20 Illinois farmers who practice alternative farming, including organic and non-traditional methods.

July 21, 2003

URBANA—Five members of the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences have been honored by the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science. The awards were presented at a joint meeting of the groups earlier this summer.

July 15, 2003

URBANA—The negative impact on producers from lower average prices projected for the 2003-04 marketing year for wheat, corn, and soybeans will likely be more than offset by higher average yields and counter cyclical payments, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“In addition, stocks in the United States are not expected to build to burdensome levels, providing opportunity for higher prices in the last half of the marketing year,” said Darrel Good.

July 14, 2003

URBANA - An overview of the freshwater prawn (shrimp) farming industry is the topic of the fourth in a series of tours sponsored by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program. The tour will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, August 19, at Tanglefoot Farm in Simpson, two miles west of the U of I Dixon Springs Agricultural Center. Lunch will be provided as well as an opportunity to taste cooked freshwater prawns. The cost of the tour is $10 per person.

July 10, 2003

Urbana - Anyone who's driven past a hog farm on a hot summer day can attest to the pungent odor and the gritty air - it's hard to miss. No one likes it, and more and more people are concerned about it.

To determine just what's in the air coming from confinement animal buildings, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has sent six mobile labs to locations in six different states--all part of one of the most comprehensive studies on animal system air quality to date.

July 10, 2003

URBANA--Agronomy Day 2003 at the University of Illinois is scheduled for Thursday, August 21. The event features four tours on the latest developments in agricultural research, as well as numerous tent displays.

This 47th consecutive Agronomy Day at the U of I is a partnership among several academic units in College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The theme for this year?s event is ?Agriculture at the Crossroads.?

July 10, 2003

URBANA--Agronomy Day 2003 at the University of Illinois is scheduled for Thursday, August 21. The event features four tours on the latest developments in agricultural research, as well as numerous tent displays.

This 47th consecutive Agronomy Day at the U of I is a partnership among several academic units in College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The theme for this year?s event is ?Agriculture at the Crossroads.?

Date: July 9, 2003

URBANA - Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the topic of the third in a series of tours sponsored by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program. The tour will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, at Angelic Organics CSA farm in Caledonia.

Date: July 7, 2003

URBANA -- Although we can't quite throw away our extension cords yet, the day is coming sooner than ever imagined. More and more websites are now also accessible without a standard electrical outlet in sight on Internet-ready cell phones and palm devices. Several popular University of Illinois websites have recently joined the list of wireless sites.

The portal to the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences wireless websites is mobile.aces.uiuc.edu.

July 8, 2003

URBANA—The next 18 months may be viewed with some optimism by pork producers as costs are expected to drop and hog prices remain at least high enough to cover all expenses, said Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

“This is great news for many producers needing to improve their relationship with their lenders after about 14 months of operating losses,” said Chris Hurt.

July 3, 2003

URBANA—Even though agricultural marketing services do not appear to “beat the market,” studies released today by University of Illinois Extension indicate their use does provide an opportunity for corn and soybean producers to improve marketing performance.

July 2, 2003

URBANA -- Two Asian countries may have growing wild in their pastures and on their mountainsides the secrets to preventing numerous human diseases. Uzbekistan and its neighbor, Kyrgyzstan, which together, are about the size of California and South Dakota, are teeming with wild flowers and plants that have been curing ailments for centuries, but without formal scientific testing and the quality control needed to distribute them to the rest of the world.

July 1, 2003

URBANA—The markets viewed two recent USDA reports as negative for corn and soybean prices, especially with current prospects for higher yields in 2003, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“The spring wheat acreage estimate, along with better export demand, provided some temporary support to the wheat market,” said Darrel Good.

Good’s comments came as he reviewed the USDA’s June 1 Grain Stocks and June 30 Acreage reports.

June 26, 2003

Urbana - More than 160 odorous compounds have been identified in dairy, beef, swine and poultry manure, according to Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension specialist in environmental engineering.

June 25, 2003

URBANA - Incidents of deadly bacteria found in meat and poultry have raised public health concerns. And although irradiating the meat would greatly reduce outbreaks of E.coli and Salmonella, fear of the food becoming radioactive has prevented the process from becoming widely accepted in the United States.

Irradiation was approved for use on certain foods by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the early 1960s. Not only does it decrease bacteria in foods, it also reduces spoilage and delays ripening so produce can stay fresh longer.

June 24, 2003

URBANA--When it comes to beef, shoppers want low prices, little visible fat and good color and cuts at the store. At the table, though, they want tenderness, flavor and juiciness. A new study based on taste testing of 103 consumers also says that beef enhanced with a sodium and phosphate solution pass the dinner-table quality test.

June 24, 2003

URBANA—Developments in other areas of the world, in addition to the United States, will be potentially important for the demand for U.S. corn and soybean crops as current forecasts suggest reasonable chances for at least trend-line corn and soybean yields this year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

June 20, 2003

URBANA—Agricultural producers seeking to market crops whose value hinges on identity preservation need to understand the needs of those who are buying them, according to a recent University of Illinois study.

June 18, 2003

URBANA—A recent study by University of Illinois Extension answers the often-asked question: do large grain farms have lower per acre costs than smaller grain farms. The answer, according to Gary Schnitkey, the study’s co-author, is yes, up to about 1,000 acres.

June 18, 2003

URBANA - The possibility of unintended effects occurring in plants produced using biotechnology has generated fear, doubts and opposition. And even though biotechnology has been around for some 10,000 years, its use in crops, particularly those that will ultimately become food on our table, is suspect to some.

June 17, 2003

URBANA—As he cleans out his files after 33 years at the University of Illinois, rural sociology professor Andrew Sofranko comes across items that indicate the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“I was looking at some records from the 1970 U.S. Census, which indicated that there were just over 100,000 farms in Illinois. The question at that time was ‘what can we do to save the family farm?’ According to the latest Census, we have about 71,000 farms in Illinois and, after a hiatus, we are back to asking these questions again.”

June 17, 2003

URBANA--The West Nile virus will soon become more active in Illinois. Although only two infected birds have been found so far this year, it is time to start taking precautions to protecting yourself from this virus that killed 64 people in Illinois in 2002, said a University of Illinois entomologist.

June 17, 2003

URBANA—Although uncertainty still surrounds the 2003 corn growing season, producers face decisions about pricing the 2003 crop, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“Two general alternative approaches might be considered,” said Darrel Good. “One is the purchase of put options in order to protect the current price level and partially benefit from higher prices should they occur. If higher prices do develop, producers would then have to decide when to price the crop.

June 16, 2003

URBANA - Illinois has seen a major decline in the populations of grassland birds and other upland wildlife over the last 30 years, according to Richard E. Warner, researcher at the University of Illinois and director of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. He explained that agricultural land use has changed substantially in the past 100 years, contributing to the pronounced declines.

June 12, 2003

URBANA - Farm-fresh eggs, meat, produce ad other products from Central Illinois producers are just a click away on a new website created to help consumers connect with farmers close to home.

The website, located at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/asap/resources/farmdirect/, is the online version of the first edition of the Central Illinois Farmer to Consumer Directory.

June 10, 2003

URBANA--Growing and marketing small grains will be the focus of the Small Grains Twilight Field Day on June 24 at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Station, 14509 University Rd in Shabbona.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a light supper, while Jim Quinton, director of the Illinois Wheat Association, provides a "Small Grains Market Outlook." Michael Richolson, district conservationist, for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, will discuss "Fitting Small Grains into the Farm Bill."

June 11, 2003

The Illinois Watershed Management Clearinghouse has just unveiled a new website. Combing the resources of University of Illinois Extension, Illinois EPA, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and C-FAR this new website promises to provide a one stop location for those interested in Illinois watersheds and their management.

"We wanted to make it simple and easy to navigate for those looking for information," said Susan Meeker, University of Illinois Extension Educator. "Now people can go to one place."

June 9, 2003

URBANA—Using options to manage summer price risk in soybeans is one alternative producers could consider as there is potential for much lower prices should a favorable growing season unfold, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

June 6, 2003

URBANA—A series of seven pasture walks on the theme “Focus on Pasture: An Illinois Sustainable Dairy Approach” will be held this summer and fall sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

“Dairy and livestock producers interested in learning more about Management Intensive Grazing (MiG) will want to consider attending one of these walks,” said Michael Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist.

Dates and locations for the pasture walks are:

June 5, 2003

URBANA-Illinois is not considered a leading state in wine production. But University of Illinois researchers Bob Skirvin and his team ask the question why not? Skirvin’s recently completed research on grape growth in Illinois showed that Illinois has all the resources to be a successful wine producing and grape-growing state.

June 2, 2003

URBANA—Live hog prices are expected to average in the low to mid-$40s this summer and drop back to the very high $30s to low $40s for the fall, said a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

Date: June 2, 2003

URBANA - A tour of several organic farms in Woodford County will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Monday, July 14. Terra Brockman, president of The Land Connection Foundation and other local farmers will host the tour that will visit successful, diverse, organic farms.

May 12, 2003

URBANA - Milk production was up by 2.6 percent in the United States in 2001, but milk consumption was up only about one percent, leading to a milk surplus, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

“We are still producing more milk and milk products for the U.S. market than will be consumed,” said Michael Hutjens, who reviewed the U.S. milk consumption patterns during June Dairy Month.

Illinois, however, continues as a “milk deficit” state, he added. The state produces less milk than it consumes.

May 28, 2003

URBANA—Record-low prices, continuing production challenges and tough competition are among the challenges faced by Illinois dairy producers, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist as he reviewed the industry in conjunction with June Dairy Month.

“Prices paid farmers for milk are at a 30-year low with no light visible at the end of the tunnel,” said Michael Hutjens. “Our dairy managers need a price of $13 per hundredweight to cover the costs of production. Their base price today is $10 to $11.”

May 27, 2003

Urbana - Corn prices have now given back much of the recent gains, with July 2003 futures trading near $2.40 after spiking to a high of $2.59. A continuation of generally favorable weather for new crop development might be expected to push July futures under $2.35, and perhaps back to the late April low near $2.30, according to University of Illinois Extension Economist, Darrel Good.

May 22, 2003

Urbana - Using an inexpensive, low-tech gravity tank in a swine manure liquid-solid separation process will help producers control swine odor and keep phosphorus and potassium levels in the soil under control.

"The gravity tank is the cheapest way to separate liquids from solids," said Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension specialist in environmental engineering. But it's not just cheap. It's effective, according to U of I research.

May 21, 2003

URBANA--To anticipate possible problems from global warming, researchers at the University of Illinois have launched a research project known as SoyFACE that can mimic the content of the atmosphere in the year 2050 and assess how those changes will affect crops.

May 20, 2003

URBANA - For over 130 species of birds, getting bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus can be fatal. And, although crows and jays appear to be hardy, aggressive birds, there is something about their immune system that makes them "differentially susceptible to the virus" said Jeff Brawn, a University of Illinois researcher. Brawn has been working with medical entomologists for the last year to study the effects of the virus on bird populations. He hopes to study how the virus will cause an evolutionary change in the crow’s immune system.

May 20, 2003

URBANA--Although the extent of the problem has varied from year to year, the soybean aphid has recently become a pest throughout the Midwest. The aphids were first discovered in large numbers in soybean fields near the end of the 2000 growing season. After careful scientific investigation, they were identified as Aphis glycines, which had previously been reported only in Asia, Australia, and some Pacific islands.

May 21, 2003

URBANA—Ryan Hobson of Chatham has been named West Central Regional Director for University of Illinois Extension. He has served in the region since 2000 as associate regional director and, since March 2002, interim regional director.

Date: May 20, 2003

URBANA -- Al Morgan of Clinton, Illinois holds the patent on a foam mulch that he hopes will become an alternative to herbicides for vegetable farmers and black plastic for organic farmers. He received a grant from the USDA Small Business program and approached researchers at the University of Illinois to test the product and provide an unbiased evaluation.

Date: May 20, 2003

URBANA -- The new active ingredient, mesotrione, contained in the pesticide product Callisto herbicide could be a replacement for atrazine on sweet corn and popcorn crops according to a research project underway at the University of Illinois. Syngenta, the chemical company that registered the new herbicide, cooperated with U of I researchers to evaluate the product's safety and effectiveness on sweet corn varieties.

Date: May 20, 2003

URBANA -- According to a University of Illinois researcher, setting a threshold for weed tolerance in vegetable crops is the key to helping farmers decide when or even if they should apply herbicides.

"The threshold for controlling insects is determined from performing sweep nets or other means to collect and count insects," said John Masiunas, "but there isn't the same widely-accepted threshold for weeds."

May 20, 2003

URBANA—Recent price strength provides an opportunity for producers to advance sales of both old and new crop corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“The strong basis in some areas and inverted futures market suggests that all old crop inventory should be sold,” said Darrel Good. “Long positions to speculate on summer weather markets may be less costly in the futures market than in the cash market under the current price structure.

May 16, 2003

URBANA—Neal R. Merchen, who has been on the University of Illinois faculty since 1981, was named Head of the Department of Animal Sciences on May 15 by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Merchen has served as Acting and Interim Head since 2001.

May 14, 2003

URBANA—Total, noncapital living expenses for Illinois farm families rose an average 2.9 percent between 2001 and 2002 and are up 4.5 percent since 2000, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

May 13, 2003

Urbana - The increased risk of respiratory disease and a farm fatality rate significantly higher than general industry are just two of the problems faced by farmers and farm workers today. These and a myriad of other topics have been addressed in a three-year agricultural health and safety study coordinated at the University of Illinois.

May 13, 2003

URBANA—Prices of corn, soybeans, and wheat will continue to be influenced by a number of factors, but the projection in a May 11 USDA report were generally less bullish than expected, particularly for corn and soybeans, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

The comment by Darrel Good came as he reviewed the USDA’s May update of projected U.S. and world crop supplies and consumption.

May 12, 2003

URBANA-Most Illinois farmers face a May 31 deadline to submit a "Proof of Claim" in order to receive their share of a $110,000,000 national settlement recently approved by the U.S. District Court in Chicago, said Don Uchtmann, University of Illinois Extension agricultural law specialist.

"Although quite a few Illinois producers have submitted their claim, many others are eligible to participate in the StarLink settlement and receive about $1 or $2 per acre, maybe more, for each acre of non-StarLink corn harvested as grain in 2000," said Uchtmann.

May 12, 2003 Urbana--The 2003 Illinois Forage Expo will be held on July 1 at the north edge of Macomb. The center of operations will be the Western Illinois University Livestock Center, located one mile west of Route 67 on Tower Road (N1400) at the intersection of Tower Road and Wigwam Hollow. The Forage Expo will focus on both forages for grazing and harvesting systems.

May 8, 2003

URBANA—A Jersey County beef cattle enterprise will host two University of Illinois Extension events this summer. On June 4, the Wock Angus Farm will be the site of a pasture walk demonstrating grazing grasses from 9 a.m. to noon, and on Aug. 21 it will host an Area Cow-Calf Field Day. The Wock farm is located three miles south of Jerseyville on Illinois 109.

May 7, 2003

“Widespread rains across Illinois since April 28 and into early May, and heavier amounts in northern Illinois, which needed it most, should alleviate drought concerns. Northern Illinois had been under drought conditions through the end of April,” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

May 7, 2003

URBANA--For years, specialists from University of Illinois and Purdue University Extension have provided training sessions and study materials which help producers and grain handlers understand and effectively manage stored grain pests.

Experts from the both Universities recently combined efforts to produce a self-study CD-ROM that provides a convenient way for both client groups to learn about stored grain pest management at their own pace, either at home or at the office.

May 6, 2003

URBANA—A pasture walk and discussion will be held at 6 p.m., June 2 at a sheep farm in Arrowsmith. Hosting the University of Illinois Extension-sponsored event is Elton Mau.

“The Mau family runs 48 mature Rambouillet and Dorset ewes and their lambs on 7.5 acres of intensively managed pasture,” said Richard Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist. “Mau started grazing sheep in 1996 with the idea of ‘making money while not taking a lot of time.’

May 6, 2003

URBANA--"Market dairy cows, a significant source of ground beef in the U.S., have a surprisingly high prevalence of salmonella," said Fred Troutt, professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois.

"Adding to this concern, the number of infected cattle often increases as the animals move from the farm to the slaughterhouse,” he said.

As a member of the Food-Animal Production Medicine Consortium, Troutt participated in two national studies on the prevalence of this bacteria in market dairy cattle.

May 6, 2003

Source: Contact:

URBANA—Market attention will focus on conditions for new crop corn and the uncertainty surrounding old crop soybeans in reviewing USDA reports due next week, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

May 2, 2003

URBANA—Exercising leadership in the face of a changing, uncertain future is the theme of “Building a Brighter Future: Creating a Climate for Change,” the fifth annual statewide leadership conference sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The conference will be held June 10 at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign.

April 25, 2003

Four universities collaborated to produce a new, CD-based resource called “Pastures for Horses: A Guide to Rotational Grazing.” Created by equine specialists at the Universities of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, it addresses every aspect of pasture management to lower costs and maximize the nutritional value of forages for horses.

April 30, 2003

URBANA—Total costs to produce corn per acre in Illinois dropped an average of 5 percent from 2001 to 2002 and total per acre costs for soybeans also dropped over the same period, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

April 29, 2003

URBANA—It is likely that the trading range of November 2003 soybean futures will be expanded and that the expansion will come from a new life-of-contract high, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

“It is not clear when over the next six months a new high would come, or what factors would contribute to higher prices, although U.S. crop concerns would be one candidate,” said Darrel Good.

April 28, 2003

URBANA - Although mass plantings of red and yellow tulips in city parks are beautiful and a few well-placed trees surrounded by mulch in a parking lot provide shade for a car or two while breaking up the monotony of the asphalt, according to Lawrence Hanks, a University of Illinois entomologist, unless they are ruthlessly sprayed with insecticides they are sitting ducks for insect infestations.

April 25, 2003

Urbana - In the war in Iraq, the U.S. military used unmanned vehicles for reconnaissance and scouting. In the war against weeds and insects, University of Illinois researchers are using an unmanned vehicle as well--a miniature helicopter.

The Illinois Laboratory for Agricultural Remote Sensing is using a 4-foot by 3-foot, remote-controlled helicopter to generate maps for precision agriculture. A camera, mounted on the front of the helicopter, takes color and infrared field-map images, said Lei Tian, U of I agricultural engineer.

April 24, 2003

URBANA--With support from the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board, scientists at the University of Illinois have continued to track the distribution and abundance of a wide variety of soybean pests across the state during the past year.

Lead researchers on the project are agricultural climatologist Scott Isard from the Department of Geography and entomologists Joseph Spencer and Eli Levine from the Illinois Natural History Survey.

April 24, 2003

DO NOT USE BEFORE 10 P.M., APRIL 24

URBANA—A plant pathology researcher and teacher, an agricultural economist who has served in over 35 countries, and a internationally-recognized soybean molecular biologist will receive the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science’s (ACES) prestigious Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards April 24 at the college’s annual awards banquet. Other awards will go to College of ACES alumni, faculty, and staff for achievement and contributions.

High school seniors who will be entering the College of ACES as a freshman during the 2013-2014 academic year are invited to apply for one of our Jonathan Baldwin Turner Scholarships. An on-campus interview is a required part of the selection process for the JBT Scholarship. The online application may be found at ACES Scholarships. The final deadline to submit an application and select an interview date will be February 1, 2013. For more information please call 217-244-4540.

URBANA- Herbicides are designed to selectively kill weeds in crops. At the same time, it is difficult for most herbicides to selectively control weeds that are closely related to certain major crops, such as grass weeds in corn and wheat and broadleaf weeds in soybeans and cotton.

URBANA – Higher commodity prices, weather extremes, and increasing input costs have made for a challenging year for beef producers. “Drought-induced struggles and high feed costs are the two big hurdles for producers to overcome, but if they can maintain the cow herd, they are likely to see higher profits in the years to come,” said Travis Meteer, a University of Illinois beef extension educator.

Reception begins at 5:15 PM with dinner and program following

Contact:  Geri Goldberg (217) 333-8394

Feeding mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) can fine-tune the immune system of pigs, suggests a new University of Illinois study.

"When it comes to keeping pigs healthy, there are some potentially powerful tools we can use in the diet besides antibiotics," said James Pettigrew, U of I professor of animal science. "We have a tendency to think that we can administer health through a needle, by giving pigs antibiotics, and even through systems like all-in/all-out pig flow. These are important, but there are also many health benefits we can realize through the diet."

If someone agreed to buy your home as is a year from now, you'd likely cancel the kitchen remodel. According to a study at the University of Illinois, Kentucky tobacco farmers adopted that same logic when the tobacco companies announced the buyout — also known as the Tobacco Transition Act of 2004 that ended a 66-year-old federal farm program. However, the immediate drop in productivity was followed by startling changes. Over the 10-year period of the study, the number of farms declined from just over 40,000 farms to just over 8,500 farms — but productivity increased by 44 percent.

URBANA-The International Soybean Program (INTSOY) in the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois has been selected as the first recipient of the 2005 Bor S. Luh International Award from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

URBANA - Biofilters can dramatically reduce odors coming from livestock operations, clearing the air between farmers and their urban neighbors. According to University of Illinois research, the filter's effectiveness can be improved by the choice of materials used, and by maintaining an appropriate moisture level in the filter.

The University of Illinois announced today that Monsanto Company pledged a $250,000 grant to be put towards an initiative between the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College of Media to help establish an Agricultural Communications Program endowed chair that will strengthen communications for agricultural and rural development.

URBANA – There is a growing market in the U.S. for pork raised without antibiotics, including certified organic pork. A researcher at the University of Illinois has created a resource to help swine producers identify strategies that they can use to manage weanling pigs without using antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs).

Hans Stein, professor of animal sciences, has released a new brochure titled "Strategies for managing weanling pigs fed no antibiotic growth promoters." The brochure is the third in Stein's "Swine Focus" series.

URBANA – University of Illinois researchers have developed a model that uses neonatal piglets for studying infant brain development and its effect on learning and memory. To determine if the model is nutrient-sensitive, they have done some research on the effects of iron-deficient diets.
 

URBANA – A detailed annotation of the genome of T.J. Tabasco, a pig from the University of Illinois South Farms, is the outcome of over 10 years of work by an international consortium. It is expected to speed progress in both biomedical and agricultural research. U of I Vice President for Research Lawrence Schook said that the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences played a crucial role in getting the work started.

In 2001, Schook told ACES Dean Robert Easter that the USDA was getting well positioned to do this kind of research.

URBANA – The University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences will offer two 10-week online classes in 2013 beginning on Jan. 28.

Advanced Dairy Nutrition (ANSC 423) covers nutrient classes, phase feeding, dry cow feeding and health, and forages. The course will be coordinated by Mike Hutjens and team-taught by three other instructors.

Milk Secretion and Mastitis (ANSC 435) will be coordinated by Dick Wallace and taught by two other instructors. It will cover all phases of milk quality, secretion, nutrition, and mastitis control and prevention.

URBANA -- The Illinois Milk Producers’ Association will sponsor three regional dairy meetings in January 2013. The meetings will feature presentations by experts from the University of Illinois, the Midwest Dairy Association, and a panel of dairy producers. Program topics include feeding drought-stress forages, transition cow management, feeding update, and calf and heifer management.

Dates and locations are:

This two-day event is coordinated by students in the College of ACES to familiarize current and prospective students with faculty, curriculum, and student organizations. Prospective students will gain knowledge about the benefits of the College of ACES including study abroad and registered student organizations. This event is geared towards current and prospective students, but welcomes parents, families, and friends to attend. For more information, see the ExplorACES website.

URBANA – University of Illinois Extension will be offering the 2013 Small Farms Webinar series on Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m. beginning on Jan. 10 and concluding on March 28.

The Small Farm Webinar Series is a weekly on-line educational series for the small farm community. It provides practical knowledge on emerging topics to advance local food production in Illinois. This series of online events will look at how leading practices in production, management, and marketing help to improve long-term planning and sustainability.  

Join the College of ACES in celebrating the importance of agriculture in Illinois and thanking the agricultural partners that make the goals of the college come to life.

URBANA – Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may have affected humans for much longer than is currently believed. Alfred Roca, an assistant professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, thinks that the genomes of an isolated West African human population provide important clues about how the disease has evolved.

URBANA – Higher commodity prices, weather extremes, and increasing input costs challenged beef producers in 2012. “Drought-induced struggles and high feed costs are the two big hurdles for producers to overcome, but if they can maintain the cow herd they are likely to see higher profits in the years to come,” said Travis Meteer, a University of Illinois beef extension educator.

Seth Gallivan said he knew a degree in animal sciences from the College of ACES was the right choice for him. He practically grew up in the backyard of the University of Illinois, helping out with his family’s meat processing business.

“The U of I has given me a fantastic foundation of knowledge in animal sciences,” he said. “I have not only learned from my classes, but from many practical, hands-on experiences.”...

GallivanImage.jpg Seth Gallivan GallivanThumbnail.jpg Animal Sciences

Alison Beloshapka said graduate school provided her with the means to better the lives of cats and dogs through nutrition and the opportunity to visit new, exciting places.

Alison won the Waltham Student Research Award, which provided her with the opportunity to travel to Zürich, Switzerland, and Cambridge, Great Britain, to present her research. In the future, she plans to spend several months in Leicestershire, England, collaborating with researchers at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.

“I enjoy being at the forefront of new research in the field of companion...

BeloshapkaImage.jpg Alison Beloshapka BeloshapkaThumbnail.jpg Animal Sciences

Imagine petting a cheetah or playing with a baby black rhino. You could do just that on the College of ACES African Wildlife Study Tour in South Africa.

Marissa Josupait, a member of the 2011 study tour, spent her first three days in Pretoria, South Africa, visiting a local zoo and “frozen zoo” where she learned about research being conducted with wildlife in the bushveld, South Africa’s sub-tropical woodland.

Next, she spent six days in Kruger National Park. The group drove through the bush in the morning and afternoons looking for wildlife.

“We were out...

JosupaitProfile.jpg Marissa Josupait JosupaitThumbnail.jpg Animal Science

The road to veterinary school has many twists and turns, but the drive down it is all Rebecca Kolzow has wanted. During her time in animal sciences at the University of Illinois, Rebecca had the unique opportunity to study abroad in South Africa.

She gained hands-on experience that will help her in her future career.

“I learned behavior characteristics that are similar between wild and domestic animals,” she said. “Every day, we experienced was something new and we never saw the same thing.”

She said that while studying abroad her main responsibility was to...

Large.jpg Rebecca Kolzow thumbnail.jpg Animal Sciences

Jerry Cannon is finding innovative answers to help improve our food system as a Hormel Foods Corporation research scientist.

“It’s a great job with a great company in a great industry,” Cannon said.

Cannon oversees fresh pork research in Austin, Minn. His duties vary, but each day is interesting, he said.

“My duties include evaluating many factors that influence the quality, sensory and shelf-life attributes of fresh pork and the raw pork material that eventually becomes one of many Hormel branded products,” he said. “I assist in evaluating animal handling...

Cannon.jpg Dr. Jerry Cannon Cannon-thumb.jpg Animal Sciences

A research scientist serves as an expert in a specific area of research such as meat science. They provide technical and scientific advice and instruction to the company and its stakeholders. In addition, they identify project opportunities and plans while conducting research to develop new products and processes or modifying existing products and processes in support of the company’s goals and objectives. They identify, investigate and appraise new technologies and services that will contribute to improved operational efficiencies, yields, products or processes.

Lauren Welker of Mt. Vernon aspires to be a large animal veterinarian. With a solid course load already under her belt, this senior majoring in animal sciences was ready for an internship with hands-on experience to prepare her for the next step in her education.

This past summer, she completed a research internship at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center. After receiving an e-mail notification, she completed a short background questionnaire and submitted her resume. She was then chosen to interview for the position with the ACES Office of Research. Welker...

Lauren Welker Image.jpg Lauren Welker Lauren-Welker-THumbnail.jpg Animal Sciences

Few people receive phone calls about drunken hyenas or poisoned gorillas at their jobs, unless they work for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center.

Samantha Wright is a veterinary assistant for ASPCA’s 24-hour poison control hotline. She fields incoming calls from pet owners across the United States and other countries whose animals ingested potentially harmful substances.

“You don’t feel like you are stuck in a rut because every day is different,” she said. “You will come to work every day excited to learn...

sam-wright.jpg Samantha Wright sam-wright-tb.jpg Animal Sciences

A veterinary assistant is similar to a nurse in a doctor’s office. They acquire the background information about an animal’s condition, including its health history. Then, they consult with a veterinarian about the animal’s condition. This job is medical-based; however, it also has a human component. A veterinary assistant must cooperate with concerned or upset pet owners on a daily basis.

If you ate a sack lunch today, there is a good chance it included a branded product, like Oscar Meyer deli meat, Miracle Whip spread, or a Chips Ahoy! cookie. But do you ever stop to think about the people behind the products you enjoy?

Kyle Swigart, an associate principal scientist with Kraft Foods likes the variety his career provides.

“Every day presents the potential for a new project,” he said. “It keeps the job fresh, presenting new challenges and opportunities and giving me the chance, as a scientist, to find creative solutions.”

Kyle said his work...

Swigart-Headshot.jpg Kyle Swigart Kyle-Swigart-Thumbnail.jpg Animal Sciences

Associate principal scientists are an integral part of product development and pay close attention to the flavor, safety and nutrition of all products. They also provide leadership in developing short and long-term business strategies.

If you are not looking for a desk job, you might want to become a technical services director. Kevin DeHaan, a University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences graduate, interacts with farmers and ranchers on location through his work with Merial IGENITY, a company that provides genetic profiles to help beef producers make breeding, managing and marketing decisions.

“The best part of my job is the opportunity to work with some of the best beef producers in the country and the world,” he said.

DeHaan provides technical expertise for the IGENITY business and...

Kevin-DeHaan-Image.jpg Kevin DeHaan Kevin-DeHaan-Thumbnail.jpg Animal Sciences

From telecommunications to agriculture, a technical service manager or director provides technical guidance for products and services. This person delivers important information to end-users by phone, e-mail and personal communications, acting as liaison between the clients and the product development teams. Moreover, a technical services director is often involved with customer service. Despite recent economic woes, a 2010 study by the Association of Support Professionals found these positions to be practically recession-proof. The median salary was about $70,000, a $10,000 increase in just one year.

Don’t be bound by borders when it comes to your education. Australia offers unique and exciting animal science experiences to University of Illinois students.

During her six-month stay, animal sciences student Anna Skorupski used passive integrated transponders, or PIT, tags to tag microbats. This tracking device allows researchers to study the bats’ movements such as where they roost. Females tend to sleep in the same bat boxes whereas the males disappear. Researchers hope to understand the habits of male and female microbats through this study.

In addition, she...

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The University of Illinois offers outstanding post-graduate programs that give opportunities to students who wish to gain an advanced education. Matthew Leslie took advantage of this opportunity by becoming a Veterinary Medical Scholars Program (VMSP) student at the U of I Veterinary School.

Matthew, pathobiology Ph.D. candidate, said working in the VMSP is both rewarding and eventful.

“No two days are alike. Whether it is rotating through clinics out at Vet Med, or running experiments in the lab, there are always new problems to be solved,” he said.

Matthew...

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Ronald Stewart was given one responsibility during a summer educational study abroad trip to South Africa – to learn. The trip gave him a first-hand look into the range of work within the field of veterinary medicine.

“My study abroad trip provided me with a lot of useful information about different animals and their behaviors,” he said. “The best part was that we were allowed to interact with the animals in their natural environment.”

In order to participate in the trip, Ronald applied for scholarships, went through interviews, and attended meetings. The U of I...

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Blaine Melody said the most challenging, yet gratifying, part of his experience as a dairy intern at the American Farm School (AFS) in Thessaloniki, Greece, was the language barrier.

“If you enjoy charades, then you would absolutely enjoy the challenge to communicate as much as I did,” he said. “You know it’s going to be a good day when two middle-aged Greek men are trying to act out a cow in heat.”

In Greece, Blaine helped manage a dairy of about 120 milking Holsteins. He fed the cows in the morning, worked with the veterinarian during the middle of the day, and then...

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Working with cattle, riding bobcats, and conducting vaccinations were all part of a day’s work for Ashley Kloth during her Dixon Springs Summer internship at Dixon Springs Agricultural Center.

Ashley, an alumna of animal sciences, said the internship helped her realize that she wanted to work with livestock animals.

“The experience confirmed the fact that I want to focus on livestock, especially cattle, in my career,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would be content with such a position like this for the rest of my life.”

The Dixon Springs program gave...

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Nichole Avery gave the University of Illinois Young Scholars Program (YSP) two-thumbs up. YSP jumpstarted her research career and kindled her newfound passion for oncology, a branch of medicine that studies tumors.

“Oncology is an extremely interesting and exciting field. I would not be involved in this field if it were not for YSP,” she said. “Through this program, I have gained valuable research experience that will be useful in my future career.”

This fall, she is attending the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine to follow her passion. Avery’s promising research...

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Few animal science internships have celebrity guest appearances. But Kyle Granger Jr. had the opportunity to see comedian Kevin James at his Midwest “Zookeeper” premier at the St. Louis Zoo.

Granger, an East Saint Louis native, conducted outreach programs through the zoo’s education department. He educated children and adults about worldwide conservation programs and the animals they protect.

“I enjoy reaching out to the community,” he said. “And when we teach the children and others about our animals, I educate myself as well.”

He believes that the...

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James Karnia knew he wanted to be a veterinarian in grade school from the moment he saved a rabbit from a window well.

Today he is working towards becoming a veterinarian at the University of Illinois through animal sciences courses and his participation in the New Biology Fellows program, a mentor-guided research program for undergraduate students.

“This experience helps students discover career opportunities or work towards their career goals,” he said. “It turns students into much better candidates for graduate school and employment. It gives students an...

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Aspiring veterinary student Hilary Levitin grew up in Chicago with a dog and lots of frogs. This was the closest she had come to working with animals before attending the University of Illinois.

“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian, and my high school anatomy and physiology class made me even more confident I was on the right track,” Levitin said. “I’m definitely the black sheep of the family – no one in my family shares my passion.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in animal science in May 2010 and is now working at a vet clinic preparing to apply for...

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When your ultimate goal is to be a veterinarian, the University of Illinois is a great option that offers the opportunities of a large, research institution with the close-knit feeling of the College of ACES, said Dagmara Lukaszek.

“If you think you’re not comfortable with the thought of going to a huge school such as the U of I, I’d give it another thought,” she said. “ACES has a really small school feel to it. By the time I graduated, I knew a majority of the students in my major and each of my professors.”

Lukaszek originally planned to become a small animal...

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A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine completes four years of training at the University of Illinois. During the first two years, students study veterinary anatomy, physiology, microbiology, immunology, parasitology and pharmacology. In their third year, students participate learn diagnostic and surgical skills in medicine and surgery course laboratories. Fourth year students complete clinical rotations. Licensure requirements are determined by individual state veterinary medical boards.

If sitting in a classroom doesn’t spark your interest, seize the opportunity to learn in the field through a study-abroad program.

Claire Butkus, a junior in the Department of Animal Sciences, studied ecology and conservation in South Africa through the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS).

Butkus said students should do their research to discover the program that’s right for them.

“You must find a program that fits your personality and learning style that will allow you to have the study-abroad experience you want,” Butkus said. “The study-abroad office...

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University of Illinois dairy science graduate Rod Stoll appreciates that his tuition bill in 1989 looks different than tuition bills today. Yet, he understands what it’s like to attend college on a tight budget because he was in that same position as a student.

“I still feel extremely blessed and indebted by scholarships I received (Jonathan Baldwin Turner Scholarship and the Child of Veterans Tuition Scholarship),” Stoll said. “It would be a fascinating exercise to calculate the true financial return on my U of I investment. Although I don’t have access to all the variables...

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A vice president of public relations serves as the primary relationship manager within their company’s industry. They are often responsible for legislative affairs, corporate contributions, customer initiatives and special stockholder outreach initiatives. The position assists with corporate communications as well.

Several ACES students brave the summer heat each year to complete research-based internships at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC).

Adam Schroeder, a student in animal sciences, completed an internship at DSAC that focused on cattle production. His daily responsibilities included feeding and maintaining the health of 900 beef cattle.

“This internship allowed me to gain experience in the cow-calf industry, as well as become more accustomed to research,” Schroeder said. “Working daily with such a large number of cattle has made me much more comfortable...

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Jeff Firkins quenches his thirst for knowledge as an animal sciences professor at The Ohio State University.

“I judge every day based on whether or not I learned something,” said Firkins, a University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences graduate. “The best part about my job is that almost every day I learn something that I didn’t know the day before.”

Firkins has a 70 percent research and 30 percent teaching appointment. He studies dairy nutrition, including alternatives to starch, digestibility and rumen microbial production.

“Becoming a professor is...

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A professor at a college or university may serve as a teacher, researcher and/or expert. As a teacher, a professor educates students about a subject. They create lesson plans, lecture, grade exams and much more. In addition, they may research a number of topics relating to their subject area which often requires them to apply for grants to fund their research. Finally, a professor may serve as an expert. It is their responsibility to be a source for articles, an expert witness for trials and a resource for the public.

Gregg Rentfrow, a graduate of the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences, said his degree allowed him to marry practical knowledge with science.

“I learn better by doing, so the hands-on experiences I received in U of I laboratories and on the meats judging and meat evaluation teams helped me tremendously,” said Rentfrow, a University of Kentucky (UK) meat science assistant Extension professor.

Rentfrow said he believes his career is a calling. 

“I work closely with Kentucky’s meat processors, livestock producers, and local food entrepreneurs,...

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A professor at a college or university may serve as a teacher, researcher and/or expert. As a teacher, a professor educates students about a subject. They create lesson plans, lecture, grade exams and much more. In addition, they may research a number of topics relating to their subject area which often requires them to apply for grants to fund their research. Finally, a professor may serve as an expert. It is their responsibility to be a source for articles, an expert witness for trials and a resource for the public.

Animal science, agricultural economics, and pork production are just a few courses taught by Grant Grebner at Illinois Central College (ICC) in East Peoria, Illinois.

“I teach both transfer and occupational classes in a variety of areas and coordinate schedules, teaching loads and course content,” he said. “I also coach the college’s livestock judging and meat animal evaluation teams, and I serve as advisor to the Agri-Business Club and the Postsecondary Agricultural Students organization.”

Before joining the teaching staff at ICC, Grant worked on his family farm, was...

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At ICC, associate professors lecture, teach and test students on a subject. We also provide guidance to students pursuing a degree and career in that subject.

Craig Steck works with pork producers to help them produce high-quality, nutritious pork day after day.

“It’s a great job with a great company in a great industry,” he said.

It’s the day-to-day interactions with clients that Craig enjoys the most about his job.

“The producers I work with are self-made, successful, and intelligent people,” Craig said. “Being able to learn from them as well as add value to their businesses is extremely rewarding. Our interactions and relationships have made me a better consultant and have taught me how to be more successful in...

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Pork business consultants at Cargill, Inc. work with professional pork producers on nutrition, production, business processes, and risk management.

Cynthia Zavala, a student in animal sciences, received an e-mail about a new program at the University of Illinois and knew it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

She is one of the first students to participate in the New Biology Fellows program, a mentor-guided research program for undergraduate Latino students.

“I wanted to work with someone in animal sciences, so that narrowed my options pretty easily,” she said. “I chose to work with Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, a professor of animal science. We are researching the genes that cause growth in cattle in order to...

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For Kendall Annetti, of Park Ridge, IL, being a James Scholar is about doing what she loves, while gaining valuable experience and recognition through her project.

Annetti became a James Scholar her freshman year by submitting an application to Academic Programs. After receiving notification that her application was approved, Annetti began working on fulfilling her James Scholar requirements immediately.

During the past three years, she has taken chemistry 102, chemistry 104 and ACES 399, an honors seminar course to fulfill her honors course requirements. James...

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Former University of Illinois animal sciences student Dallas Duncan has completed four internships in the past six years, traveling from Mexico to speak with grain and livestock producers to Nebraska to work in a USDA microbiology lab. In her most recent internship with Trans Ova Genetics, Duncan traveled throughout the Midwest to assist with embryo flushes and transfers in cattle.

A graduate student in veterinary medicine, Duncan worked in three-week repeating rotations from May to August. She spent two weeks of each rotation traveling to ranches across the Midwest and the...

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When Blaine Melody started his education at the University of Illinois, he never dreamed he would one day study abroad in Greece. Let alone study abroad with dairy cows.

“The best decision I ever made was to choose animal sciences over biology,” Melody said. “And like many, I came in to the Department of Animal Sciences with a goal of becoming a small animal veterinarian. However, in my first animal sciences class I realized I had a passion for working with livestock and was good at it. I still love my dog and cat, but am more interested in a career as a large animal vet.”...

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Playing with wolves, feeding pelicans, and applying chapstick to a tenrec were just a few of Kaleigh Albers’ duties as a part-time zookeeper at the Scovill Children’s Zoo.

“My desire to learn about animals makes my job really enjoyable,” Albers said. “Being exposed to zoo animals has allowed me to learn about different species, including their species-specific behaviors, food preferences and attitudes towards people.”

Albers, a University of Illinois animal sciences student, also creates tactile, olfactory, visual, food, environmental and social enrichment activities...

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Katelyn Jones, a student in animal sciences, recently learned the value of work ethic and commitment during an internship at The Maschhoffs in Carlyle, IL.

She served as a summer nutrition research intern for The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family-owned pork farming networks in the United States, and studied liquid starter diets in weanling pigs. She also assisted the other interns with their projects and helped with an umbilical hernia study, floor space study, and a sire-line trial. 

Her favorite parts of interning with The Maschhoffs were the people she met and...

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Leigh McDonald of Northbrook, IL, never imagined she’d have the opportunities she has today as a surgical intern at the Champaign County Humane Society (CCHS). McDonald, a student in animal sciences, said her CCHS internship affirmed her desire to become a small animal veterinarian.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to help care for these animals,” she said. “Every day we get new animals in here that need our help. Some come from really rough environments, so it’s extremely rewarding to help them get adopted into good homes.”

CCHS is an integral teaching partner with...

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Aspiring veterinary student Hilary Levitin grew up in Chicago with a dog and lots of frogs. This was the closest she had come to working with animals before attending the University of Illinois.

“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian, and my high school anatomy and physiology class made me even more confident I was on the right track,” Levitin said. “I’m definitely the black sheep of the family – no one in my family shares my passion.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in animal science in May 2010 and is now working at a vet clinic preparing to apply for...

Levitin_0.jpg Hilary Levitin Levitin-thumb.jpg Animal Sciences

The typical college all-nighter may include studying for an exam or going out with friends. For Lacelynn Seibel, her all-nighters are spent in a barn, waiting.

Seibel, a student in animal sciences, can be found in the U of I horse barn from 6 p.m. to midnight or from midnight to 6 a.m., feeding horses, making sure the stalls are clean and well bedded, and waiting for signs that a mare is ready to deliver a foal.

“This may not be the easiest job with the late-night hours, but it is possibly the most rewarding,” Seibel said.

One story in particular stands out...

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Jackie McCarten is discovering her passion for humane education in the University of Illinois College of ACES’ Teachers for Creatures organization.

“Our mission in Teachers for Creatures is to promote humane education in the community and teach the community about companion animals,” McCarten said.

As president of this organization, McCarten hopes their club can educate the public about puppy mill awareness, feline overpopulation, anti-breed discrimination, exotic pet care, and other animal-assisted activities.

McCarten, a student in animal sciences, also...

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Interacting with endangered pandas at the Binfengxian Panda Research and Conservation Center in Cheng Du, China, was a dream come true for Jessica Kramer, a student in animal sciences. Kramer and seven members of Vets Without Borders spent 10 days at this research center gaining experiences they will never forget.

“Refuge pandas went to Binfengxian after an earthquake destroyed the Wolong Panda Center in 2008,” Kramer said. “Many pandas died, and habitats were destroyed. They moved the refuges to this center and opened it for public volunteers.”

As a volunteer, Kramer...

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You can’t put a price on an experience said Kellie Rucker, a University of Illinois student in animal sciences. 

“My study abroad experience was invaluable because I am pursuing a career that builds off experiences,” Rucker said. “If the U of I didn't offer these opportunities, my future could have been completely different.”

Through the U of I, Rucker traveled to Thailand to care for about 80 rescued elephants. Some were blind, and some had incorrectly healed wounds or infections from poachers sawing off their tusks.

“We provided daily care for the rescued...

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Arsema Weldu couldn’t wait to travel 8,500 miles to Pretoria, South Africa, to observe African wildlife at risk for extinction. Weldu, a student in animal sciences from Harare, Zimbabwe, said she’s been interested in wildlife for some time and found this program to be a good introduction to wildlife management issues faced by both animals and the people living around them.

Weldu learned about a variety of issues during guest lectures at the Pretoria Zoo, including problems faced when releasing animals into the wild after treatment. She also spent a week at the South African...

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As a little girl, Sarah Hardman always knew that she wanted to attend the University of Illinois. This Lake Land College transfer student is confident that following her childhood dream was one of the best decisions of her life.

Hardman, a student in animal sciences, said she knew from word of mouth that the U of I’s agriculture department and livestock judging program were two great reasons to transfer to the U of I.

She made her decision early on to pursue a curriculum at Lake Land that was designed to transfer to the U of I.

“My advisor at Lake Land and...

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Cheryl Morris, a graduate of the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences, said something interesting happens every day at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

As the Director of Comparative Nutrition, Morris is charged with managing the diets for the entire animal collection, in addition to developing diets that meet the specific needs of animals’ clinical conditions identified by the veterinary staff. These conditions may be simple weight issues or they may be complex conditions such as diabetes. 

“Developing diets to help improve the quality of life of animals...

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An animal nutritionist seeks to fulfill the dietary needs of livestock, zoo animals and pets. They evaluate the chemical and nutritional value of animal feed, supplements, fruits, vegetables and forage to provide animals with the best nutrition possible. They may also work with diet formulations, ration sizes, nutritional disorders, food preservation, animal feed studies, marketing strategies, and much more. Animal nutritionists can work at farms, laboratories, classrooms and commercial marketing firms.

Animal Sciences

The Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Honduras, Montenegro and Serbia are just a few of the countries Erika Voogd has traveled to for her indepe