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Central Illinois Ag announces field days

[AUG. 14, 2001]  Whenís the last time you got a chance to go to a real ag equipment field day sponsored by a local dealer? Remember? Equipment shows in a neighborís field, a complete lineup of shiny new models ready for you to climb in and drive, tillage demonstrations, maybe an ag personality you might bump into, easy parking, a short drive from home ó and it was all free?

Central Illinois Ag is hosting a pair of these "old style" field days during the fourth week of August. The events will be Wednesday, Aug 22, north of Havana, and Friday, Aug. 24, south of Pekin. Demonstrations begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. both days.

Mark McLaren, show coordinator recalls, "Most of us remember that sense of awe or excitement we felt when we saw that first new combine or tractor ó maybe at the fair, maybe being delivered to the neighbors or at the dealers."

"Farmers in the Atlanta, Farmer City and Clinton areas have known us for generations," says Steve Schmidt, president of Central Illinois Ag. "At Pekin, weíre still the new kid. We chose the Pekin area for the events so farmers in that area could get to better know us and what we have to offer."

According to Schmidt, Central Illinois Ag has grown dramatically in the past year. The company is the result of the merger of George H. Dunn, Inc. and Schmidt-Marcotte.

Those who plan to attend the field days are asked to call (800) 762-2325 by Aug 17. Your RSVP will help in planning the noon meal. Those who would benefit from attending the events include farmers and agri-business people.

Visit the Central Illinois Ag website at www.centralilag.com or call 1 (800) 762-2325 for more information.

[News release]

Whatís making those holes?

By John Fulton

[AUG. 13, 2001]  The past two weeks have created holes everywhere. They exist in yards and tree leaves. Of course we have been "run over" by anthracnose creating holes in tree leaves for a few months, but these holes are caused by insects.

There are huge numbers of defoliators (things that eat leaves) working on just about every kind of tree leaf that is left on the tree at this time. Telltale signs that you might have this occurring would include tree nests, stripped leaves (often leaving the vein of the leaf) and the many droppings from what were once your leaves.


We have had large numbers of caterpillars throughout the spring and summer. Conditions must have been right. The ones eating tree leaves include walnut caterpillars, eastern tent caterpillars, tussock moth larvae and fall webworms. This is just to name the more prominent ones. In this grouping, the ones that are easy to single out are the fall webworms. They expand their nest and continue to feed inside the webbing. The others leave a nest or cocoon and feed on leaves individually or in groups. Most noticeable are the eastern tent caterpillars that tend to work on a branch at a time and do it as a group.

The question most often asked is, "Will they kill my trees?" and the answer is, "Probably not." If we think about it, these insects exist every year in wooded areas, and very few of the trees die. If youíve ever been to Wildlife Prairie Park during a bad year, you can really appreciate the numbers of the eastern tent caterpillars you can come in contact with in a short period of time. Yet, those trees do come back year after year.


If you canít stand the sight of the caterpillars, donít want to look at naked trees any earlier than you have to, or want to get even with the larvae of the Lepidoptera order, you can control them to a certain extent. Most insecticides will provide control of the larvae. Insecticides included would be Sevin, diazinon, Orthene, Dursban, and B.t. as an organic control. For fall webworm, you can also clip off the nest area and burn it.


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The other types of holes that I referred to are in the ground. Some are exit holes (such as for cicadas) while others are entrance holes (as in June bugs and cicada killer wasps). Recently, both groups have been active. The cicadas can be heard regularly now. The wasp is a very formidable-looking insect approaching two inches long, but it is a relatively timid wasp that is not easily provoked. You will have to weigh the benefits of the wasp against the risk of getting stung. The wasp is actually killing the cicada, burying it and then laying eggs in it. A drench of liquid diazinon in the hole area or a general grub treatment would control the wasp.


That brings me to grubs. June bug, Japanese beetle and green June bug numbers have been very high in some areas. First places to check for grubs would be along walks, driveways and patios, as well as under security lights. If youíve kept your yard lush with water, youíll probably get more than your share of grubs. The beetles lay their eggs in the best-looking grass. Green June bugs are a little different. They tend to lay their eggs in organic matter such as gardens and flower beds. The treatment is best done with granular products of diazinon or Grubex.

[John Fulton]

Seven 4-H members win scholarships

[AUG. 10, 2001]  College scholarships were presented to seven Logan County 4-H members at the Logan County Fair last week.

Matt Duckworth, a graduate of Hartsburg- Emden High School, won the $500 scholarship presented in memory of W.G. Colburn. The late Mr. Colburn had been on the fair board for about 45 years and was president of the board about 36 years, according to nephew Warren Fink. W.G. Colburn was the son of Charlie Colburn, one of the original organizers of the Logan County Fair. Matt will be in the pre-veterinarian program at the University of Illinois.

Four scholarships, two for $750 and two for $500, were presented by the Logan County 4-H Foundation. A scholarship for $750 went to John Davison of Beason. John will attend the University of Illinois this fall.

Another $750 scholarship went to Jackie Bakker of Lincoln, who will also attend the University of Illinois.

A $500 scholarship was presented to Zac Tibbs of Middletown, who will attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. A $500 scholarship also went to Betsy Bakker of Lincoln.

A $500 college scholarship given by Graue Inc. went to Sarah Conklen of New Holland, and another $500 scholarship, presented by Xamis Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, was given to Andrea Martinie of Middletown.

[Joan Crabb]

Click here for links to Logan County Fair information.

Logan County crops ó a varied picture

[JULY 26, 2001]  Logan County has become a varied picture in agriculture over the past few weeks. With critical timing from the first week of July to date for corn, much-needed rainfall fell in some areas. Other areas were virtually shut out. Pictured below is an ear of corn with poor pollination due to heat stress at a critical time.

Also noticeable in area cornfields was the firing of lower leaves due to the heat and moisture stress, as plants protected themselves and continued filling kernels on the ear.

Insect damage was also seen, with rootworm beetles causing some silk clipping and corn borers riddling some stalks.


Soybeans have a critical point approaching as they start the pod-fill period. They continue to bloom, set pods and begin to make the seeds grow.



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Many insects, such as bean leaf beetles and grasshoppers, have caused some minor defoliation in the soybean leaves.


For the horticulturalist in us, we have seen the wilt virus transmitted by beetles in the cucurbits, such as pumpkins and cucumbers.


And lastly we have a problem we can take care of. That is damage by potato leafhoppers. It is indicated by a brown or black "V" at the tip of leaves. A simple spray treatment of diazinon or carbaryl will prevent further damage. This picture happens to be a rose.


Not all is bad, but it does make for some more dramatic pictures. If weather could be custom-ordered, it would involve about an inch of rain a week (and more than a tenth or two at a time would be nice), high temperatures of about 85 degrees and lots of sun.

The next items coming to Lincoln Daily News from the Extension office will be fair photos. The Logan County Fair will officially open on July 31 and will run through Aug. 5. The 4-H shows have already begun, with foods and clothing exhibited before the fair. Dogs will show on the Saturday before the fair, and most project divisions will be shown on the Monday before the fair. Hope to see you there!

[John Fulton]

New techniques keep streams
from carrying away farmland

[JULY 24, 2001]  "Ninety-three percent of Logan County is farmland, and 97 percent of that farmland is prime land ó thatís as good as you get," says Bill Dickerson. Preserving that prime black soil is a high priority for a group of local and national organizations.

[Click here for more photos]

A field day sponsored recently by the Logan County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Land of Lincoln Soil Savers gave area farmers a look at a new stream stabilization technique, one way to control soil erosion. These two groups, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Illinois Department of Agriculture are working on projects to prevent Logan Countyís waterways from carrying away its farmland.

"With three good-sized creeks in the county ó Salt, Kickapoo and Sugar Creeks ó itís a never-ending job," Dickerson says. As a district conservationist for the NRCS, Dickerson works closely with Logan Countyís Soil and Water Conservation District.

On Thursday he took a group of area farmers to a Kickapoo Creek site southeast of Atlanta, on farm ground owned by Dave Evans and Dan Koons, to explain a new technique called the stream barb system.


[These three rock projections are a new stream stabilization technique called barbs.  Pointing upstream, they work together to redirect the water in Kickapoo Creek toward the middle of the creek and keep it from undercutting the stream bank.]

What the farmers saw were three projections of large stone riprap jutting out into the creek, angling upstream, at a point where the creek had been cutting away the bank. The barb-shaped stone projections work together to catch the current and redirect it to the middle of the stream, away from the bank which is being eroded.

The project was completed in December of last year, and, according to the landowners, is working just as predicted.

"A few weeks ago, when the water was higher, I could see it working. I could actually see water turn and go back into the channel," Koons said.

Before the barbs were put in, he added, the bank went straight down, because it was being undercut by the creek at the rate of at least a foot a year. Now the stream bank slopes, maintaining the angle it was given by the construction crew that put in the new stabilization system. The bank is also being held in place by the natural vegetation that is beginning to grow there.

The new stream barb system is protecting about 600 feet of the bank of Kickapoo Creek, Dickerson says, preventing the loss of about one-half ton of soil per foot per year. That means 300 tons of prime topsoil is no longer washing down the creek, eventually ending up somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is the nature of streams and rivers to meander, traveling in a series of S-curves, as they slow down and broaden out their flood plains, Dickerson explains. Formerly, engineers tried to keep streams from eroding the land around them by straightening them out, a process called channelizing. Kickapoo Creek was channelized on the Koons-Evans farm in the mid-1970s, when the land belonged to a different owner.

But the channelizing couldnít prevent the creek from reverting to its natural tendency to meander, and it soon began cutting into the land again. (Itís now against federal law to straighten a stream.)

Today the idea is to work with nature, allowing the stream to meander but preventing it from meandering too much, Dickerson explains. "Moving water is one of the strongest forces on earth. We are now going with the natural force of the stream, rather than fighting it."


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Although itís the newest technique, the stream barb system on the Koons-Evans farm isnít the only system on Kickapoo Creek that is keeping Logan County soil in Logan County. Two different projects upstream, called bendway weirs and similar to the barb system, are on land owned by Rodney Alberts and Jerry Cisco. They were also installed with the help of Dickerson and the Soil and Water Conservation District.

These stream stabilization systems not only save soil, they also contribute to better water quality. They prevent streams from filling up with sediment and also prevent agricultural chemicals and nutrients from draining into waterways. Dickerson says the weirs and barbs are also good for wildlife. A degrading stream is sterile, providing little or no natural habitat. Rock bars, however, make good aquatic habitats, places for fish to hide or breed.

Dickerson explained the process of constructing the stream barb system to the group of about 30 farmers who came to the site, pointing out that the average cost of installing such a system on a Logan County farm would be about $11,000. However, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has a $1 million program in place this fiscal year (July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002) to help fund stream stabilization, and farmers who put in an approved system can get as much as 75 percent of the cost reimbursed.

Several construction firms in the area do the work, Dickerson said, and the NRCS is ready to help farmers do the paperwork. A steam stabilization project usually takes about a year from start to finish because of the permits required -- from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The NRCS has been doing stream stabilization projects for the past 10 years, along with a number of other conservation programs. These include no-till farming, which according to Dickerson has contributed more to soil erosion control than any other program, and the Conservation Reserve Program, the USDAís most popular conservation program. CRP allows landowners to take cropland out of production for as much as 15 years, getting payments of as high as $192 an acre for the idle land. The land can be put in grass for erosion control or planted with trees. Most land in CRP is already environmentally sensitive, Dickerson says, often located on a flood plain or on sloping ground.

After viewing the stream barb system, the farmers adjourned to the Atlanta Park shelter, where they heard a program by Howard Brown, agronomist with Growmark of Bloomington. Brown walks the fields, looks at crops for indications of insects, fungus and other plant diseases, and gives farmers an update on how the season is progressing and what to look for when making decisions for next yearís planting.

Brown said the yield potential for area crops this year looks good "if the weather is good from here on out."

Anyone interested in more information about stream stabilization or other conservation practices may call the Soil and Water Conservation District office at (217) 732-2010, Ext. 3.

[Joan Crabb]


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