And, according to Randy Nelson, curator
of the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection at the University of
Illinois, that narrow genetic base could well limit future progress
to increase yields.
"In recent years, we have seen new
diseases develop, such as sudden death syndrome and white mold," he
said. "We also have found changes in the pathogen populations of
other diseases, such as Phytophthora rot and soybean cyst nematode.
Finding new genes for resistance to those diseases is critically
important for health of soybean production in Illinois."
He notes that the maximum genetic
diversity for any trait is most likely to occur in varieties from
China because the soybean originated there.
"During the time that the soybean
became a major crop in Illinois, we had no opportunity to exchange
germplasm with China," Nelson said. "In 1992, the Illinois Soybean
Checkoff Board, the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station and the
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service finally established a major
germplasm exchange with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. Over
the following eight years, this collaboration increased the number
of Chinese varieties in our collection from 2,900 to nearly 6,100."
Those new additions came from 27
provinces in China, representing all the soybean growing areas in
the country. Prior to 1992, nearly 80 percent of the Chinese
varieties in the collection came from only three provinces in
northeast China, and many provinces were not represented at all.
"Extensive research supported by the
United Soybean Board has now demonstrated the genetic uniqueness of
those exotic Chinese varieties and the value of that diversity,"
Nelson said. "Improved resistance has been found for nearly all the
diseases that have been evaluated."
For example, the highest known level of
resistance to sudden death syndrome was found among those varieties,
as well as new sources of resistance to soybean cyst nematode, white
mold, brown stem rot, Phytophthora rot and leaf-feeding insects.
Preliminary data also indicates that tolerance to drought may exist
in varieties from the area adjacent to the Gobi Desert.
[to top of second column in
"Ongoing genetic research is aimed at
determining how those new genes can be incorporated into the
commercial varieties grown in Illinois and across the country," he
said. "This exotic germplasm clearly has the potential to improve
the yield of the varieties that growers in our state will use in the
During the last six years, 14
experimental lines have been released for use by universities and
private companies to develop improved varieties.
"By making comparisons at the DNA
level, we can estimate how closely soybean lines are related, even
when we have no pedigree information," Nelson said. "Based on DNA
similarities, the major ancestral lines of the U.S. varieties have
been placed into six genetic groups. The new exotic parents
represent nine genetic groups that are distinct from those contained
in the major U.S. ancestral lines."
Nelson points out that the most recent
releases from this research were evaluated at nine regional
locations in 2001.
"One line derived from 25 percent
exotic germplasm exceeded the yield of the best commercial variety
by nearly 12 percent and was the highest yielding entry in the
test," he said. "Another experimental line derived solely from the
exotic Chinese lines equaled the yield of the best commercial
variety we tested. Those results indicate that the use of this
exotic germplasm from China has the potential to enhance disease
resistance, increase yield, and improve seed composition in the
Details on Chinese germplasm and other
research projects will be featured at Agronomy Day 2002 on Aug. 22
at the Crop Sciences Research Education Center, located south of the
University of Illinois’ main Urbana campus.
information, including directions and a listing of all of the
research projects to be presented at Agronomy Day 2002 visit
www.cropsci.uiuc.edu/agronomyday or call (217) 333-4424.
of I news release]
"This is an educational event for new,
beginning and experienced shepherds interested in learning more
about lambing and the events leading up to and following it," said
Richard Cobb, U of I Extension sheep specialist.
Topics covered include nutrition of the
ewe, lambing barn preparation and obstetrics, grafting methods,
raising orphan lambs, docking, and identification.
"The school is designed for maximum
‘hands-on’ experience and informal questions and answers," said
Joining Cobb as an instructor will be
Cliff Shipley, a clinical practitioner specialist with the U of I
College of Veterinary Medicine.
The cost is $30 per person ($20 for
each additional family member) and includes morning coffee and
donuts, noon meal, and educational materials.
Registration information is available
by contacting Cobb at 128 ASL, 1207 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL
61801; phone (217) 333-7351; e-mail
is also available on the Web at Illini SheepNet:
of I news release]
"The USDA’s August Crop Production
report will provide the starting point for refining these
expectations, but confidence in production prospects may be delayed
until the September or October report," said Darrel Good.
"History for those years when a small
crop occurs, or is expected, suggests that prices will experience an
early peak this year. The high may have already occurred, or it
could come as late as November, underscoring the difficulty of
making pricing decisions.
"I have advocated the use of an
averaging strategy on a portion of expected production to ensure
that at least some of the crop gets priced in the window of
opportunity for high prices."
Good’s comments came as he reviewed the
commodity markets and the potential size of the 2002 crops. Weather
conditions, weather forecast and production prospects continue to
dominate the corn and soybean markets. Last week’s price action was
dominated by talk of "irreversible" damage to the corn crop and
prospects for continued hot, dry weather over a large part of the
December 2002 corn futures traded to
the highest level for the summer and within 65 cents of the contract
high. November soybean futures regained much of the loss experienced
between July 23 and July 29 but remained well below the contract
high of $5.65 established on July 23. Weekend precipitation in Iowa
and parts of the upper Midwest, along with forecasts of cooler
temperatures, suggested that prices would start this week on a
"Summer weather conditions often
provide volatility to the corn and soybean market, but the almost
daily ‘yo-yo’ pattern of prices this year is a little unusual," said
Good. "There are at least two fundamental reasons for the pattern of
quick price reversals experienced this year. First, there is a
significant difference of opinion about yield potential for the 2002
Good said that forecasts by those
quoted in the press vary by as much as 15 bushels per acre for corn
and four bushels per acre for soybeans. For corn, the difference in
yield expectation represents about one billion bushels of
production. For soybeans, the range in expectations represents about
360 million bushels of production. The wide range of expectation
reflects the fact that crop stress had continued into the
reproductive stage of crop development.
[to top of second column in this
"A second reason for the large daily
price changes is that U.S. and world stocks of grains and oilseeds
are small enough that changes in 2002 production prospects have
significant implications for the magnitude of price that is
necessary to clear the market during the year ahead," said Good.
"Year-ending stocks of U.S. soybeans will be especially small, and
corn inventories will represent less than a two-month supply.
"There is little cushion for a
shortfall in production in 2002. The current situation is one that
has been anticipated for several years. Markets have become
accustomed to small inventories, and production has been large for
six consecutive years. However, market analysts have generally
warned that low inventories would translate into volatile prices if
and when production was threatened."
For corn, harvested acreage for grain
is expected to be near 72 million acres this year. At the low end of
yield expectations, about 120 bushels, the crop would total 8.64
billion bushels. Last month, the USDA projected a market for 9.96
billion bushels of corn during the 2002-03 marketing year if prices
averaged near $2.
"That combination of production and
consumption would project to year-ending stocks of about 300 million
bushels," said Good. "Inventories cannot be reduced to such a low
level, so prices would have to increase enough to reduce consumption
by 300 to 400 million bushels. The strength of demand would
determine how high prices would have to be to accomplish the
"At the high end of yield expectations,
about 135 bushels, the crop would total about 9.72 billon bushels,
resulting in ample carryover stocks of about 1.4 billion bushels.
Under this scenario, the average price would not likely be much
above the $1.90 average of the current year."
Harvested acreage of soybeans is also
expected to be near 72 million acres. A yield near the low end of
expectations, about 35 bushels, would produce a crop of 2.52 billion
bushels. A crop of that size would require consumption to be about
250 million bushels less than projected by the USDA last month.
yield of 39 bushels would produce a crop of just over 2.8 billion
bushels," said Good. "A crop of that size would result in further
reduction in inventories, but would allow use to be at the level
projected by the USDA. These two scenarios have very different price
of I news release]