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Local horticulture workshops
Logan County will be hosting two
workshops on horticulture topics. Both will feature David Robson, an
Extension educator in horticulture.
The first workshop, "Color in the Garden," is scheduled from 1 to 3
p.m. on Feb. 26 at the local Extension office. Reservations are
needed by Feb. 21, and you may call 732-8289 to make your
reservation. There is no cost for the program.
The second workshop is
"Environmentally Friendly Gardening," which is scheduled for March
10 at the Extension office. The workshop will be from 7 to 9 p.m.
Reservations are needed by March 6 and may be made by calling the
The last Logan County clinic for private pesticide applicators is
scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Extension office. The clinic
will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the training session. The Illinois
Department of Agriculture will give the exam at the conclusion of
the training session.
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Certification is needed for individuals purchasing and applying
restricted-use pesticides on ground that they own or operate. Most
of the rootworm insecticides and other pyrethroid insecticides are
restricted use, as are all atrazine herbicides.
Study guides are available at the office for $5 each. The guides are
an excellent way to do some studying at home prior to attending the
required for the clinic, as enrollment is limited. Reservations are
taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For producers who miss
this session, attendance at another county or testing in Springfield
will be required.
Newsletter prepared by Stu
Ellis of the University
of Illinois Extension in Macon County:
As the Southern Hemisphere crop takes
shape, marketing specialist
Darrel Good says the market will shift its focus to the stocks of
U.S. crops, which are expected to be adequate, but small, going into
the 2003 harvest season. The relatively small inventories mean that
the size of the 2003 crops will have very important price
implications. He says the dominant market factors will revolve
around soil moisture and crop acreage.
The National Weather Service
notes extensive dryness in many crop areas, including the Ohio
Valley and Great Lakes region. Darrel Good says a weakening El Nino
means a dry February and a wetter-than-normal March and April. But
Darrel says spring and summer moisture will have a greater impact on
crops than will current moisture levels.
the USDA will report intentions on March 31, based on a March 1
survey. Darrel Good says a number of factors will influence cropland
acreage and the mix of that acreage by crop in 2003. These include
the extent of weather damage to winter wheat, relative prices of
spring-planted crops and spring weather conditions.
Until planting time,
July corn futures have found support at
$2.35. Darrel says the early January high just above $2.50 may be
difficult to penetrate prior to spring. Volatility is likely from
March forward, as spring and summer weather conditions unfold. The
soybean market remains inverted, with March futures supported at
$5.44 and July supported near $5.35, because of the high rate of
export sales. March beans have a strong $5.85 ceiling.
If corn prices seem a bit low,
(ending ratio of stocks to usage is 10 percent) Kansas State
marketing specialist Bill Tierney says they are well below the
average for the last 27 years. He contends market factors over the
last seven to eight years have had a depressing effect on corn
prices. But he says the steepness of the "price response" curve
implies that any significant improvement in fundamentals could
trigger a dramatic and large upward "correction" in prices.
To market corn,
Tierney recommends an options strategy
of the simultaneous purchase of a put option and the sale of an
out-of the-money call option. A $2.40 December put cost 18 cents per
bushel, while a $2.70 call cost 9 cents per bushel. For the net cost
of 9 cents (plus commission) a producer could put a floor under the
price of corn while leaving open the potential to capture an
additional 30 cents per bushel if the market rallies to $2.70.
Tierney warns you about a possible margin call and using crop
revenue coverage insurance; see
here to download the Adobe Acrobat reader.]
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To increase your revenue,
consider custom fieldwork for landowners or other farmers without a
full line of production equipment. The primary issue is what fee
should be charged. The Farmdoc website provides comprehensive
machinery operation costs; see
machinery/field_operations.asp. Don't forget to add on 15
percent to 20 percent for your return to labor and management,
otherwise known as "profit."
How does your operation compare
with other similar operations? Don't just compare your crops to your
neighbor's crops, but compare your farm business to other similar
farms throughout the state. You can do that with a new tool on the Farmdoc website; go to
finance/benchmarks.asp. (Use with Internet Explorer).
The Farmdoc benchmarks
available so far are farm type (grain, swine, beef, dairy),
debt-to-asset level, tillable acres, total assets, net worth, value
of farm production, tenure level, farmer age, level of return on
farm assets, net farm income and (for hog farms) the value of the
farm. These comparison classifications are available for the past 10
Will a threat to the food supply
originate on your farm? The Illinois Terrorism Task Force has
identified seven ways that might happen: human threats, biological,
chemical, nuclear or radiological, explosive, incendiary, and cyber.
And the group says it can respond to an alert within an hour. But
the question is: "Who and what will sound the alarm?"
A potential food terrorism alert
may be sounded in two ways. If somebody tries to introduce soybean
rust into the soybean production system, one of the first protectors
might be the producer who sees something happening in the fields, or
it could be through satellite remote sensing picking up something
odd going on in a field. The task force is just now in the
discussion stage of a network that would collect and distribute
If you have a concentrated animal
feedlot, you'll want to
attend Extension's March 11 conference in Bloomington. Topics
include good neighbor policies, water runoff, federal assistance
funds, manure management and specie breakout sessions. Call (800)
345-6087 to preregister ($35) or send e-mail to Dr. Ted Funk at
firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
still uncertain, but
Congress is moving toward a disaster assistance bill for
agriculture, which would provide a payment equal to 42.25 percent of
2002 direct payments if a disaster threshold is met. Those levels
are still up for debate by the conference committee. The Senate
reconsidered a plan that would give money to all farmers, a
veritable public relations nightmare.
Ellis, University of Illinois Extension,
Beef prices and expansion
URBANA -- Cattle numbers
continue to drop, but there are signs that herd expansion may begin
later this year, said a Purdue University Extension marketing
"The cattle market is trading at lofty
levels, which makes it even more vulnerable to uncertainties,
including a potential armed conflict and a still shaky recovery in
the general economy," said Chris Hurt. "In addition, continued
drought in the Mountain States, as well as the central and northern
Plains, could keep cow slaughter much larger than anticipated and
reduce the number of heifers retained for replacements."
Hurt's comments came as he reviewed the
beef cattle market outlook. The beef cow herd inventory was reported
as smaller in the USDA’s January 2003 report on cattle. Now at 32.9
million head, the beef cow herd has dropped 7 percent since 1996.
The current beef cow cycle is now 14 years old, with the previous
low on beef cow numbers occurring in 1989.
"This very long cycle will likely come
to a close later this year, as producers have retained about 1
percent more heifers for replacements, with the number of
replacements that will calve in 2003 up 3 percent," said Hurt.
The number of beef cows on Jan. 1 was
down a modest 0.5 percent. In the eastern Corn Belt, numbers were
down 1 percent, led by declines in Illinois (down 19,000 cows) and
Ohio (down 20,000 cows). Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan each
reported some increase in beef cow numbers. Around the country,
small increases in cow numbers occurred in the western Corn Belt,
the southern Plains and the Southeast. All other regions had
"The northern and central Plains as
well as the western United States all had decreases due to the
pervasive drought that limited pastures and forage supplies in
2002," said Hurt. "Current drought indicators show no signs of
improvement in most of these regions."
For the dairy herd, cow numbers were up
by 0.4 percent.
"Unfortunately, there is still no sign
that producers are reducing cow numbers in response to the dismal
milk prices in 2002, which were the lowest since 1980," said Hurt.
"In addition to a slightly higher number of cows in production,
heifers being retained for breeding stock were up 1 percent. The
continuation of higher milk cow numbers is a sign of even larger
milk supplies this year."
With declining beef cow numbers and
increasing milk cow numbers, the total number of cows is down only a
modest 0.3 percent. The 2002 calf crop was down only 0.2 percent.
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Cattle-on-feed numbers were down 8
percent as of the beginning of the year. While placements in both
November and December were moving back upward, the number of
market-ready cattle coming out of feedlots will be small in coming
months. Carcass weights in 2002 were up 2.8 percent and accounted
for most of the 3.8 percent increase in total beef production for
"So far this year, beef supplies have
been down nearly 3 percent, providing the primary reason for
finished cattle price strength," said Hurt. "First-half supplies
will be drawn from the number of steers weighing over 500 pounds --
down 1.2 percent -- and heifers weighing over 500 pounds not headed
back for replacements -- down 1.7 percent. Second-half supplies will
be drawn from the number of calves weighing less than 500 pounds on
Jan. 1 -- down 1.3 percent.
"Beef supplies for the rest of the year
will also be influenced by marketing weights, by weather and drought
conditions, and the resulting rate of cow slaughter."
Cold weather limited gains this winter
and resulted in some delays of cattle coming out of feedlots,
contributing to the 3-percent drop in January beef production. In
the last half of the winter, there will be some "catching up" of
marketings, which will contribute to larger supplies. Beef
production may be down about 1 percent in the first quarter and down
2 percent in the second quarter. Heifer retention could begin to
accelerate in the second half of the year and, combined with
declining cow slaughter, may also reduce total beef supplies by as
much as 3 percent to 4 percent.
"Choice cattle prices are expected to
dim somewhat in the next few weeks as slaughter supplies increase
from the cold-weather delays," said Hurt. "However, prices could
still reach new highs in the very lows $80s in late March and early
April. The decline in prices in the summer is not expected to be as
severe as normal, with prices dropping back into the lower $70s by
the end of the summer. Prices in the fall are expected to move into
the mid-to-higher $70s."
Hurt said calf prices in the fall of
2003 are expected to recover substantially compared with last fall.
example, Oklahoma City 500-550-pound steers averaged $88.38 last
fall," he said. "If finished cattle prices remain strong, and if
feed prices moderate with 'normal' weather this summer, calf prices
could return to the very high $90s to low $100s per hundredweight."
of Illinois news release]
The Lincoln/Logan County
Chamber of Commerce will award two scholarships to high school
seniors or college students from Logan County who are studying or
will study agriculture for future careers in ag-related businesses.
Scholarship winners will be chosen
based on their commitment to agriculture as a future career,
academic performance, involvement in extracurricular activities,
financial need and work experience. The committee is particularly
interested in candidates who will return to the Logan County area to
pursue their careers.
Applications are available from the
Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce -- (217) 735-2385;
303 S. Kickapoo St., Lincoln, IL 62656 -- or at any high school in
applications are due to the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber office in
Lincoln by Friday, Feb. 28. Applications will be reviewed soon
afterward, and winners will be notified of their award. Winners will
be recognized at the Logan County Ag Day breakfast on Wednesday,