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Extension announces March programs

By John Fulton

[FEB. 24, 2003]  Dr. Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois specialist, will present a program on "Federal Crop Insurance Decision Making" on March 4 at the Logan County Extension office. The program will begin at 7:30 a.m. and last until 9:30 a.m. Information will be provided on various Federal Crop Insurance program options and how to use decision-making tools to select the products that best fit your needs and your operation.

Contact the Extension office at (217) 732-8289 to make a reservation, and you will receive more detailed information about the program.


[photos courtesy of John Fulton]

Soybean cyst nematode clinic

In order to help producers determine levels of infestation with soybean cyst nematode, a soil evaluation clinic is scheduled for March 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Extension office. The clinic will focus on soil analysis of samples brought in by clientele.

Producers may submit up to two samples for free analysis. Additional samples will cost $5 each. Samples should be taken like soil fertility samples: depth of 6-7 inches, subsamples pulled from field, and enough final sample to fill half of a small lunch bag. If you are unsure of how to break down fields, I would recommend that you submit samples for areas that you are willing to manage separately. This means acreage blocks that you are willing to plant resistant varieties on.


Please feel free to contact the Extension office at 732-8289 with any questions that you might have.


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Certification for private pesticide applicators

Logan County has now completed its second and final clinic for the year for private pesticide applicators. Those still needing to attend a clinic have just a few options left for this year:

Feb. 25 -- Tazewell County, ICC Lecture Hall, 1 p.m.; training and testing

Feb. 26 -- Cass County, St. Luke Hall, 1 p.m.; training and testing

March 4 -- Macon County, Extension office, 6 p.m.; training and testing

March 7 -- Menard County, Extension office, 10 a.m.; testing only

March 10 -- DeWitt County, Farmer City, 6 p.m.; training and testing

The only other option is to make an appointment, drive to Springfield and take the exam at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Call (217)785-2427 for an appointment. The last word was that they were backed up about a month on appointments.

[John Fulton]

Logan County sets bean yield record

[FEB. 18, 2003]  It's official once again with the release of county yields for corn and soybeans by the Illinois/US Crop Reporting Service. Logan County had a county average soybean yield of 52 bushels per acre, besting the previous high by a bushel and a half per acre (set in 1994). In a year highlighted by spotty moisture and high heat levels, the Logan County average corn yield was 154 bushels per acre. The record corn yield, set in 1994, still stands at 181.

The top yielding county in the state for both corn and soybean averages was Carroll County, with an average corn yield of 179 bushels per acre and an average soybean yield of 57 bushels per acre. Other counties with high corn yields were Rock Island with 176, Mercer and Warren with 175, Knox with 170, and Henry with 169. Other counties with high soybean yields were Champaign and McLean with 54; Henry, JoDaviess, Rock Island, and Woodford with 53; and Logan, DeWitt, Iroquois, Piatt, Stark, Tazewell and Warren with 52.

The top producing counties, in terms of bushels, were McLean County for soybeans with 16,259,400 bushels of soybeans and Iroquois County with 49,027,400 bushels of corn. Logan County production was 8,320,000 bushels of soybeans and 28,043,400 bushels of corn.

The Logan County five-year average yields are 155 for corn and 49 bushels for soybeans. These figures are averages from 1998 to 2002.


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Following is a table of yields in 2002 from Logan and surrounding counties:

County 2002 corn yield (bu/A) 2002 soybean yield (bu/A)
Logan 154 52
Sangamon 153 51
Menard 155 48
Mason 140 47
Tazewell 151 52
McLean 145 54
DeWitt 134 52
Macon 134 49
Christian 140 49
State average 136 43

This has been another in a series of unusual years. Late rains really helped soybean yields, while corn was already shutting down when the rains came in August. The most deciding factors in corn yields were the lack of rainfall during July and the very high temperatures experienced from July through early August.

[John Fulton]

Weekly outlook on prices

[FEB. 18, 2003]  URBANA -- Both corn and soybean prices appear to be at an important juncture, having recovered from January losses but remaining below early January highs, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Seasonally, we are approaching the time frame when prospects for the 2003 U.S. crop may determine the fate of prices -- a point made in recent weeks and one that is underscored by prospects of small stocks and some early concerns about soil moisture conditions," said Darrel Good. "Everything seems to be pointing to more volatile prices over the next few months."

Good noted that trading ranges to date have been relatively narrow. December 2003 corn futures have had a trading range of only 34 cents. The smallest range in the previous 32 years was 54 cents in 1987. Similarly, November 2003 soybean futures have had a trading range of 90 cents. In the previous 30 years, the trading range was less than $1.15 only once -- 91 cents for the 1986 contract.

"Since Sept. 1, 2002, the trading ranges for the average cash price of corn and soybeans in central Illinois have been $0.575 and $0.885, respectively," said Good. "In the previous 30 years, the trading range for cash corn prices during the 12-month marketing year was $0.575 or less only three times. The trading range for cash soybean prices was less than $1 only twice."

It appears, Good said, that the trading ranges for spot cash prices in the current marketing year, and for new crop futures in particular, will be expanded.

"The more difficult question is, in which direction?" he said. "Given that December 2003 corn futures have traded to a high of only $2.69 and November 2003 futures have traded to a high of only $5.43, it appears likely that the trading range of those contracts will be expanded to the upside.

"It is a tougher call for old crop prices, but new highs in the cash soybean market have a high probability. It will be difficult for cash corn prices to exceed the early September 2002 highs."

Good's comments came as he reviewed recent actions in the corn and soybean markets. Prices for both commodities have recovered most of the declines experienced in mid-January.

The average cash price of corn in central Illinois declined from $2.39 on Jan. 8 to $2.22 on Jan. 14, recovered to $2.375 on Feb. 12 and was at $2.36 on Feb. 14. March 2003 futures settled at $2.4525 on Jan. 8, $2.305 on Jan. 13 and $2.4025 on Feb. 14. Similarly, the average cash price of soybeans in central Illinois declined from $5.755 on Jan. 8 to $5.41 on Jan. 16 but recovered to $5.665 on Feb. 14. March 2003 futures settled at $5.82 on Jan. 8, $5.49 on Jan. 16 and $5.73 on Feb. 14.

"All of the recent recovery in soybean prices has been the result of higher soybean meal prices," said Good. "Oil prices continue to be pressured by last week's increase in the USDA's projection of year-ending stocks. New crop futures have been strong as well. December 2003 corn futures have traded to the highest level since last October, and November 2003 soybean futures have traded to the highest level since last September."


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Corn prices, Good noted, have recovered even in the face of a fairly dismal pace of exports and export sales. As of Feb. 6, the USDA reported that the total of shipments and outstanding export sales was 14 percent smaller than the total of a year ago.

"For the current marketing year, the USDA expects exports to be only 3 percent smaller than shipments during the 2001-02 marketing year," he said. "The market continues to be hopeful that Chinese competition will diminish during the last half of the 2002-03 marketing year.

"Corn prices are receiving support from a rapid pace of domestic use of corn for ethanol production. Last week, the USDA raised the projection of corn use for fuel production during the current year by 20 million bushels, to a total of 920 million. That compares to use of 714 million bushels during the 2001-02 marketing year."

Soybean prices have responded to the continuation of the rapid pace of exports to China. The USDA now projects soybean exports to all destinations during the current marketing year at 940 million bushels, compared with 1.063 billion last year.

"However, due to the discrepancy between USDA and Census Bureau estimates of soybean exports so far this year -- the Census Bureau estimates are well below those of USDA -- the USDA also increased the forecast of residual use of soybeans by 15 million bushels," said Good. "In effect, the USDA is projecting exports at 955 million bushels, 10 percent less than exports of a year ago. As of Feb. 6, cumulative shipments were only 4 percent less than shipments of a year ago, and total commitments -- shipments plus outstanding sales -- were almost equal to the commitments of a year ago."

With year-ending stocks of soybeans projected at only 165 million bushels, the normal seasonal pace of exports cannot be sustained.

"It may be that the availability of South American soybeans will slow the pace of U.S. exports sufficiently so that U.S. stocks are not threatened," said Good. "The USDA now projects the current South American harvest at 3.24 billion bushels, 70 million larger than the January projection and 426 million bushels larger than last year's crop. Sixty-five percent of the increase is expected to occur in Brazil.

"For the 2002-03 marketing year, the USDA expects South America to account for 53 percent of world soybean exports, up from 42 percent last year. If the pace of U.S. exports and export sales do not slow soon, higher prices may be required to force a reduction in use, either export or domestic."

[University of Illinois news release]

Honors & Awards

Ag Announcements

Agriculture scholarships available

[JAN. 27, 2003]  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 Logan County.

Completed 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, March 19.

[News release]



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