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Speaker examines 2002 Farm Bill

[FEB. 27, 2003]  URBANA -- A nationally-known agricultural economist will deliver the inaugural lecture in agricultural policy established by the Leonard and Lila Gardner/Illinois Farm Bureau Family of Companies Chair in Agricultural Policy. "The 2002 Farm Act: Boon or Boondoggle?" will be presented by Bruce Gardner at 4 p.m. on Monday, March 3, in the Monsanto Room of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science's Library, Information, and Alumni Center.

Gardner, who is a distinguished university professor and chair in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at the University of Maryland, is a former president of the American Agricultural Economics Association and received the group's Distinguished Policy Contribution Award in 1994. He also served as USDA assistant secretary for economics from 1989 to 1991. Gardner is not related to Leonard and Lila Gardner.

After earning his undergraduate degree at the U of I in 1964, Gardner received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including "American Agriculture in the Twentieth Century: How it Flourished and What it Cost," published in 2002 by Harvard University Press.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

[University of Illinois news release]

Weekly outlook

Price patterns

[FEB. 25, 2003]  URBANA -- A pattern of shifting production expectations, magnified by current small inventories, could lead to more volatile prices for corn and soybeans over the next six months, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"The attitude about 2003 corn and soybean production prospects has recently shifted from concern about extensive dryness to expectations of improved moisture conditions, expanded corn acreage and large crops in 2003," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed corn and soybean price patterns. During the first half of the 2002-03 marketing year, these prices were in a relatively narrow trading range. Some additional and more detailed observations can now be made about the price patterns of old and new crop corn and soybean prices to date.

Since Sept. 1, 2002, the average spot cash price of corn in central Illinois has had a trading range of $0.565 per bushel. That figure is within the trading range experienced over the previous 29 years, although at the low end of the historical range. The smallest trading range was $0.445, in 1990-91, and the trading range was 60 cents or less in seven other years, most recently 2000-01.


"Both the high price ($2.785) and the low price ($2.22) to date are the highest since 1996-97 but are well within the experience of the previous 29 years," said Good. "The one unusual feature of the price pattern so far is that the post-harvest low occurred in January. A post-harvest low occurred in January only one other time in the previous 29 years (1979-80)."

The December 2003 corn futures contract has a life-of-contract high of $2.69 and a life-of-contract low of $2.35, for a trading range of 34 cents. Since 1973, the December futures contract has not had a trading range of less than 54 cents and has had a range of less than 70 cents only six times, most recently for the 1994 contract. The high price to date ($2.35) is at the low end of historical experience. Since 1973, the contract high was less than $2.75 only in 1986 and 1987 ($2.3525 and $2.16, respectively).

"The low price to date ($2.35) is at the high end of historical experience," said Good. "Since 1973, the contract low for December futures was $2.35 or more only seven times, most recently for the 1995 contract."

Based only on historical patterns, it might be expected that the average central Illinois spot cash price of corn would establish a new low before Aug. 31, 2003.


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"On the other hand, December 2003 futures might be expected to establish a new high and a new low before maturity in mid-December," said Good. "Such a development could likely be generated only by significant swings in weather and crop prospects."

Since Sept. 1, 2002, the average spot cash price of soybeans in central Illinois has been between $5.895 and $5.01. The range of 88 cents is at the low end of ranges experienced since 1973-74. The smallest range was 61 cents in 1985-86, followed by 91 cents in 1991-92. Recently, the smallest range was $1.055 in 2000-01. Both the highest cash price and lowest cash price to date are well within the historical range but at the highest level since 1997-98.

The November 2003 soybean futures contract has a life-of-contract high of $5.43 and a life-of-contract low of $4.53. The trading range of 90 cents is the smallest of the past 30 years. The previous smallest range was 91 cents for the 1986 contract, followed by $1.16 for the 1995 contract. Since 1996, the range has varied from $1.62 in 2002 to $2.40 in 1996.


The life-of-contract high to date ($5.43) is the lowest experienced in modern history (post-1973). The previous low was $5.565 for the 1986 contract, followed by $5.91 for the 2002 contract. The contract high for November futures has been lower every year since 1996. The life-of-contract low to date ($4.53) is well within the historical range but is the highest since 1997.

"Again, based on historical patterns alone, it might be expected that the average central Illinois spot cash price of soybeans would have an expanded trading range prior to Aug. 31, 2003," said Good. "Similarly, it might be expected that November 2003 soybean futures would have an expanded trading range prior to contract maturity in mid-November.

"History does not provide much insight on which direction the range might be expanded, except that the life-of-contract high to date for November 2003 futures is extremely low, even factoring in the influence of South American production. An expanded trading range for soybean prices could be generated by a number of factors, but the most likely factor will be 2003 U.S. crop prospects."

[University of Illinois news release]

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]

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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