There is an excellent set of materials
on the Farm.doc website for you to use in selecting products and
finding out about coverage options and cost. Go to:
Federal Crop Insurance should be viewed
as a tool to manage risk. It is especially important when we look at
the increasing frequency and amounts of cash rent in our area.
The next deadline is for farm program
sign-up at the FSA office, if you wish to prove yields. That
deadline is April 1. Essentially everyone will need to prove soybean
yields for the new program. If you haven't been in or made an
appointment, you should do so immediately since there is only a
limited amount of time left.
When you are considering options for
the farm program, check out the calculator on Farm.doc to assist
you. The URL is
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The West Central Region has designated
April 7-12 as Extension Week. Logan County has had Extension since
February of 1918. It began with a farm adviser named Elmer Ebersol,
who sold memberships in the combined Extension and Farm Bureau
system that remained in place until the 1950s.
The 4-H program began about 1920, with
the first 4-H clubs focusing on specific projects of swine and corn.
In 1923 a push began for clubs based on home economics, and the push
was on to identify volunteer leaders.
Home economics was added to Extension a
few years later with the first "home advisor." Focuses were on
running a household and home food preservation.
Logan County added an aggressive
Community Resource Development program in the late 1970s. This
program was responsible for many of the communitywide surveys done
in the early '80s. These surveys even led to removal of Lincoln's
parking meters around the square and municipal parking lots.
Extension continues to evolve as needs
of residents change. Major thrusts have begun in horticultural
programming, family nutrition programs and non-traditional youth
media releases throughout the next month will highlight some of
"This is a new tool that many producers
are looking forward to using," Gray said. "It comes at time when
crop rotation has not performed very well as a pest management tool
in many parts of Illinois because of the development of a variant of
the western corn rootworm that lays eggs in soybeans. As a result,
we have seen a significant increase in insecticide use throughout
much of the east-central part of the state."
He notes that the problems from this
variant form of the rootworm have continued to spread into parts of
northeastern and western Illinois, as well as sections of Michigan,
Indiana and Ohio.
"This new technology comes at a time
when soil insecticide use is very high, so growers are
understandably interested in using the resistant hybrids," Gray
said. "Soil insecticides generally cost about $16 per acre. If this
technology can be priced competitively with soil insecticide
products, I suspect there will be a lot of interest."
Gray cautions, however, that a critical
concern is how European customers will react to this genetically
"Growers must have a market for what
they grow," he said. "That is the primary concern out there right
now. We know that groups like the Farm Bureau have asked growers to
keep this issue in mind. Many grain processors are also very
concerned about this issue and will undoubtedly pass on those
concerns to local elevators. A lot of this still remains to be
He advises that before making their
planting decisions growers should contact their local elevators
about whether or not this new genetically modified corn will be
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"It is important to understand that we
have a major European corn gluten market," Gray said. "This market
is especially important for many growers in the east-central part of
Illinois. There are likely to be at least some elevators that will
refuse to accept these transgenic hybrids. It could well turn out
that much of the acreage planted to this new technology this year
will be in the western Corn Belt, where most of the production is
used for livestock feed."
Gray emphasizes that growers who
purchase corn rootworm Yield Gard hybrids will be required to plant
at least a 20 percent refuge of non-transgenic corn.
"There are some significant differences
from the 20 percent refuge used with Bt corn for European corn
borers," he said. "One of the most significant differences is that
the refuge must be placed within the field of transgenic rootworm
hybrids or directly adjacent to the field."
He points out that these tightened
rules are needed because of the considerable differences in the
mating behaviors of corn rootworms and European corn borers.
will be required to sign an agreement through the distributor when
purchasing transgenic rootworm hybrids," Gray said. "If growers
violate those rules, we could easily lose the advantages from this
important new technology."
of Illinois news release]
"Pork producers can't wait to
put low hog prices behind them, but the market this year has been
slow to respond," said Chris Hurt. "Help should be on the way,
although the spring rally may not be as strong as many had hoped."
Hurt noted that producers are
weary of losing money. In 2002, prices for 51 percent to 52 percent
lean hogs averaged about $35 for the year, and estimated costs of
production were $38.60 per live hundredweight. Losses reached an
estimated $9.60 per hog.
"The largest losses came in the
final quarter of the year, when they were over $8 per live
hundredweight, or $21 per head," said Hurt. "The situation is
somewhat better in the first quarter of 2003, with prices expected
to average near $36 and losses trimmed to an estimated $3.50 per
Disappointing prices in the
first two months of 2003 stem from a larger supply of hogs than had
been expected based upon USDA inventory reports. Pork production in
the first quarter of the year was expected to be only slightly
higher than during the same period last year. However, in January
and February, pork production has averaged 2.4 percent higher.
"Some moderation in slaughter
rates can be expected in March, so that the number of hogs coming to
market will be closer to even with year-previous levels," said Hurt.
"By spring, hog supplies could be down about 2 percent, based upon
last fall's farrowing numbers."
The USDA's "Monthly Hogs and
Pigs" report is also providing statistical support for slaughter
supplies to be lower in the spring. The size of the pig crops in
October, November and December (representing spring slaughter) was
down over 2 percent.
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"Hog prices should be on the
verge of a spring rally that could take live hog prices from near
the mid-$30s at the start of March to the lower-$40s by the end of
May," said Hurt. "If supplies drop as much as 2 percent for the
spring quarter, as USDA reports suggest, prices could average near
$43. However, a more realistic objective right now is an average of
$40 for the second quarter."
Summer supplies will be drawn
from sows farrowed this winter, when producers said they would
reduce numbers by 1 percent. If producers follow through, summer
supplies will be only modestly lower, and prices for the summer
quarter would average a bit under $40.
Data continue to point to a
breeding herd that is dropping slowly. Farrowing intentions for the
spring have been estimated at down 3 percent, and recent monthly
reports have shown the number of females bred in November, December
and January to be down by 2.7 percent, helping to confirm this
magnitude of reduction. If so, pork supplies could continue to drop
modestly into the final quarter of 2003, with prices averaging in
the mid- to higher $30s.
"The best news for now is that
losses are likely to be nearly over as the spring price rally sets
in," said Hurt. "However, prices cannot be expected to be high
enough through the year to provide much more than a break-even level
"Production costs may drop from near $40 per hundredweight at the
start of 2003 to closer to $38 with lower corn prices, assuming
near-normal corn yields this fall. Hog prices, on the other hand,
are expected to average about $39 for the year. After the large
losses experienced last year, it appears that a break-even year in
2003 will not enable producers to recover from those losses."
of Illinois news release]