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Weekly outlook

Soybean prices

[APRIL 29, 2003]  URBANA -- It is likely that the trading range of November 2003 soybean futures will be expanded and that the expansion will come from a new life-of-contract high, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"It is not clear when over the next six months a new high would come or what factors would contribute to higher prices, although U.S. crop concerns would be one candidate," said Darrel Good.

Good's comments came as he reviewed recent activity in the soybean market. The average spot cash price of soybeans in central Illinois reached a 2002 post-harvest low of $5.01 on Oct. 9, 2002. That price reached a high of $6.145 on April 17, 2003, and then declined by nearly 20 cents by April 25.

"The higher prices since mid-January have been driven primarily by the fast pace of U.S. exports and export sales, particularly to China," said Good. "As of April 24, cumulative shipments of U.S. soybeans for the current marketing year totaled 909.5 million bushels, according to the USDA's report on export inspections. Cumulative exports were 3 percent larger than at the same time last year.

"Unshipped sales as of April 17 stood at 98 million bushels, 2.5 percent more than outstanding sales of a year ago. Shipments to China through April 17 totaled 269 million bushels, 74 percent larger than cumulative shipments of a year ago. China accounted for 30 percent of U.S. soybean exports and eclipsed the European Union as the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans."

Cumulative shipments plus outstanding sales of U.S. soybeans as of April 17 totaled 999 million bushels. For the year, the USDA officially projects exports at 995 million bushels.


"However, accounting for the discrepancy between USDA and Census Bureau estimates of exports to date, the USDA has included an extra 10 million bushels in the projection of residual use of soybeans this year," said Good. "In effect, the USDA has projected exports at 1.005 billion bushels. That is still 58 million less than exports during the 2001-02 marketing year."

The post-harvest trading range in the cash price of soybeans in central Illinois has been $1.135. That is within the experience of the past 30 years, although at the low end of the range that has varied from 61Ĺ cents in 1985-86 to $5.20Ĺ in 1976-77.

"The recent price increase has accomplished the mission of establishing a trading range within the historical experience," said Good. "It is still unclear, however, if cash soybean prices have established a post-harvest marketing year high. In the short run, the answer to that question may be determined primarily by the pace of exports and export sales.


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"Sales and shipments are declining seasonally, but with 18 weeks left in the marketing year, the pace will have to decline sharply if the USDA projection is not to be exceeded. Typically, cumulative export sales at the end of the marketing year are 3 to 5 percent larger than shipments for the year, with the excess being rolled into the new crop year. In addition, in some years, cancellation of sales show up late in the marketing year. As a result, the rate of export sales over the next few weeks is important, but the rate of shipments may be a better indicator of export demand."

Using a projection of 1.005 billion bushels of exports for the year, shipments need to average only 4.64 million bushels per week for the remainder of the year to reach the projected level. During the last 18 weeks of the 2001-02 marketing year, shipments averaged 10.65 million bushels per week. Shipments over the past five weeks have ranged from 11.1 to 13.3 million bushels per week. A continuation of a high rate of exports would suggest prices need to move higher to slow the rate of consumption.

"If the pace slows sharply in the next few weeks, further price rationing may not be required," said Good. "Longer-term, soybean prices will be influenced by the prospects for the 2003 U.S. soybean crop. Producers have revealed plans to reduce U.S. soybean acreage in 2003, and the fairly rapid pace of corn planting may lead some to believe that soybean acreage will be below March intentions. Average yield, however, will be the key to crop size, and it is too early to project a yield very different from trend value."

While old crop prices have satisfied the historical trading range test, November 2003 futures have not. That contract has a life-of-contract low of $4.53 and a high of $5.43. The high was established in September 2002, but the contract traded to $5.40 on April 22.

"Two observations can be made about the price range," said Good. "First, the range to date of 90 cents is very small. The smallest range in 'modern' price history was 91ľ cents for the 1986 contract. The range for the 1999 through 2002 contracts -- a period of generally low prices -- varied from $1.62Ĺ to $2.74ĺ.

"Second, the high to date of $5.43 is very low. While the high price for the November contract has been trending lower over the past seven years -- from $8.25 for the 1996 contract to $5.91 for the 2002 contract -- a new high for the 2003 contract would not be a surprise. The life-of-contract low of $4.53 is within the experience of recent history --$5.85 for the 1996 contract to $4.05 for the 1999 contract."

[University of Illinois news release]

Crops update

[APRIL 28, 2003]  Currently Logan County has about 80 percent of the corn planted and about 3 percent of the soybeans. As is always the case, producers canít just plant it and forget it. Scouting for early season pest problems and stand counts is something that just has to be done.

Black cutworms are one of the most feared early season insects. Usually the cutworms donít affect a large percentage of acreage, but they can be devastating on the ones they do affect. Remember that black cutworms donít overwinter here. They are blown into our area as moths that lay eggs.

Based on moth captures in certain locations, it looks like the projected date of first cutting should occur after May 15 in the Logan County area. Cut plants are basically counted as stand loss in replant decisions. Treatment is usually warranted when at least 3 percent of the plants have been cut and you can find the cutworms present. Rescue treatments are available for black cutworms and usually work well. Recommended rescue treatments are one of the labeled pyrethroids or Lorsban liquid.

Sometimes cutworms will just clip leaves off corn plants. This may be due to the size of the larvae, the species of cutworms and the size of the corn. The first sign of cutworms being present is pinhole feeding on leaves.


Earthworm populations

A study that has just been completed by Eileen Kladivko from Purdue University deals with earthworm populations in different tillage systems. Why the interest in earthworm populations? Earthworms are normally considered an important part of a highly productive soil. They also improve both soil structure and tilth. Their tunnels provide for channels that can improve water and airflow movement. And the manure of earthworms increases fertility.


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The study dealt with different earthworm densities in silty clay loam fields near Purdue that had been under different tillage practices for at least 10 years. Continuous corn that was plowed had a density of 10 earthworms per square meter, continuous no-till corn had 20, continuous soybeans in a plow system had 60, continuous no-till soybeans had 140, bluegrass and clover sod had 400, dairy pasture with manure had 340, and dairy pasture with heavy manure had 1,300.

Comments were also made about the effects of pesticides on earthworm populations: "Most herbicides used in the Midwest are harmless or only slightly toxic to earthworms." "Some corn rootworm insecticides are toxic to worms, but narrower bands reduce their effects. In general, the organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides are harmless to moderately toxic, while carbamates are highly toxic."

Field crop scouting workshop series

The Logan County crop scouting series has been scheduled to begin on May 21 at the Blair Hoerbert Farm at 2506 100th Ave., San Jose. The workshop will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Approximately half the time will be devoted to classroom activities and the other half to hands-on scouting.

Other sessions are scheduled for June 11, June 25, July 9, July 23 and Aug. 6 at other locations.

To get your name on the list or get the complete schedule, send us your name, address, phone and e-mail address. (Logan County Extension, 980 N. Postville Drive, Lincoln, IL 62656; e-mail fultonj@uiuc.edu.) CCA credits have been applied for at each session.

[John Fulton]

Rep. Hartke appointed as
state agriculture director

Effingham County farmer and legislator to take post April 28

[APRIL 26, 2003]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich has announced the appointment of longtime state Rep. Charles "Chuck" A. Hartke as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Though the position requires confirmation by the state Senate, Hartke will begin serving as acting director on Monday, April 28.

"Chuck Hartke has been a farmer for most of his life and -- even more important -- for the last 18 years he's been an advocate in state government for people whose livelihood depends on agriculture," said Blagojevich. "At this time of unprecedented budget pressure, Chuck's experience will be critical to my administration as we look for new ways to improve and promote Illinois' vast agriculture industry."

Hartke, 58, has served in the Illinois House since 1985 and has held a seat on the House Agriculture Committee just as long. Much of his legislative work has focused on helping Illinois' agriculture community. He sponsored legislation to improve standards for "mega hog farms," to invest in value-added products, to promote ethanol use, and to provide technical and financial assistance to independent farmers. He also is a member of both the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Farmers Union.


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Hartke grew up on a farm in Teutopolis in southern Illinois. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, he and his wife, Kathy, bought a farm a mile from the one on which he was raised. His son, Chris, now manages the 800-acre operation. Before his election to the Illinois House, Hartke was involved in Effingham County government and served on the county board from 1971 to 1974.


"Chuck Hartke knows the challenges our farmers face," Blagojevich said. "He'll do an outstanding job of making sure the state's agriculture policies and programs do what they are intended to do."

Hartke will earn $113,200 in his new post.

[Illinois Government News Network
press release]


Innovative multi-technology course
on plant diseases offered off campus

[APRIL 25, 2003]  URBANA -- For more than 20 years, plant pathologist Wayne Pedersen has taught several courses in the off-campus graduate program at the University of Illinois. This involved extensive traveling and time away from campus.

Last fall, Pedersen decided a change was in order. He developed "Diseases of Field Crops" into the first online graduate course in the Department of Crop Sciences.

"Since a great deal of the class involves the use of high-quality color slides, putting the entire course on the Web would not have worked for students with telephone connections; the transfer rate would be just too slow," Pedersen said. "Instead, I developed a CD that contains all of the lectures as well as class notes, old exams and quizzes, and additional references."

He prepared PowerPoint presentations for each disease or group of diseases and then added audio for each slide used in the class.

"Individual presentations are from 15 to 25 minutes long," Pedersen said. "That way a student can listen to the audio, take notes or replay the audio before going on to the next slide. At the end of every presentation, students are provided with several websites that provide additional information."

He notes that the students could listen to the lectures any time, rather than being tied down to a regular class schedule.

"Last fall nine students signed up for the course," he said. "Students were responsible for three to four lectures each week, and then a threaded discussion was held for three hours each Thursday night."

Pedersen used a product called WebBoard for the threaded discussion sessions. The format is similar to having several chat rooms, but a permanent record is kept until the end of the semester.

On a given evening, Pedersen can open three or four chat rooms or conferences, each on a different disease topic, and then post several questions to which students could respond.

"Some of the discussions were very lively, especially with the control of soybean cyst nematode, sudden death syndrome, or seedling blights on corn or soybeans," Pedersen said. "If a student had to miss a class, they could go back to the website and review all of the discussion on each disease. However, very few students ever missed a class. If they were traveling, they could connect to the Web and participate in the class."


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This format allowed Pedersen to include students in major conferences on soybean sudden death syndrome held in southern Illinois. The conference center let him use their computer for the discussion session. In addition, Oval Myers, retired breeder from Southern Illinois University, joined the discussion on control of sudden death syndrome.

"While I was skeptical at the beginning, I now believe this may be a better way to teach than to formally lecture," Pedersen said. "Students come to class prepared to discuss the topic or ask questions, rather than coming to class to sit and listen. A great deal of the discussion time is spent on current research, recently published studies, or information one of the students read or heard during the past week."

Although the CD was developed for the graduate class, several Illinois soybean growers have already tried it and found the information valuable.

"If they want a quick update on soybean rust, they can sit down at the computer and listen to the talk," Pedersen said. "If they want current information on soybean seed treatments and where they may be the most profitable, they can just listen to the talk on soybean seedling blights."

Pedersen is constantly revising the contents and hopes to have several guest lectures available. Craig Grau, plant pathologist from the University of Wisconsin, is preparing a talk on brown stem rot, and Dean Malvick, plant pathologist at the U of I, is preparing some lectures on alfalfa diseases. If things go well, there should be a new CD available every January.

The course is offered each fall and also is approved for 25 units of "certified crop advisor" credit. For additional information, contact Pedersen at whitemold@uiuc.edu or the following website: http://www.cropsci.uiuc.edu/ocgs/.

[University of Illinois news release]

Scientists confirm water hemp
with resistance to PPO inhibitors

[APRIL 24, 2003]  URBANA -- Weed scientists at the University of Illinois have recently confirmed at least one water hemp population, and most likely several others, in the state with resistance to PPO inhibitors.

"The one confirmed population is located in western Illinois," said Aaron Hager, weed scientist with University of Illinois Extension, "But, we also received several other anecdotal reports during the 2002 growing season of PPO inhibitors such as Ultra Blazer, Flexstar, Cobra and Phoenix failing to control water hemp in other parts of the state. This raises concerns that the resistance problem in Illinois may be more widespread than we first thought."

Hager notes, however, that it is unlikely that every instance of PPO inhibitors failing to provide complete control of water hemp can be attributed to resistance.

"Less than complete control of water hemp with PPO-inhibiting herbicides is not unique to the 2002 growing season," he said. "For many years, observers have noted water hemp control ranging from complete to less than satisfactory with those herbicides."

He points out that the regrowth of susceptible water hemp plants occurs most frequently when post-emergence applications are made to plants less than five inches in height or under adverse growing conditions, such as during extended periods when the soil is dry.

"Late-season applications of these herbicides also can result in poor control, when water hemp plants are very large and nearing the reproductive stage," Hager said. "It is important to emphasize that many instances of poor control cannot necessarily be attributed to herbicide resistance."



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Researchers from the U of I have already conducted several field experiments to determine the resistance characteristics of the water hemp biotype identified in western Illinois.

"We found that all soil-applied herbicides, other than acetolactate synthase inhibitors, provided excellent water hemp control 30 days after application," Hager said. "Even soil applications of PPO-inhibitors, such as Authority, Valor and Flexstar, provided from 86 to 99 percent water hemp control. This corresponds with researchers in other states who have reported good control of resistant biotypes with soil-applied PPO inhibitors."

At the same time, results from a post-emergence experiment showed that control with PPO inhibitors on the resistant biotype ranged from only 13 percent to 53 percent.

"We are currently conducting additional laboratory and greenhouse experiments with this water hemp biotype," Hager said. "In particular, molecular weed scientist Patrick Tranel and his graduate student William Patzoldt are attempting to determine the resistance mechanism and how the trait is inherited."

[University of Illinois news release]

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