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Weekly outlook

USDA projections

[MAY 6, 2003]  URBANA -- Market attention will focus on conditions for new crop corn and the uncertainty surrounding old crop soybeans in reviewing USDA reports due next week, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"While corn inventories are the smallest in five years, stocks are more than adequate to meet needs until the new crop is harvested, particularly if the early planting season leads to an early harvest," said Darrel Good. "The focus, then, is primarily on weather and yield prospects for the 2003 crop. The market will evaluate potential crop size in context of the potential consumption of corn in the 2003-04 marketing year.

"The story for soybeans is different. While the market will clearly be interested in the USDA's projections for the 2003-04 marketing year, there is still considerable uncertainty surrounding the old crop situation."

Good's comments came as he discussed the May 12 USDA projections of potential supply, consumption and average price during the 2003-04 marketing year.

Based on March corn planting intentions of 79.022 million acres, about 72 million acres should be harvested for grain in 2003. Using a trend yield value near 140 bushels per acre, the 2003 crop might be near 10 billion bushels.

"A crop of that size would be about one billion bushels larger than the 2002 harvest," said Good. "The USDA May projection may deviate some from 10 billion bushels, but a large crop projection is generally expected. What the market really wants to see is the USDA's projection of consumption during the 2003-04 marketing year."

Good said the projection of domestic use should be larger than that for the current year, based on increased ethanol production and a likely modest expansion in livestock numbers during the last half of the 2003-04 marketing year.


"Most interest, however, may be in the USDA's projection of marketing year exports," he said. "The early season projection was too optimistic at 2.1 billion bushels last year but was fairly close in the previous two years. This year's projection will, among other things, reveal USDA thinking about Chinese corn exports during the upcoming year.

"A projection for a rebound from the year's anemic level of U.S. exports is expected in next week's report. Even a 10-billion-bushel crop projection may result in only a modest increase in projected stock levels by the end of the 2003-04 marketing year."

December 2003 corn futures are currently trading only about 9 cents above the contract low established in March 2003. The trading range for the contract to date is only 38Ĺ cents. History suggests that the range will be expanded by at least 20 cents and more likely by 35 cents. Large crop prospects would likely result in new lows for that contract, while the high to date of only $2.69 still leaves the door open for a new high.


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"The continuation of large exports of U.S. soybeans and prospects for very small year-ending stocks have pushed cash soybean prices to the highest level since the summer of 1998," Good noted. "In its April report, the USDA projected U.S. soybean exports for the current year at 995 million bushels, or 1.05 billion if the larger-than-normal projection of residual use is included in the export projection.

"Exports of 1.05 billion bushels would be 58 million less than exported last year. Through May 1 -- with only 17 weeks left in the marketing year -- cumulative export shipments were reported at 923 million bushels, 29 million more than on the same date last year."

With year-ending U.S. soybean stocks currently projected at only 145 million bushels, supplies may not be adequate to meet the current export demand. Prices may have to go higher to slow the pace of exports, buyers may have to quickly switch to South American supplies, or U.S. users may import some soybeans or soybean products before the new harvest is available. The magnitude of U.S. exports and export sales of soybeans over the next few weeks will have important price implications and may continue to overshadow new crop prospects for now, Good observed.

"Eventually, however, the prospective size of the 2003 U.S. soybean crop will have a significant influence on price," he said. "Based on March planting intentions of 73.182 million acres, harvested acreage of U.S. soybeans should be near 72.1 million acres in 2003. A trend yield near 40 bushels per acre then projects to a crop of about 2.884 billion bushels, 154 million larger than the 2002 crop.


"A crop of that size, however, might result in only a very modest build-up in U.S. inventories by the end of the 2003-04 marketing year if world soybean demand remains robust."

November 2003 soybean futures have reached new life-of-contract highs, trading to $5.65 on May 5. There is some concern that large areas of heavy rainfall this past weekend may delay soybean planting.

"However, history would suggest that it is premature for much concern about the 2003 crop," said Good. "Late summer weather appears to be much more important in determining soybean yields than is spring weather. Still, the trading range to date for November 2003 futures is only $1.12. New highs for that contract are still expected."

[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]

Honors & Awards

4-H oral communications contest results announced

[MAY 5, 2003]  Logan County 4-H recently had its annual oral communications contest. State fair delegates selected included Emily Bakken, Lincoln, for illustrated speech; Abrigail Sasse, Beason, oral interpretation; Kim Turner, Atlanta, formal speech; Katie Turner, Atlanta, illustrated speech; Kelly Cross and Emma Cross, Hartsburg, oral interpretation team; and Meg Griesheim, Mount Pulaski, illustrated speech. All were blue award winners. Emily Bakken was selected as the top oral communicator and received a plaque sponsored by Lincoln IGA.

Additional blue award winners were Jenna Opperman, Colleen Pech, Allicent Pech, Zack Huffer, Ryan Huffer, Rebekah Crider, Andrew Fulton, David Carter, Elizabeth Carter, David Fulton and Daniel Fulton, all of Lincoln, and Ben Buse and Max Buse of Beason.

Judges for this year's contests were Randi Rich of Normal and JoEllen Maske of Mount Pulaski.

Oral communication is a life skill taught and practiced in 4-H. To find out more about the program, contact the Logan County Extension office, 980 N. Postville Drive in Lincoln, or call 732-8289.

[News release by Patty Huffer, Logan County Extension community worker]

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