R. F. D. News & Views, May 21, 2014

by Tim Alexander


Peoria County Corn Planting Ahead of Pace

PEORIA – Peoria County farmers were slightly ahead of the state average for corn planting before last week’s prolonged super-soaker kept most central Illinois farmers from fieldwork. Based on reports from the farmers Peoria County Farm Bureau Manager Patrick Kirchhofer has spoken to, he estimates that 95 percent of corn and 30 percent of soybeans were in the ground.

“I talked to five farmers in various areas of Peoria County, and all of them seemed very pleased with planting progress this spring,” Kirchhofer told R.F.D. News & Views in a May 12 email. “The soil is very mellow (crumbles easily) and is working great. This is likely due to the cold winter we had with the hard freezes which tends to make the soil mellow.”

Soil moisture levels are trending towards the dry side, Kirchhofer reported, “although there is still good moisture for germination.”

The Illinois Weather & Crops report of May 12, issued by USDA-NASS, noted that 5.0 days were suitable for fieldwork across Illinois the previous week, allowing farmers to make good progress planting. Statewide, corn planting increased to 78 percent complete, ahead of the five year average of 53 percent. Soybean planting was estimated at 26 percent complete, also ahead of the five year average of 16 percent. Topsoil moisture was estimated statewide as 11 percent short, 75 percent adequate, and 14 percent surplus. However, subsoil moisture was pegged at four percent very short, 24 percent short, 64 percent adequate and eight percent surplus.

In central Illinois, where there were 5.5 days available for fieldwork, 86 percent of corn was planted, with 48 percent emergence. 38 percent of soybeans had been planted in central Illinois, in topsoil rated at three percent very short, 22 percent short, 69 percent adequate and six percent surplus.


Soybean Growers Laud Durbin

BLOOMINGTON – Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) issued a news release last week to laud US Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for the support he expressed for biodiesel during a May 14 press conference in Washington, DC. Along with legislators from key agricultural states, Durbin turned the spotlight on the need for reinstatement of the federal biodiesel tax credit, and for the US EPA to increase proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for biodiesel.

“The (RFS) was created more than 10 years ago to drive growth in the biofuels industry. And with the help of the biodiesel tax credit, the biodiesel industry has delivered on its promise, supporting thousands of jobs in Illinois and helping drive economic development in our rural communities,” Durbin said during the press meeting.

A recent survey conducted by the National Biodiesel Board shows that 80 percent of the nation’s biodiesel producers have scaled back production this year and almost six in ten have idled.  Two-thirds of producers responding indicated they have already or will likely reduce their workforce as a result of the downturn in production. “As illustrated by the survey, two recent issues have put this industry– this success story– at risk,” Durbin stated.

“We thank Senator Durbin for pointing out the positive impacts of the biodiesel tax credit and the RFS,” said Bill Raben, chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association. “This issue is important to Illinois soybean producers. We urge ISG members to contact legislators and encourage continuation of the biodiesel tax credit and adjustment of the RFS to higher levels.”


Follow WRDA Progress Via Text Message

BLOOMINGTON – Sometime late this week, it is expected that the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conference committee report will be voted on– at last– in the US House and Senate. Illinois Corn is calling the conference report a win for locks and dams, albeit a small one. “Serious construction monies aren’t available until we pass an increase in the barge user fee and allocate money for the increased federal portion of Olmsted (dam) construction,” wrote Illinois Corn’s Rosie Sanderson, in a Daily Update to members last week.

Illinois Corn is among the Illinois agriculture groups that have worked for years to enact meaningful lock and dam repair funding legislation. Members can now sign up for text messages from Illinois Corn when important policy actions, such as the WRDA bill, are taking place. To receive the text message alerts on WRDA action this week, visit www.sms.ilcorn.org/. Illinois Corn promises to only issue text action alerts to growers when their action is vital to the future of the ag industry.


Soybean Management Show Returning to Area Radio

BLOOMINGTON – Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff-funded “Management Matters” radio program is back for a second growing season, airing on RFD Radio Network-affiliated stations as well as WJBC and WMBD/WIRL. The program serves to connect Illinois farmers with industry experts and managment tips to help increase soybean yields, quality and profit. The show kicked off this month and will continue to air through the end of July, according to Don Guinnip, ISA production chair.

“The program relays information that is unique to Illinois soybean production and current growing conditions,” said Guinnip, a farmer from Marshall. “Growers don’t always have time to sift through the latest research this time of year, so ISA has selected the highlights.”

This week’s show will feature University of Illinois entomologist Michael Gray, who will share soybean pest and scouting tips. Future programs include topics such as weed and nutrient management, high-yield research, water quality and cover crops.

“Whether you are in the planter, driving to town or sitting down to your tablet or computer at night, timely information on increasing soybean yields and profits is here for you,” Guinnip said of the show. Check your local farm radio affiliate for air dates and times for ISA’s Management Matters radio program. (ISA news release)


Illinois Farm Fact: 

A recent soybean checkoff-funded study found that biodiesel contributed to a $15 billion increase in soybean oil revenues from 2006 and 2012, while soybean prices rose 74 cents per bushel. (Ill. Soybean Assoc.)


(Tim Alexander is a freelance reporter who writes agriculture, news and feature articles for the News Bulletin, Farm World and many other publications.)