By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The Gronewold family celebrates the opening of their new cow-calf deep-pack monoslope barn at their recent Open House attended by more than 300 people. Pictured left to right – Jason Wildrick, Maddie Gronewold, Rawson Gronewold, Ashton Gronewold, Brooke Davidson (helping Haxton Gronewold cut the ribbon), Evan Davidson, Merlin Gronewold and Jolene Gronewold.

In this week’s farm news roundup, we highlight recent crop condition reports and examine how the latest WASDE report could affect the value of soybeans. Also: Illinois farmers’ expansion into livestock continued last week with the opening of a new cow-calf barn in Carthage, and we have a preview of upcoming Junior Beef Association activities. For more, please read o n…

Crop report: Corn, soybeans in good condition

SPRINGFIELD — Limited rain averaging just under a half-inch across Illinois the week ending July 9 kept soil moisture levels and crop conditions in the unofficial “middling” range, the July 10 USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report suggests. According to the report, topsoil moisture was rated 6 percent very short, 32 percent short, 61 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Northwest Illinois reported the best topsoil moisture supply, with 83 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture supply was rated 1 percent surplus, 4 percent very short, 25 percent short, 70 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Northeast and northwest Illinois reported the highest adequate subsoil moisture levels, respectively, while southwest Illinois was the most bereft of subsoil moisture, at just 51 percent adequate and 40 percent short.

Corn silking, at 49 percent, is now 4 percent above the running five-year average. Soybeans are just beginning to set pods, at 6 percent. Corn condition across the state was rated two percent very poor, seven percent poor, 28 percent fair, 50 percent good and 13 percent excellent, suggesting wide diversions in quality in different geographical areas. Soybeans were rated 2 percent very poor, eight percent poor, 24 percent fair, 56 percent good and 10 percent excellent.

In addition, winter wheat harvested area is forecast at 490,000 acres, up 4 percent from 2016. Winter wheat yield is forecast at 75 bushels per acre, up a bushel from last year, according to NASS’ Illinois Crop Production report for July 12.

USDA, WASDE reports impacting soybeans

BLOOMINGTON — With USDA’s prediction the 2017 U.S. soybean crop could be another record-setter, farmer-members of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) are anticipating their stated goal of utilizing 600 million bushels of Illinois-grown soybeans in a single year — that is exciting news. But oftentimes with greater soybean production comes lower soybean prices received by farmers — unless, like many analysts project, increased foreign demand for soybeans will offset increased U.S. production.

Many were awaiting the latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, issued July 12, to trigger more definitive market signals. John C. Baize and Associates noted the most significant changes for the soybean sector within the WASDE report included an increase of 50 million bushels in 2016-17 soybean exports, to 2.1 billion bushels, and in increase in U.S. soybean use of 40 million bushels, to 4.118 billion bushels. In addition, U.S. ending stocks were reduced by 40 million bushels to 410 million.

For 2017-18, soybean production was increased by 5 million bushels in the WASDE report, while ending stocks were reduced by 35 million. “We are confident that overall increased demand for soybeans, including demand from exports, can overcome price challenges associated with increased production,” said Mark Albertson, ISA director of market access.

Illinois Farm Fact:

Illinois Junior Beef directors attend leadership events, help plan IJBA events throughout the year and represent junior members in their district. See www.illinoisbeef.com for more info.

College grad comes home, builds farm business

CARTHAGE — After Ashton Gronewold completed his engineering degree and experienced life working away from his family’s western Illinois farm, the recent grad decided to use his education to return to and expand the family’s livestock, corn, soybean and hay operation. Realizing that adding livestock would provide an opportunity to return to the family farm full time and allow multiple families to prosper, Gronewold hired Summit Livestock Facilities to build a 100-foot wide by 252-foot long cow-calf monoslope barn earlier this year. Now housing around 150 animals, the new barn was shown off to neighbors and community members during a public open house on July 7.

The open house, which allowed attendees a unique opportunity to tour a modern, active cow-calf barn, was sponsored by the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG), the Illinois Beef Association (IBA) and the Illinois beef checkoff, in coordination with Summit Livestock Facilities. According to Gronewold, who farms with his father and brother-in-law, the new barn’s features allow for better feed management and animal comfort than did older structures.

“Cattlemen were able to come and get ideas for how to expand their own operation and consumers saw first-hand how beef producers work hard to produce high quality beef,” noted Reid Blossom, IBA executive vice-president. “The dedication of Illinois cattle producers, such as the Gronewold family, to do what’s right, combined with their innovative spirit to adopt new approaches, has helped them chart a path to success.” (ILDG news)

‘Junior beef’ summer events on tap

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois ‘Junior’ Beef Association is gearing up for summer activities, including the IJBA membership meeting and ice cream social at 5 p.m. Aug. 8 in the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, followed two days later by the state fair itself. During the annual membership meeting, IJBA junior directors will be elected and IJBA events will be detailed. At the Illinois State Fair, IJBA will host a speech contest and coordinate the IJBA Jackpot Heifer Show. A photography contest will also be held for junior members.

First, however, comes the IJBA EDGE Conference, to be held July 27 in the Kewanee area. Participants will meet and register at Black Hawk College East Campus at 9:15 a.m. before departing on guided tours of nearby Horsley Brothers Farm and Cardinal Cattle Company. After returning to the campus for lunch, the junior cattlemen (and women) will attend a ‘hands-on’ demonstration from Dr. Buzz Iliff, titled “Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology of the Cow.” (IBA Update)