By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

IBA President Joni Bucher and IBA Vice President Buzz Iliff met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Aug. 7 as he made visits as part of his RV Tour of the Midwest.

This week’s farm news roundup offers updates on corn and soybean yield estimates for Illinois and perspective on U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s recent visit with farmers in Chenoa. Also this week: Illinois’ top corn and soybean commodity associations are teaming up to host an interesting tent during the upcoming Farm Progress Show, and we have tips for establishing your own prairie habitat. For more, please read on …

Cattle producers meet with Perdue

SPRINGFIELD — It is evident that President Trump’s pick for Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, has an incredible depth of knowledge on agricultural topics, according to Illinois Beef Association (IBA) farmer-leaders who met with Perdue during his Aug. 7 round table at a Chenoa agribusiness. While there to discuss issues important to farmers in advance of the 2018 Farm Bill, Perdue met with IBA President Joni Bucher and IBA Vice President Buzz Iliff as part of his five state “Back to Our Roots” RV tour of the Midwest.

“We’re pleased to see that Secretary Perdue made Illinois part of his tour,” Bucher stated in an IBA Update to members after the event. “It’s nice to see the administration is prioritizing relationships with farmers across the country and it’s clear to me that Mr. Perdue is very genuine in these meetings.”

“We want to know what’s working, what’s not and how we can do better,” Perdue said at the event. “We want to liberate farmers to do what they’ve always done and done well — that’s produce. We want programs that allow farmers to farm to the market, not to program.”
Also on the roundtable agenda were trade negotiations, excessive regulation and other topics.

Report: Corn, soybean yields will decrease

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois corn and soybean yields will decrease per-bushel this fall compared with the 2016 harvest, with corn taking the biggest per-bushel tumble, according to the just-released USDA Illinois Crop Production report. For Illinois corn production, the 2.06 billion bushels projected on August 10 would reflect a decrease of 9 percent from last year’s production. In addition, the Illinois corn yield is projected at 188 bushels per acre, down nine bushels from 2016.

Illinois soybeans, forecast at 58 bu./acre for 2017, are down by one bushel from last year. But in terms of total production, the 600 million bushels projected for 2017 would reflect a 1 percent increase over 2016 and represent the highest production level on record for the state. This can be credited to a 3 percent boost from 2016 in acres planted to soybeans, to an estimated 10.40 million acres, according to the report.

The 600 million bushel soybean forecast, if realized, would also meet the stated mission of the Illinois Soybean Association to utilize 600 million bushels of Illinois-raised soybeans by the year 2020.

ISA to host Farm Progress tent with ICGA

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) will join the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) in hosting a tent and display area at the upcoming Farm Progress Show (Aug. 29-31, Decatur). The area will be located on East Progress Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth streets, and will offer an array of activities and events geared to row crop production.

ISA issued details on what the soybean growers will sponsor: Along with Syngenta, Growmark and Limagrain Genetics, ISA is sponsoring Double-Crop Demo Plots designed to show the benefits of early season wheat varieties, which provide a longer growing season for soybeans. The plots highlight the economic and environmental benefits of double-cropping.

In addition, the tent will host Brent Hajek, an Oklahoma farmer who broke the land speed record with a truck fueled by B20. His Ford F-250 truck will be on display. The soybean growers will also offer farmers a chance to ask questions of ISA’s Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Soy Envoys during the gathering. (ISA news)

Illinois Farm Fact:

Since May 1, Illinois pork producers have donated more than 6,500 pounds of ground pork to local food banks. The Pork Power program has been extended into the fall to accommodate more contributors, according to the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

Extension offers prairie habitat growing tips

URBANA — Have you always wanted to start your own prairie habitat capable of re-establishing native habitat for pollinators and wildlife? With the plight of the monarch butterfly in the news, many rural and urban dwellers are looking to do just that, according to University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Alicia Gardner.

The specialist recommends starting from seed in year one, rather than plugs or potted plants that offer more immediate gratification but are much more labor-consuming. Prairie beds should be sown in the fall, allowing for an entire summer for site preparation, including killing out prior vegetation. “Depending on the size of the site, a combination of tillage, herbicide application, and solarization are used to kill at least two flushes of weeds,” Gardner wrote, in an Aug. 9 essay published by the U of I College of ACES.

After seedbed preparation, Gardner recommends broadcasting a seed mix and rolling the area with a lawn roller in late fall. During the first two growing seasons after planting, mow the site at 8 to 10 inches high. By the third season, prairie species should begin to fully emerge.

Visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/pollinators/ to learn more about how to establish small “Pollinator Pocket” gardens. (U of I ACES news)

Grazing Field Days announced

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Beef Association has announced dates and locations for two Grazing Field Days scheduled for later this month. Soil expert and grazier Dr. Allen Williams will visit with farmers and ranchers at Toland’s River Oak Ranch in Macomb on Aug. 29. He will also offer input on how to maximize profits, minimize inputs and optimize performance at the Hickory Flat Cattle Company in Highland the following day, Aug. 30. Both events begin at 5 p.m. and include a pasture walk and presentation on adaptive grazing, the importance of soil biology and more. RSVPs should be sent to w.king@wellspringltd.com by Aug. 25. (IBA news)