By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

A demonstration of the university of the Harrington ‘weed seed destructor’ is scheduled for Oct. 1 in Savoy.

Despite indications to the contrary, the USDA is predicting another bin-busting harvest for Illinois; we have details. In other farm and rural news, the export-centric annual Illinois Grain Tour is underway the week, bringing potential foreign buyers into the Land of Lincoln for a look around. We’ve also got an update on dicamba-related crop damage complaints in Illinois. And: prepare to behold the Weed Seed Destructor. For more, please read on …

Production report offers no price relief to growers

SPRINGFIELD — The September 12 USDA Illinois Crop Production report gave markets nothing to rally around, yet again, as projections for both corn and soybean harvests remained high. Despite an early end to summer marked by low temperatures and little rain throughout most of the state, USDA-NASS’ projected 2.07 billion bushel corn harvest — though down 8 percent from 2016 — would be the third-highest corn yield on record in Illinois. Soybeans stayed on track for the highest production level in Illinois history at 600 million bushels, up 1 percent from 2016.

USDA’s national projections show corn production up less than a percent from the August forecast, while soybean production is up 1 percent. In addition, cotton production is up 6 percent in the September report. National corn yield is expected to average 169.9 bushels per acre. The U.S. forecast calls for a record 4.43 billion bushels in soybean production, with national yields of 49.9 bu./acre.

The Illinois average 2017 corn yield is projected at a whopping 189 bu./acre. Soybean yield is forecast at 58 bu./acre, according to the report. Some company-sponsored field scouting tours conducted by agricultural co-ops and other organizations have estimated final Illinois corn yields in their areas down 20-25 bu./acre from USDA projections, however.

Grain tour showcases Illinois commodities

SPRINGFIELD — The annual Illinois Grain Tour is underway this week, bringing potential foreign buyers of Illinois corn, soybeans and other farm commodities to the state for some Illinois-style rural hospitality. Farmers will be trying to sell them grain and oilseed, as well. All told, more than 20 international buyers from six countries will take the tour, which is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). Over $230 million is sales of grain, oilseeds, distillers dried grains and equipment has been generated over the tour’s five-year history, according to the department.

“The export of Illinois grain is vital to the growth of our industry,” according to Illinois Ag Director Raymond Poe. “Nearly half of the corn and soybeans produced in our state are exported, resulting in billions in direct sales annually. The Illinois Grain Tour gives the department the opportunity to showcase world-class facilities located right here in Illinois to foreign investors.”

The tour will begin at IDOA headquarters in Springfield. During the week, participants will tour the Melvin Price Lock and Dam at Alton, the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Tim Seifert Farms, University of Illinois Farm, GSI (a grain storage construction company) in Assumption, ADM in Decatur, Marquis Energy in Hennepin, Seedburo Equipment Co. of Des Plaines, CME-Traders Group in Chicago, and the Chicago office of the Illinois Soybean Association. (IDOA news release)

IDOA responding to dicamba complaints

SPRINGFIELD — The number of dicamba-related crop loss or damage complaints keep rolling in across the southeastern cotton and soybean belt and into mid-America, where 243 alleged dicamba complaints had been received by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) as of Sept. 14, according to IDOA public information officer Morgan Booth. Booth stressed that the complaints received against the popular herbicide, just approved for in-season use by the federal EPA, are “alleged” in nature, and that IDOA officials are currently investigating the complaints.

Booth said in an email that once a formal complaint is filed with the department it is assigned to a field representative. A site visit is then conducted in addition to interviews with both the complainant and the respondent. Application records are checked, weather data is reviewed, and plants samples are taken for lab analysis, if possible. Once a field investigation is concluded, the information is submitted to IDOA headquarters for review and a final determination on appropriate enforcement action, if necessary.

‘Weed Seed Destructor’ demo planned

URBANA — A new contraption creators say can destroy this year’s weed seeds at harvest, preventing establishment in spring, will be demoed for farmers on Oct. 12 in Savoy. The Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD) offers farmers a proven new tool in their fight against herbicide-resistant weeds without the use of a chemical, according to proponents.

“I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about whether the HSD would work on waterhemp, but using it during last year’s harvest reduced waterhemp populations in this year’s crops,” says Adam Davis, an ecologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences.

The event begins with a field tour at 1 p.m. at the U of I Crop Sciences South First Street Facility at 4202 South First St. in Savoy, where the HSD will attempt to prove its mettle to producers. Two other nearby field tours will follow. Attendees are not required to register, and everyone is welcome, according to a U of I Department of ACES news release. Visit www.go.illinois.edu/hsd for more details.

Illinois Farm Fact:

Marquis Energy in Hennepin is the largest dry-mill ethanol plant in the U.S., with a production capacity of around one million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol per day. (IDOA)