R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois Top Soybean Producer

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Thanks to advancements in genetics, more corn is being grown on less ground. The proof is in the numbers, with Illinois farmers producing a record-high corn yield despite suffering a 3 percent loss of planted corn acreage last year. (Photo courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension)

This is a week to acknowledge excellence in Illinois agriculture. For the third consecutive year, Illinois has claimed the title of top soybean-producing state; we have details on final 2017 production numbers for all Illinois commodities. Also this week: an Emden farmer has won Illinois Corn’s World of Corn Award, and U of I researchers may have figured out how northern corn leaf blight fungus is outsmarting corn. For these and more agriculture headlines, please read on …

USDA: Illinois is soybean production king

BLOOMINGTON — USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) annual crop production report estimates that Illinois farmers grew nearly 612 million bushels of soybeans in 2017, averaging a yield of 58 bushels per acre on 10.5 million harvested acres. This places Illinois as the nation’s leader in all three categories, outpacing Iowa’s soybean production of 561.6 million bushels raised on 9.9 million acres with an average yield of 56.5 bu./acre.

An Illinois Soybean Association farmer-leader credits ISA checkoff-supported programs, including farmer education on new practices and industry innovations, with allowing farmers to maximize yield potential while considering cost. “Each year, we better utilize checkoff funds to invest in key farmer profitability initiatives like intensive local learning sessions and the ILSoyAdvisor.com resource,” said Jenny Mennenga, ISA production and outreach committee chairwoman, who farms in LeRoy. “This contributes to the success of our growers and challenges us to continue to seek these opportunities that allow us to reach top yields.”

With good growing conditions and an emphasis on efficient management, Illinois had claimed the national soybean production crown four of the last five growing seasons. The growth in soybean production in the Land of Lincoln mirrors national trends, with more soybean acres than corn acres harvested in 2017, according to USDA estimates. (ISA, USDA news)

Corn production down 3 percent with record high yield

SPRINGFIELD — Of course, all of that soybean production (see prior news item) in 2017 had to come largely at the expense of corn acreage. But thanks to advancements in genetics, more corn is being grown on less ground. The proof is in the numbers, with Illinois farmers producing a record-high corn yield despite suffering a 3 percent loss of planted corn acreage last year.

According to the USDA-NASS Illinois Crop Production 2017 Summary, issued Jan. 12, corn planted area, at 11.2 million acres, was down 3 percent from 2016. Corn for grain was harvested on 10.95 million acres, down 4 percent, although the corn yield was estimated at 201 bu./acre state wide. (Remember events of last August, when many Illinois farmers and grain handlers complained that the USDA’s in-season production numbers were overinflated based on their own field scouting estimates, prolonging already-low prices paid for corn.) Corn production was estimated at 2.20 billion bushels, down 2 percent from 2016.

“This is a record-high yield and fourth highest production on record,” according to Mark Schleusener, Illinois state statistician for USDA.

2017 Illinois production: the rest of the story

SPRINGFIELD — And here, as the late commentator and farming supporter Paul Harvey used to say, is the “rest of the story” concerning Illinois crop production in 2017, according to USDA-NASS’ final state production report:

Sorghum, with planted area of 17,000 acres, was down 6 percent from 2016. Harvested area for grain was down 6 percent, while the sorghum yield, at 83 bu./acre, was down 10 bushels.

Winter wheat, with a harvested area of 470,000 acres, maintained its 2016 level. Yield, at 76 bu./acre, rose by two bu./acre. Production, at 35.7 million bushels, was up 3 percent.

Oats maintained a 20,000 acre harvested area compared with 2016, though yields were down by two bushels, to 79 bu./acre. Production, at 1.58 million bushels, was down 2 percent.

All hay harvested area was 490,000 acres, up 2 percent from 2016. Yield was estimated at 3.32 tons per acre, up a fraction of a ton. Production, at 1.63 million tons, rose by 9 percent.

Summer potatoes were grown on 8,100 planted acres in Illinois in 2017, a 16 percent increase from 2016. The 7,600 harvested acres represented a 10 percent increase, while production was up 19 percent, according to USDA-NASS.

Illinois Farm Fact:

The 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture form is due by Feb. 5. (Mark Schleusener/Illinois USDA-NASS)

U of I identifies corn leaf blight genes

URBANA — Researchers have figured out how the northern corn leaf blight fungus has been outsmarting corn all these years, according to a Jan. 11 news release from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). “We were looking for genes in the fungus that trigger disease in corn. With this information, corn breeders could someday build more durable resistance in future hybrids,” announced Santiago Mideros, a plant pathologist at the U of I.

The researchers confirmed the location of fungal genes associated with the plant disease and identified molecular markers that should make identifying disease-causing strains earlier. “Now that we have molecular markers, we could sample the environment and find out which strains of the pathogen are out there. Eventually, farmers might be able to plant corn varieties that are resistant to specific pathogens present in their area,” said Mideros.

The study led by Mideros was published in the journal Phytopathology. (College of ACES news)

Kleinschmidt awarded ‘World of Corn’ honor

BLOOMINGTON — Emden farmer Kent Kleinschmidt is the 2017 Illinois Corn “World of Corn” award winner, the Illinois Corn Growers Association announced. ICGA’s top honor was awarded during the organization’s annual meeting, which took place earlier this winter at the Marriott in Normal. Kleinschmidt has served on the National Corn Growers Association board and several NCGA action teams, and has participated in other national and international service opportunities. “He’s always willing to help, and certainly, every association needs that type of volunteer — the ones you can count on,” said Justin Durdan, ICGA president. “He cares about the rest of the farmer board and the staff and is a friend to each of us.” Congratulations, Kent and family!


–R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois Top Soybean Producer–