R.F.D. News & Views, January 21, 2015

Tim Alexander

Illinois Repeats as “King Bean” State
BLOOMINGTON – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) acknowledged that the state’s farmers have achieved the largest soybean production in the nation for the second consecutive year. The January 12 USDA Crop Production Report estimated that Illinois producers raised 547.7 million bushels of soybeans on 9.8 million harvested acres in 2014, besting Iowa in production for the second straight year. The average soybean harvest across Illinois was 56 bushels per acre, according to the report.
“Achieving this distinction for the second year in a row is confirmation that Illinois has become a nationwide leader in soybean production,” noted Craig Ratajczyk, chief executive officer for the ISA, in a news release. “In addition to our ongoing work to build demand both domestically and internationally, we support our growers with a wide range of programs, such as www.ilsoyadvisor.com, our online resource for soybean production, and the Voice For Soy program, which helps give farmers a voice in legislative matters.”

While it’s true that weather played a role in the abundant 2014 harvest, it’s important to note that better management practices– encouraged through soybean checkoff-funded programs and education– helped farmers to take advantage of the good growing season, added Bill Raben, ISA chairman.


2014 Corn, Bean Production Tops State Records
SPRINGFIELD – Corn production in Illinois was estimated at a record 2.35 billion bushels, shattering the previous record of 2.28 billion bushels in 2007, according to the Illinois Crop Production 2014 Summary, issued by the USDA on January 12.
The report estimated corn planted area, at 11.9 million acres, as down one percent from 2013. Harvested corn for grain was 11.75 million acres, down 50,000 from 2013. Corn yield also set a new state record, with 200 bu./acre, up 22 bu./acre from the previous year.

Harvested soybean area, at 9.78 million acres, and planted soybean area, at 9.8 million acres, were up three percent from 2013. This led to an estimated record high 56 bu./acre, up six bushels from 2013, and record high production of 548 million bushels.


Gray: Manage WCR Presence Carefully

EAST PEORIA – Central Illinois farmers should carefully consider their insecticide treatment programs– especially regarding western corn rootworm (WCR)– on a field-by-field basis this year. According to Michael E. Gray, a professor and assistant dean for the University of Illinois Dept. of Crop Sciences, as concerns mount over WCR resistance to some Bt proteins, such as Cry3Bb1 and mCry3A, farmers are utilizing more planting-time soil insecticides and Bt hybrids to reduce the risk of yield losses. But with farm profit margins anticipated to be much narrower than in recent years, Gray urged farmers attending the U of I Corn and Soybean Classic in East Peoria on January 7 to consider the necessity of employing that strategy in their fields for the 2015 growing season.

Not only can such a dual approach be costly, but recent research by land grant scientists at the U of I, Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska suggests that the strategy may actually hasten the onset of resistance to Bt proteins, Gray told some 200 producers in attendance.

“We have a large WCR research program and several test plots at the University of Illinois where we challenge soil insecticides and challenge Bt hybrids to see how well they stand up to WCR. In our 2014 corn rootworm trials, soil insecticides by themselves did a pretty good job,” Gray said. “Looking forward to the 2015 growing season, you should carefully evaluate whether or not the combined approach of Bt rootworm hybrid and planting-time soil insecticide makes sense for your operation.”


New Report on 2012 Drought Released
SPRINGFIELD – A new report on the 2012 drought, and its state-by-state effects on agricultural resources, has been posted on the National Drought Mitigation Center website (www.drought.uni.edu/). Featuring commentary from Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, the impacts of the 2012 drought that struck the Midwest and High Plains are offered in the report, which compiles two years of data and impact research. “While the drought was largely confined to 2012, some areas did not recover until 2013,” Angel recalled on his climateillinois.wordpress blog last week.

In the report, Angel offers the following: “Our ability to monitor and assess drought conditions gets better and better each year as new data networks and monitoring products become available. Another standout feature in the 2012 drought was the sheer volume and quality of data coming from state-level monitoring networks, providing measurements rarely collected like soil moisture and soil temperature.”

The report is titled “From Too Much to Too Little: How the central U.S. drought of 2012 evolved out of one of the most devastating floods on record in 2011.”


U of I Farm Bill Toolbox Rebooted
URBANA – The University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics’ (ACES) USDA-funded Farm Bill Toolbox has been updated and relaunched. Feedback from users has driven the upgrades, according to the U of I ag economists charged with creating and maintaining the website, which helps navigate farmers through selection options associated with the 2014 Farm Bill as they close in on key deadlines. Find out more at www.farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/.


Illinois Farm Fact:
Illinois farmers planted 9,800,000 acres of winter wheat in 2014, up 300,000 acres from 2013, and harvested 9,780,000 acres, also up 300,000 acres from 2013. (USDA-Ill. Crop Production 2014 Summary)


(Tim Alexander is a freelance reporter who writes agriculture, news and feature articles for Chronicle Media, Farm World, Prairie Farmer and many other publications. He resides in rural Peoria County with his family.)