University of Illinois Planting Date Trials. Along with numerous other biotic and abiotic factors, environmental conditions such as soil water availability and air temperature drive the growth and development of field crops. Each year, under the direction of Dr. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Research Center staff establish and maintain corn and soybean planting date trials throughout the state. These trials help to fine-tune regional planting date recommendations.

Symptoms. When walking through several of the earlier planted soybean fields at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center trifoliate leaflets appeared to be missing significant sections of leaf tissue (Figure). Upon closer inspection, on those same leaflets, seemingly random sections of remaining leaflet tissue had angular lesions that looked reddish brown in the middle and were surrounded by a yellowish 'halo' (Figure). These are symptoms typical of a disease called bacterial blight.

Lower grain prices are narrowing margins for crop producers this year and are projected to continue into the future. This economic climate will be pose many economic and management challenges for crop producers.

Agricultural Economists from Purdue University's Center for Commercial Agriculture will be hosting a webinar geared toward exploring farm management strategies that crop producers can use to successfully navigate these challenging times.

Temperature and precipitation data listed below were collected at the Monmouth weather station located a little more than 4 miles from the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC), while soil temperature and moisture probes are located at the NWIARDC.

Air temperature. The monthly average high and low temperatures hovered near average during May (Table).

APRIL 2014 WEATHER

Why the recent interest in cover crops? During the past several years, there has been a growing buzz about cover crops. Whether this was because producers were interested in experimenting with ways to reduce soil and nutrient loss, they were able to shoulder more risk(s) because of higher commodity prices, or state and federal conservation agencies were pushing cover crop use and/or offering cost-share opportunities, no one can deny the buzz.

Note: click on photo to enlarge or see caption.

A University of Illinois project funded by the Nutrient Research and Education Council through fertilizer check-off funds is looking to update grain removal rates of N, P and K. This project, undertaken by state Cropping Systems Agronomy Specialist Emerson Nafziger, is looking for 6 to 8 oz grain samples from fields across the state.

Strategy for Japanese beetle traps: Detection then removal. Late each May, I place a red insecticide strip and a pheromone lure into a specially designed Japanese beetle trap that resembles a colorful torpedo or bomb (Figure). The lure works to attract Japanese beetles two different ways, one portion holds a female sex pheromone that attracts males looking to mate and the other portion mimics a floral scent which is thought to attract hungry beetles.

In my travels throughout the region, one person after another talks about how they heard that the soil had frozen more than 5 feet this winter. To find out how accurate these rumors were, I began speaking to people that may have more than rumors: DATA.

What business couldn't use a financial "check up"? Register and attend this hour long seminar on Tuesday, December 16 at 9 A.M. to learn about ways to gauge and better your financial assets.

According to New Jersey Extension Agricultural and Resource Management Agent Jenny Carleo,

Note: click on photo to enlarge or see caption.

University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app to assist applicators with many of the calculations that are used when setting up and calibrating a sprayer. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or "Spray Calc", was developed by Scott Bretthauer, Extension Specialist in the Pesticide Safety Education Program.

Registration is now open for the 2014 Women in Agriculture Conference on March 21 in Rock Island, IL. University of Illinois Extension co-sponsors this event which focuses on bringing useful information to women that farm.

Along with a general session, conference attendees select among breakout sessions with topics that are of most interest to them:

Tracking migrating insects. Some important corn pests such as black cutworms, armyworms and corn earworms survive the winter in more southerly regions, migrating northward each spring with the aid of weather systems.

According to the USDA, net farm income is expected to decline by 26.6 percent in 2014. This will put net income at its lowest level since 2010.

Given these projections, farm operators will be looking for ways to trim expenses in the coming year(s).

On rainy days this time of the year thoughts center around how quickly the rain will end and grain dry, how quickly soil will dry enough to be fit for harvest to get back into full swing. Other thoughts might be on grain drying, marketing and storage.

The challenge. Now that soil temperatures have begun warming, in many fields weed seed germination and plant establishment has begun.

Herbicide resistant weeds are complicating weed management throughout the Midwest. Throughout the past 40 years, more than 140 unique cases of herbicide resistant weeds have been documented throughout the U.S. (Figure). A unique case is the first documented occurrence of a population of a specific weed species exhibiting resistance to a specific herbicide mode of action.

Planting Operations are Underway. Now that soil temperatures have become more favorable for seed germination, Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) Research Agronomist Brian Mansfield and Research Specialist Marty Johnson have been hard at work planting corn during the past several days (Figures). They take turns operating tractors that pull either eight or four-row planters.

Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center Superintendent and Research Agronomist, Brian Mansfield, recently started a Facebook page.

He plans to use this page to post pictures and updates of the farm throughout the growing season.

Temperature, snowfall and precipitation data listed below were collected at a weather station located a little more than 4 miles from the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC), while soil temperature probes are located at the NWIARDC.

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Tom Vilsack released key information on the USDA website today regarding the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage crop insurance programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. Among the new information is a group of eTools that can help corn and soybean producers to walk through potential outcomes of the different crop insurance programs offered through the 2014 Farm Bill.

Japanese beetles were a topic of conversation throughout West-Central Illinois last summer for many people: homeowners concerned about their ornamental plants, farmers and home g

Historical weather data. The Monmouth weather station has been in operation since 1893, meaning that average temperature, precipitation and snowfall data have been collected for each of the last 122 Februarys. Temperature, snowfall and precipitation data listed below were collected at the Monmouth weather station located a little more than 4 miles from the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC), while soil temperature data was collected at the NWIARDC.

Temperature

Temperatures

NWIARDC - Monmouth. Average high and low air temperatures for the month of January were well below the 30-year average (Table). The average high temperature was 8 degrees below average and the average low temperature was 11 degrees below average. When an arctic vortex brought arctic air to the Midwest, Monmouth set daily high and low air temperature records. The daily low temperature on January 6 (-19) beat the previous low set in 1924 by 5 degrees!

Each year a corn planting date trial is established at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center. Planting date studies can provide us with valuable information. For example, in a given year, with its unique weather conditions, we can find out which planting date resulted in the highest grain yields. Additionally, planting date trials over many years can help agronomists to fine-tune regional planting date recommendations.

Corn plants emerged unevenly in some fields at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) in 2014. The picture above shows uneven emergence in a field that was cultivated on April 16 and seeded 1.75 inches deep on April 22 (Figure).

Registration is now open for the 2015 Regional Crop Management Conferences. These 2-day conferences provide a forum for discussion and interaction between participants and university researchers and are designed to address a wide array of topics pertinent to crop production in Illinois: crop management, pest management, nutrient management, soil and water management.

Each year the University of Illinois Extension’s 2-day Extension Crop Management Conference series brings 13 hours of training to farmers, Certified Crop Advisors and other professionals working in agriculture. Extension personnel captured audio of three speakers presenting four different topics during the 2014 Crop Management Conferences. Personnel in the Extension web office then synced the audio and visual content to produce interactive online courses.

The Illinois Pesticide Licensing Act requires licenses for anyone using restricted use pesticides or applying either restricted or general use pesticides as part of their job. There are five different license types and 17 different categories of licensure. In order to apply for a license, a person must pass a test administered by either the University of Illinois Extension or the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Trait selection. When selecting a soybean variety to plant there are many traits in addition to yield potential that may be important to consider. Producers focus on planting soybean varieties with different disease resistance traits depending upon pathogen and disease prevalence in their region.

The program is set for the 33rd annual University of Illinois' Northwestern Agricultural Research Center Field Day. The program will begin at 8 am on Tuesday, July 15th.

Buses will carry members of the public to different stops in the research center where campus-based specialists or Extension personnel will present the results of crop and pest management research and current recommendations.

Topics and speakers will include:

As farmers wind up harvest in Western Illinois, focus turns to other fall field work such as tillage, applying herbicides and/or anhydrous ammonia applications.

The 2014 Farm Bill became federal law on February 7.  While employees at the federal United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Services Agency (FSA) office work out the policies and details of the programs, FSA and university Extension employees are working to translate the law into plain English.

As the growing season rolls on, those producers with corn that is beginning to tassel may be thinking about plant disease and whether to add a foliar fungicide to their list of inputs in 2014.

Although 2014 variety and hybrid selections were made long ago and foliar fungicide decisions are likely already made because of scouting that took place before tasseling, additional scouting throughout the 2014 growing season can continue to provide important information needed for future growing seasons.

Temperature, snowfall and precipitation data listed below were collected at the Monmouth weather station located a little more than 4 miles from the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC), while soil temperature probes are located at the NWIARDC.

Temperature

In cooperation with the Agriculture Container Recycling Council, GROWMARK, Inc., the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Container Services Network, Illinois Farm Bureau, and University of Illinois Extension, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has set the dates for the 2014 plastic pesticide container-recycling program.

In 2013, the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) was one field location for a research study in which graduate student Sarah Potts (under the direction of Dr. Martin Bohn, University of Illinois Associate Professor in Quantitative Genetics and Plant Breeding, and Dr. Rita Mumm, University of Illinois Professor Emeritus in Quantitative Genetics and Plant Breeding) is working to identify corn genes involved in high plant density tolerance. Mrs.

When so many of the factors that influence crop production are out of one's control, it is difficult to overcome the urge to continuously use pesticides and practices that have proved effective. But this is what one must do to in order to effectively manage pests and pathogens into the future.

Although the weeds, insects and pathogens that we battle may outwardly appear to be identical, they are in fact members of genetically varied populations. Genetic variation is a result of sexual reproduction and/or spontaneously occurring random genetic mutations.

The University of Illinois Extension will be offering a Soil & Water Management Seminar on February 26, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

This program is geared toward Certified Crop Advisors, farmers and other agricultural professionals and will be held at both the Knox County Extension Office and in the 4-H Auditorium at the McDonough County Fair Grounds.

The presentations and speakers will be:

Temperature and precipitation data listed below were collected at the Monmouth weather station located a little more than 4 miles from the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC), while soil temperature and moisture probes are located at the NWIARDC.

Air temperature. The monthly average high and low temperatures were just slightly (1 to 2 degrees) below the 30-year averages (Table).

JUNE 2014 WEATHER

My fellow Commercial Agriculture – Crops Extension Educator Robert Bellm sent me a recently released article in Weed Science written by Norsworthy et al. (2014). This article details the results of research designed to study the in-field spread of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth over time.

University of Illinois Extension is hosting the 10th annual Illinois Crop Management Conferences in January and February. Each conference is a two-day, in-depth program providing university research-based information on current crop production issues.

The conference is geared toward farmers, Certified Crop Advisors, and other agriculture professionals and will address many 'hot topics' in agriculture.

Planting Progress: 2013 versus 2014. State-wide. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, an estimated 95 percent of corn acres have been planted, and 81 percent have emerged as of May 25. Corn progress is ahead of both 2014 and the 5-year average.

White mold fungus. The fungus that causes white mold of soybean is called Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. This fungus spends its life in the soil as hard, black structures called sclerotia. Sclerotia, which resemble mouse droppings, help the fungus survive over harsh winters and dry soil conditions. Under cool, wet, humid, and low-light conditions (conditions which are more likely to occur under a full soybean canopy) sclerotia germinate to produce small, cup-shaped mushrooms called apothecia (Figures).

The American Society of Agronomy will be hosting a Cover Crops webinar series on Thursdays in March. Each webinar is free and open to the public.

Because this series is sponsored by 13 different public and private organizations, continuing education units will also be available to registered Certified Crop Advisor participants free of charge.

The webinars will be available live or recorded through a link sent via email after the webinar.

Topics, speakers, and CEU details are as follows:

Each year as the first few warm spring days arrive, farmers begin gearing up to plant: checking over tractors and planters, arranging last-minute seed or input purchases, checking field conditions and checking the daily, short- and long-term weather forecasts for the region.

CCA Continuing Education Units Available. Certified Crop Advisors can earn continuing education credits through in-person and online attendance of the Resilient Agriculture Conference, August 5-7, in Ames, Iowa. Most conference sessions will be live-streamed, with the exception of the field activities and farmers and crop advisors throughout the upper Midwest are encouraged to attend in person (8.5 credits) or online (6.5 credits).

Have you always wondered what happened at the University of Illinois' Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center just outside of Monmouth on 210th Avenue?

To find out, join us at the Monmouth Country Club (1451 E. 3rd Avenue) at 1 p.m. on March 11th for 2013: A Research Year in Review. We will be discussing the results of some of the research that took place at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center in 2013.