Diplodia Symptoms and Machinery Adjustments at Harvest. Diplodia ear mold can cause lightweight kernels with a dull grey to brownish color and sometimes small black structures call pycnidia (Figure). The infected kernels are prone to breakage and can result in poor test weights, poor grain quality and fine materials in the hopper or grain bin. Adjusting combine settings can help to maximize grain cleaning and minimize breakage.

This article was also submitted to the Illinois AgriNews by Angie Peltier and Russ Higgins, University of Illinois Extension Educators:
A webinar will be held live, from 1 to 3 pm on Thursday, February 11.

See the results of a five-year, multi-state research project focused on farm management practices and their potential for making corn-based agriculture more resilient. The practices provide resiliency in times of drought, reduce soil and nutrient losses under saturated soil conditions, decrease farm field nitrogen losses, retain carbon in the soil, and ensure crop and soil productivity.

No prior-registration required.

What are we seeing in the field? At the Northwestern Illinois Ag Research & Demonstration Center we are beginning to see some of the residual herbicide activity break, with weeds like giant foxtail and morning glory popping up in some fields. We are also seeing quite a bit of Japanese beetle feeding damage and very high populations in some studies. One researcher commented about just how much Japanese beetles seem to prefer edamame soybean varieties over those grown for grain.

Many may remember the 2015 growing season as the one in which the weeds took over in many Western Illinois soybean (and some corn) fields. Abnormally wet weather led to saturated soils that were impassible for long periods of time before post-emergence herbicides were applied. Weeds were extra thick in those fields that relied on a post-emergence-only weed management plan. Whatever the factors responsible for the thick weeds in 2015, many of those 2015 weeds produced seed. This seed was added to the field's weed seed bank where many remain to cause headaches in 2016 and beyond.

Join University of Illinois Extension agricultural economists for a free risk management webinar next Tuesday, February 23rd from 8 to 9 AM.

This webinar will focus on: crop insurance decisions, 2015 county-level ARC payment forecasts and managing risk in 2016.

Preregistration is required to watch this webinar. CLICK HERE to register for this webinar.

Registration is open for the 2017 Crop Management Conferences. These regional 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.

This past growing season, as part of a United Soybean Board-funded effort, personnel from Southern Illinois University, Iowa State University and University of Illinois evaluated more than 580 soybean varieties from 22 seed companies in sudden death syndrome (SDS) variety trials. The varieties that were evaluated ranged from the very early (MG 0) to late (MG V) maturity groups.

Western corn rootworm larvae feed on corn roots. This feeding injures corn roots, which can result in lost yield. Research has shown that for every one node of root pruned, there is an average of 15 percent yield loss.

Research over the years has led to the development of multiple strategies to minimize rootworm feeding injury, from broadcast insecticides to crop rotation, from insecticides applied to seed or in-furrow to the development and deployment of hybrids that produce one or more insecticidal protein (rootworm Bt traits).

Monitoring insect populations. Insect pheromone traps are monitored throughout the growing season at the Northwestern Illinois Ag R & D Center in Monmouth. Pheromones are insect hormones that attract individuals of the opposite sex for mating purposes. In our traps a small piece of rubber is impregnated with a pheromone specific to the insect we are trying to monitor. The trap's design and a no-pest strip ensure that the insect is unable to leave upon entering the trap.

Crop plants have needs that must be met in order for them to grow and reproduce. They need water, sunlight, CO2, above-ground space and some sort of matrix into which to extend their roots. Additionally, to meet the needs that are above and beyond what is provided by the seed, plants require nutrients in varying quantities. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are considered primary macronutrients and are required in larger quantities than both secondary macronutrients (calcium, magnesium and sulfur) and micronutrients.

Stalk rots can reduce yields. Stalk rots can decrease harvestable yield - literally leaving some ears on the ground. Corn plants are top-heavy and stalk rots increase the chance that plants will fall over (lodge) due to a combination of gravity and weather.

A lone symptomatic plant. Nearly every growing year in at least one corn field at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural R & D Center, a lone plant can be observed exhibiting symptoms that look like those in the photo above (Figure). Round-ish, tan spots ranging in size from tiny specks to ½ inch in diameter cover many leaves of the plant. These spots begin to appear on the oldest leaves at the base of the plant, spreading to younger leaves over time.

While my inclination is to joke and say that the obvious difference must be that the larger ear was grown in Illinois while the smaller ear was grown in another state (four letters, also starts with an 'I'…..), this isn't it.

A estimate of yields in a field full of the more moderate-sized ear (612 kernels/ear) at an ear population of 33,000 would be 260 bu/A. While estimated  of a field full of the larger-sized ear (882 kernels/ear), at the same ear population would be 364 bu/A (Figure).

Corn survey reveals positive sample in DeKalb County. Several weeks ago in cooperation with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), personnel from University of Illinois Extension, the Illinois Natural History Survey's Coordinated Agricultural Pest Survey and Illinois Department of Agriculture conducted a survey of production corn fields in two-thirds of Illinois' 102 counties.

From soil erosion to compaction to weed management struggles, farmers know best what is may be limiting crop production or long-term sustainability in the fields that they farm. However during this period of razor-thin margins farmers may be unwilling or unable to fit the costs of experimenting with new conservation practices into their balance sheets.

Field agronomists, farmers and others interested in soil health are encourage to join the soil health webinar on Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The webinar will be presented by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), and qualifies for one soil and water continuing education credit for Certified Crop Advisers.

New and longer-term partnerships between personnel in Illinois and personnel in Missouri and Iowa have resulted in several bi-state crops conferences to be held during January 2017 in Western Illinois or Eastern Iowa.

    Friday, January 6, 2017: Bi-State Crop Advantage Conference, Burlington, IA, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

      Location: Comfort Suites, 1708 Stonegate Center Drive, Burlington, IA.

      Hosts: Iowa State University and University of Illinois Extension

      In 1995, a long-term research trial was established at the Northwestern Illinois Ag R&D Center (NWIARDC) to study the effects of crop rotation and tillage on corn, soybean and wheat yields and cropping system profitability. There are many factors that go into making the decision about which row crops to grow in a particular region: soil types, growing region and climate, grain prices and the demand and market infrastructure at local grain elevators.

      Retired commercial agriculture Extension educator Robert Bellm observed stripe rust yesterday in several wheat fields in Madison County (Figure).

      Injury symptoms on corn plants. While passing by on the way to plant a bulk soybean field on Tuesday, personnel at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) noticed that plants in one of the center's corn fields didn't look so hot (Figures). The crop was planted on April 16 and sprayed on April 25 before emergence.

      In cooperation with Kelly Estes of the Illinois Natural History Survey, every April personnel at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) maintain a pheromone trap to monitor black cutworm (BCW) moths. Pheromones, or the sex hormones that are produced by female BCW moths, are impregnated into small rubber lures that are placed in the center of a sticky surface in a triangle shaped trap (Figure). These BCW pheromones attract male moths that are looking for a mate.

      Driving down any Western Illinois road this spring one can't help but notice just how many very tall weeds there are growing in field edges and along fence rows. According to University of Illinois USDA Weed Ecologist Dr. Adam Davis, every weed species has specific germination cues, or moisture and temperature fluctuations required for seeds to germinate and seeds of biennial plants to survive the Illinois winter. Two weeds have been very abundant this year: poison hemlock and wild parsnip.

      State and Region. According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service corn planting and emergence and soybean planting in Illinois have progressed faster than the running 5-year average (2011-2015, Figure). Similar to in 2015, the nine counties that make up the western Illinois crop reporting district lead the state in both corn and soybean planting, with 94 percent of the corn and 33 percent of the soybean acres planted as of May 8 (Figure).

      Farmers are interested in research-based information about resource conservation and certified crop advisors (CCAs) are continually in search of opportunities to earn continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain their certification. Every two years a CCA must earn 40 CEUs. At least 20 of these CEUS must be from sources that have obtained pre-approval and have been assigned an official tracking number.

      Brian Mansfield, the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center's Research Agronomist, last day was today. He is leaving to take a job closer to his home farm in Greene County and will be missed.

      According to the U.S. Drought Monitor's June 14 report, the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) outside of Monmouth is part of the 36 percent of Illinois that is considered abnormally dry (Figure). This is the designation that is typically precedes a drought declaration.

      The below average rainfall totals and above average high and low temperatures along with continued and increasing crop demand have combined to result in these abnormally dry conditions.

      One commonality among people is that topics of curiosity are often shared with others. Sometimes these anecdotes can reveal topics that are in need of further study.

      Each year personnel at the Northwestern Illinois Ag Research & Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) in Monmouth establish a corn planting date trial. In 2016 the same 110-day corn hybrid was planted at the same seeding rate (35,000 seeds/A) and planting depth (1.75 inches) at one of four planting dates in plots 8 rows wide and 100 feet long (Table). Each plot was split in half length-wise and either the front or back 50 feet of the plot was randomly assigned a fungicide treatment (Table). Each treatment combination was replicated four times.

      After a crop-damaging weather event, it may be of interest for people to learn just exactly what took place. While recent articles detailed the potential effects of the severe weather on growth and development of corn and soybean and discussed fungicides for hail-damaged crops, below is a weather summary.

      Researchers finished planting oats for Dr. Fred Kolb's research program yesterday (March 23) before the rain began (Figures). Dr. Kolb works a professor and small grains plant breeder in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. The goal of his field research is to develop improved small grains varieties.

      Scouting from the Cab. While crop producers are encouraged to scout their corn and soybean fields throughout the entire growing season, the view of a field from the vantage point of a combine cab can be eye-opening, particularly when harvesting corn.

      One thing that can become abundantly clear is just how well the weed management strategy for the year kept weeds in check.

      This clarity is important for multiple reasons:

      From reports of soybean fields near St. Louis destined for mowing rather than harvest to thick lawns of waterhemp beginning to emerge from soybean fields nearer to the Northwestern Illinois Ag R&D Center, weeds are a major problem in many Illinois farm fields in 2016.

      What in the world is going on? Why have weeds become such an urgent issue this year?

      There are likely several factors converging at once.

      An hour-long webinar, scheduled to begin at 9 AM on March 2, will present the results of NREC-funded research regarding how P placement may affect loss.

      To provide corn producers with a method to estimate peak corn rootworm egg hatch and when to best scout for root feeding damage, the Illinois State Water Survey's Illinois Climate Network calculates accumulated pest degree days. They use daily maximum and minimum bare soil temperatures (52 degree minimum) at a 4 inch depth to calculate the total pest degree day units that have accumulated since January 1st (Allen, 1976).

      On May 17, Ryan Farmer, a student hourly worker at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) collected stand count data from a demonstration trial that had been planted more than 2 months earlier. On an unseasonably warm March 8 day NWIARDC personnel decided to see just how wise it is to plant that early in the Monmouth area.

      Webinar: Putting a Value on Sweat Equity

      Symptoms and signs of Diplodia ear mold. In the past couple of weeks, symptoms of ear mold have popped up at the Northwestern Illinois Ag R&D Center. While most fields have rows upon rows of healthy-looking husk leaves enveloping plump ears, in some fields individual ears stand out as the husk leaves are a bleached or tan color (Figure). Upon peeling back these dead or dying husk leaves, one notices that many silks adhere to the ear, seemingly stuck there by white fungal growth (Figure).

      When walking along the edges of corn and soybean fields the last couple of days, I noticed many Japanese beetles feeding on both corn and soybean. A lot of Japanese beetles (Figures).

      To celebrate National Farm Safety Week a series of seven webinars health and safety-related webinars will be offered by the AgriSafe™ Network, a non-profit national membership organization, represents health professionals and educators who are concerned about the health and safety of farm families.