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Soybean export prospects for 2017-18

Published November 20, 2017

URBANA, Ill. – United States soybean exports will play a significant role in determining soybean prices this marketing year. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs, the recent level of soybean exports from the United States trails last year’s pace. 

“The prospect of ending stocks for soybeans, once again diminishing throughout the marketing year, hinges on increased soybean exports,” Hubbs says. “The development of a lowered ending-stock scenario during 2017-18 may require a shortfall in South American production or U.S. exports capturing a greater market share of the world soybean trade.”

The current projection for U.S. soybean exports during the 2017-18 marketing year is 2,250 million bushels. This forecast is 76 million bushels larger than last marketing year’s total exports.

“Although we’re only 12 weeks into the marketing year, exploring the current pace of exports is of value because soybean exports from the U.S. typically slow as the South American soybean crop enters the world market during spring,” Hubbs says.

Census Bureau export estimates are only available for September, coming in at 170.5 million bushels, up 32 million bushels over the previous period last marketing year. Census Bureau exports exceeded weekly export inspections by 9 million bushels over the same time. 

“Soybean exports through Nov. 16 equaled 713 million bushels if the margin at the end of September stayed consistent,” Hubbs says. Soybean export inspections currently trail last year’s pace by approximately 12 percent. “At this point in the marketing year, export inspections need to average 37.7 million bushels per week to meet the USDA projection. As of Nov. 9, 573 million bushels of soybean had been sold for export but not shipped. The current unshipped export sales trail the 716 million bushels sold at the same time last year. The pace and sales of soybeans currently lag last year’s pace. A brief look at the supply and demand situation can provide clarity on the prospects of meeting or exceeding the USDA projection,” Hubbs says.

U.S. soybean production is currently projected at 4,425 million bushels for the 2017 crop. This production level is 129 million bushels larger than the 2016 crop and is set to push ending stocks for the current marketing year above 400 million bushels despite the current export projection level. South American production is forecast to be 4.8 percent lower than 2016-17 production levels. This lower projection is despite a 3 percent increase in projected harvested acres in the region, mainly driven by an increased prospective planting of soybean acreage in Brazil. The lower production levels occur due to a lower projected yield in the region. Brazil’s soybean yield in 2016-17 came in at a record 50.1 bushels per acre, up from the drought-induced 43.1 bushels per acre yield in 2015-16. Current yield projections for Brazil in the 2017 crop sit at 45.9 bushels per acre.

“Although it appears reasonable to assume Brazil will not reach its record yield level again in 2017, the increased production level in the U.S. and expanded acreage in South America provide the prospect of plentiful supplies over the next year,” Hubbs says.

According to Hubbs, export demand over the last decade has been driven by the dramatic expansion of soybean imports from China. Currently, USDA projections for Chinese soybean imports for 2017-18 are 3,564 million bushels. The current level is a 3.7 percent increase from last year’s Chinese soybean import estimate. By using data from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. share of Chinese soybean imports since the 2010-2011 marketing year averaged approximately 38 percent of total Chinese imports.

“If we assume this market share for the 2017-18 marketing year, total U.S. exports to China would equal 1,343 million bushels, a mere 11.5 million bushels greater than the 1,331 million bushels exported to China in the 2016-17 marketing year,” Hubbs says. “If China expands imports to 3,764 million bushels as some reports have indicated, a similar calculation of U.S. share comes to 1,385 million bushels.

Current projections for other major importers (the European Union, Japan, Mexico, and Southeast Asia) are expected to increase 52 million bushels to 1,112 million bushels for the 2017-18 marketing year. “The prospect of meeting the current U.S. soybean export forecast may rely on acquiring a larger market share of the world’s soybean import expansion when considering the prospects for crops in South America,” Hubbs says. 

Hubbs adds that U.S. soybean exports need to continue to build on the strength seen in the 2016-17 marketing year. “The ability to exceed the current USDA export projections in 2017-18 is a possibility, but it is heavily dependent on South American production and the continued growth in demand from importers. If major importer demand grows at the projected rate, the soybean export and ending-stock projections outlined in the November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report supply and demand figures appear to be reasonable approximations for the 2017-18 marketing year.”






Team finds first wild alligator snapping turtle in Illinois since 1984

Published November 17, 2017

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers report the first sighting in 30 years of a wild alligator snapping turtle in Illinois. The discovery may be a sign of hope for this state-endangered species, or the animal could be the last of its kind to have survived in Illinois without human intervention, the researchers say.

The team reports the find in the journal Southeastern Naturalist.

In October 2014, when Illinois Natural History Survey herpetologist Chris Phillips donned a wetsuit and dove to the bottom of Clear Creek in Union County, Illinois, he was looking for a young male alligator snapping turtle with a radio transmitter on its back. That turtle had recently been released in the area to bolster the state-endangered turtle population in southwest Illinois.

“I was just about out of breath when I felt the turtle shell,” Phillips said. “I thought I had found the male turtle I knew was there because I detected its radio signal. I felt along its back to where I thought the shell should end, but my hand just kept going.”

Phillips plucked from the water a 22-pound, 15-inch long female alligator snapping turtle that was twice as long as the one he was looking for, and at least 18 years old. Since she had no tracking device, she was not one of the turtles that had been released into the area. DNA tests showed that she belonged at the site and was not a lone traveler from a southern state. Southern Illinois is at the northern end of the turtle species’ range.

For years, INHS researchers have conducted extensive trapping, and have called for citizen observations along Clear Creek for signs of wild alligator snapping turtles, but to no avail. Populations of this state-endangered species have declined because of habitat changes including dams, drained swamps and river dredging. Only Union and Jackson counties offer the habitat that the turtles need to reproduce and thrive. Locating any wild turtles in these counties will help determine the next steps – whether to preserve a population or reintroduce more alligator snapping turtles in Illinois.

“Bolstering a hidden population of an endangered species is better than starting a new population in the area,” said Ethan Kessler, a graduate student of natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois and a co-author of the study. “However, since no wild alligator snapping turtles have been found in Illinois since 1984, reintroduction efforts make sense.”

For several years, researchers have purchased turtles reared in a facility and released them at ages 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. They also released about 90 adult turtles. Most of the animals go into creeks with radio transmitters attached to their backs so they can be relocated and tracked.

Researchers were conducting their biannual catch-and-release program when they found the wild turtle, close to the same spot and 30 years, almost to the day, after their last wild alligator snapping turtle was found.

“Finding this individual does not indicate that there is a functional, stable population of wild alligator snapping turtles in Southern Illinois,” Kessler said. “When a population dies out, a single turtle may wander around like a zombie waiting for the end of its days.”

Alligator snapping turtles can live 100 years, so the researchers working on this project today likely will not witness the advancing seasons of this female’s life. After finding her, the team marked her shell with a notch and attached a radio transmitter to her back for tracking. The transmitter battery died, however, and finding her again in the sediment-filled depths of Clear Creek or elsewhere would be like finding a needle in a haystack, Phillips said.

“She is marked, so in case of an incidental encounter, we will know it’s her,” he said.

One of the challenges of tracking turtles that have been introduced in Illinois is that they disappear underwater and may not be seen again until divers retrieve them.

“If we succeed with our project in introducing a new, viable population of alligator snapping turtles, it’s likely that no one will see them,” Phillips said. “It’s not as if we’re studying bald eagles that soar above us. I may never know the fate of these turtles, but it’s cool to know that this wild space exists in Illinois.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources funded this research. Mike Dreslik of the INHS and Scott Ballard of IDNR are co-authors of the article. The INHS is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.

The paper “The first record of an alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) in Illinois in 30 years” is available online .

Sleeve gastrectomy, most common weight-loss surgery, lowers women’s tolerance to alcohol

Published November 17, 2017
Marta Yanina Pepino, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (l) and postdoc M. Belen Acevedo.

URBANA, Ill. – Women who have had gastric sleeve surgery to lose weight may want to consider limiting the number of alcoholic drinks they consume post-surgery.

A new study from a team of researchers at the University of Illinois and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that after undergoing sleeve gastrectomy, women could be legally intoxicated after drinking half the number of drinks than women who did not have this surgery.

Sleeve gastrectomy, similar to another weight-loss surgery, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), speeds up alcohol absorption to the bloodstream. After drinking, blood alcohol levels increase much faster and reach higher levels than what would be expected before surgery, explains Marta Yanina Pepino, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I who led the study.

“After having a sleeve gastrectomy, if a woman has a couple of drinks, she could be exposing her brain to blood alcohol levels that are achieved in a woman without surgery when she consumes four or five drinks,” adds first author M. Belen Acevedo, a postdoc in Pepino’s group at U of I. “Drinking, such that it raises blood alcohol levels above legal drinking limits, is considered a binge drinking episode and has been associated with an increased risk of developing alcohol problems.”

The study is available online in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.

The researchers wanted to learn whether sleeve gastrectomy, currently the most frequently used weight-loss surgical procedure used in the United States and the world, would affect how the body handles alcohol, also known as alcohol pharmacokinetics.

“We know that changes in the pharmacokinetics of a drug are important because the faster a drug of abuse reaches your brain, the higher the potential for addiction,” Pepino explains. “Although it is well known that RYGB affects how the body handles alcohol, findings from earlier studies on the effects of sleeve gastrectomy on alcohol pharmacokinetics are contradictory.”

Out of three previously published studies, Pepino says that two found that sleeve surgery did not change blood alcohol levels and one study found that sleeve surgery causes a higher blood alcohol peak. “However, all previous studies on sleeve gastrectomy, estimated blood alcohol levels by using breathalyzers, which might not reliably estimate peak blood alcohol levels in bariatric patients,” she adds. 

For the current study, 11 women who had sleeve surgery and eight who had RYGB surgery within 1-5 years before the study began, as well as nine women who had not had either surgery, were evaluated in two sessions. In one session the women consumed the equivalent of two standard alcoholic drinks over a 10-minute period. At another, they consumed non-alcoholic drinks. At each visit, the researchers measured blood alcohol levels by using gas chromatography and compared them to estimations of blood alcohol levels obtained from breath alcohol measures using a breathalyzer. They also used a questionnaire to determine the women’s level of drunkenness.

Only women were included in the study because they comprise the majority of patients who get bariatric surgery, Pepino says.

For the women in the non-surgery group, blood alcohol contents peaked at 0.6 g/L about 26 minutes after they finished drinking. In those who had sleeve surgery and RYGB, blood alcohol contents peaked at 1.1 and 1.0 g/L about 9 and 5 minutes, respectively, after finishing the drink. The women who had sleeve surgery or RYGB also reported more intense feelings of drunkenness.

Another finding showed that breathalyzer values compared to those measured by gas chromatography, which Pepino calls the “gold-standard” technique, underestimated blood alcohol by 27 percent. Because of this finding and the fact that breathalyzers must be used 15 minutes after the final drink of alcohol, Pepino points out that breathalyzers may not be a reliable way to get accurate alcohol levels from those who have had sleeve or RYGB surgery.

“Bariatric surgeries are the most effective long-term treatment of obesity that we know of today, and findings from this study or others showing associations between RYGB and increased risk to develop alcoholism are not to say we should not perform these procedures,” Pepino says. “The therapeutic effects of these surgical procedures are unparalleled. People recover from diseases such as diabetes and are able to leave many of their medications because of these procedures.

“We hope our finding motivates surgeons and the team of bariatric support professionals interacting with bariatric patients to discuss the potentially serious consequences of moderate alcohol consumption following sleeve gastrectomy and RYGB.”

Marta Yanina Pepino is an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

The paper, “Sleeve gastrectomy surgery: When two alcoholic drinks are converted to four,” is published in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. Co-authors include Maria Belen Acevedo, J. Christopher Eagon, Bruce D. Bartholow, Samuel Klein, Kathleen K. Bucholz, and Marta Yanina Pepino.

Funding for the research is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants AA 020018, AA024103, DK 56341 (Nutrition Obesity Research Center), UL1 RR024992 (Clinical Translational Science Award), and the Midwest Alcohol Research Center AA 11998.

eDNA tool detects invasive clams before they become a nuisance

Published November 17, 2017
handful of clams
University of Illinois aquatic ecologist Eric Larson holds a handful of invasive Corbicula clams.

URBANA, Ill. – When seeking a cure for a disease, early detection is often the key. The same is true for eliminating invasive species. Identifying their presence in a lake before they are abundant is vital. A recent University of Illinois study successfully used environmental DNA to detect invasive clams in California and Nevada lakes. Researchers believe this tool can help identify pests before they become a problem.

“Environmental DNA, or eDNA, means we’re finding the DNA of an animal or plant that we’re looking for from an environmental sample, like water,” says U of I aquatic ecologist Eric Larson. “It’s an emerging tool that has the potential to be better at detecting rare species in some cases, relative to some of our more traditional survey methods. There’s a lot of DNA floating around in a lake or a stream, and if we can capture and identify it, it can tell us what organisms are present, including invasive species.”

Larson and colleagues from Rice University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Nevada at Reno developed a type of laboratory analysis called an eDNA assay to test for the presence of Corbicula, an invasive freshwater clam. Larson says, “We found eDNA for Corbicula in four of 11 lakes where we already knew it existed, including Lake Tahoe, and did not find eDNA of the clam in seven other lakes where it had never been found. The location of Corbicula eDNA within Lake Tahoe also closely matched where we know the clams are. So these results confirmed that the assay works well, and that it could be helpful in monitoring for new populations of this invader as it continues to spread.”

Larson says Corbicula is very common in Europe and the United States but they’re not everywhere yet. The clams, which are originally from East Asia, aren’t very large, but can have major effects on freshwater ecosystems like lakes and rivers. Unchecked, they become invasive, and can even clog pipes and damage infrastructure, similar to the impacts observed for other invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes region.

Corbicula firmly established in Lake Tahoe by 2007,” says University of Nevada aquatic ecologist and study co-author Sudeep Chandra. “They influence the water quality and reduce the remarkable clarity in the nearshore habitat of Lake Tahoe. By recycling and excreting nutrients, the invasive clams contribute to the growth of nearshore algae. So detecting them around the lake is critical to understanding where the clams will degrade water quality.”

The invasive clams even occur in Larson’s backyard in Champaign, Illinois. “They’re very distinctive and are hyper-abundant in central Illinois,” Larson says. “If you see a lot of little white shells on the stream bed, those are probably Corbicula.” Larson is continuing his lab’s eDNA research on Corbicula in these streams of central Illinois. “Because we now know that the eDNA assay works well, we want to apply it to some other questions,” says Larson. “Is there a best time of the year to use eDNA to detect this invader? If we can’t find their DNA in the winter, does it spike in the summer? Do floods mobilize a lot of DNA, making it easy to detect or does flooding dilute the DNA that’s there?” Larson hopes that answers to these additional questions will help managers and researchers find and react to new Corbicula invasions elsewhere before they become problematic.

The study, “Development and field validation of an environmental DNA (eDNA) assay for invasive clams of the genus Corbicula” is online at the journal Management of Biological Invasions. The article is lead-authored by Dominique A. Cowart, a U of I postdoctoral researcher, and coauthored by Mark A. Renshaw, Crysta A. Gatnz, and David M. Lodge of the University of Notre Dame, Scott P. Egan of Rice University, and John Umek and Sudeep Chandra of the University of Nevada Reno.

This research was supported by the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project, funds from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, Truckee River Fund, Nevada Division of State Lands, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, as well as California’s State Parks and the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board to Southern California and others to support surveys of clams in the Tahoe region, and a UIUC STEM postdoctoral fellowship to Cowart.

Eric Larson is an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.


ACE Departmental Seminar - Anthony Mveyange

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
426-428 Mumford Hall

The Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics welcomes

Dr. Anthony Mveyange
Development Economist
World Bank

"Mining and Economic Development: Did China's WTO Accession Affect African Local Economic Development?"

Friday, December 1, 2017
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
426-428 Mumford Hall

Pizza will be served.

If you are interested in visiting with Dr. Mveyange, he will be available at 9, 9:30, 10, 10:30, 11, 2:30, 3, and 3:30.

Holiday wreaths

Published November 16, 2017

URBANA, Ill. – Decorative wreaths are a popular favorite during the holiday season. A holiday wreath adds color, interest, and a festive focal point inside or outside your home.

“A wreath can be made from a variety of fresh greenery,” says Andrew Holsinger, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “Some of the plant material used for your wreath may even be found in your own landscape.”

When creating a holiday wreath with fresh plant material, remember that gathering the live material is actually pruning the plant, and proper cutting techniques are necessary. Be sure to distribute the cuts evenly around the plant to preserve its natural form and beauty.

“Pines, firs, and cedars hold up well for indoor uses,” Holsinger says. “Just like Christmas trees, these evergreen materials will dry out slowly over time.” A wreath placed outdoors may last for several weeks and those with many broadleaf evergreens actually will last longer if used outdoors. A few nice, needled choices for outdoor wreaths are spruces or hemlock.

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t have the selection of plant material in your landscape, Holsinger says. Typically, many florists and garden centers have adequate supplies, but contact them as early as possible to find the best choices.  A difficult growing season sometimes results in some shortages.

“Caution should be used when decorating with plant materials inside the home,” says Holsinger. “Poisonous berries can be found on yews, mistletoe, holly plants, and many others.”

The leaves of yew are particularly toxic. Keep all these plants out of the reach of children and pets. Never place fresh greenery near heat sources such as heat vents, space heaters, sunny windows, or open flames such as candles and fireplaces.

Proper care of plant material will keep your wreath looking great from the start. Holly branches will need protection from freezing temperatures after cutting, otherwise the leaves and berries may blacken. Use outer tips of branches since they are often the most visually appealing and offer the best uniformity in appearance.

Holsinger also provides some recommendations for the preservation and use of greenery.

“When selecting greenery from your landscape be sure to use sharp cutters and immediately put the cut ends into water until ready to use,” he says.

When preparing the cuttings, keep the greenery out of sunlight. Prepare the cuttings to be consistent lengths to arrange around the frame of the wreath. 

Maintain balance in your wreath by using uniform bundles of plant material as you secure them to the wreath frame. In addition to green materials, use other plant materials to decorate your wreath. These add color and texture. Some popular choices are dried hydrangea blooms, pinecones, or reindeer moss. 

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension