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2015 crop-related field day events in Illinois

Published May 20, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - Field days organized by the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences and U of I Extension will feature speakers presenting the latest on current crop and pest issues along with information from previous research. Each event will offer Certified Crop Advisor credit.

The following is the schedule of crop-related 2015 field days organized by U of I crop sciences and other institutions.

  • Urbana (weeds) – June 24; 8 a.m.
  • Macomb/Western Illinois University – June 25; noon
  • DeKalb – July 9; 9 a.m.
  • Belleville/Southern Illinois University – July 9; 9 a.m.
  • Orr Research Center (Perry) – July 22; 9 a.m.
  • Monmouth – July 28; 8 a.m.
  • Brownstown Agronomy Research Center – Aug. 5; 8 a.m.
  • Dixon Springs Agricultural Center – Aug. 6; 9 a.m.
  • Urbana (Agronomy Day) – Aug. 20; 7 a.m.
  • Urbana (International Agronomy Day) – Aug. 31; 8 a.m.
  • Ewing Demonstration Center – Sept. 10; 9 a.m.

Registration is required for some events. Please visit the Bulletin at for contact information for each event.

2015 University of Illinois Weed Science Field Research Tour

Published May 18, 2015

URBANA, Ill.  - The 2015 University of Illinois Weed Science Field Day will be held Wednesday, June 24 at the U of I Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, located immediately south of the main campus.

Coffee and refreshments will be available under the shade trees near the Seed House at 2102 South Wright Street, Champaign, beginning at 8 a.m.

Similar to past years, participants will car pool to the fields where they can join a guided (but informal) tour to look at research plots and interact with weed science faculty, staff, and graduate students. Participants can compare their favorite corn and soybean herbicide programs to other commercial programs and get an early look at a few products that will soon be on the market.

The tour will conclude around noon with a catered lunch at the Seed House.

The cost for the field tour is $10, which includes a field tour book, refreshments, and lunch. Two hours of Certified Crop Advisor credit are available under the integrated pest management category.

Field research work will continue at the Dekalb, Perry, and Brownstown research centers. There will not be formal weed science tours at these locations, but most of the weed science plots will have signs during the agronomy day field tours scheduled for these locations.

Doug Maxwell, long-time manager of the herbicide evaluation program at the University of Illinois, will retire after the end of the 2015 growing season.  Aaron Hager, a U of I weed scientist, said Maxwell has been an outstanding manager of this program for many years, and his leadership, vision, and attention to detail will be greatly missed. 

For more information, call 217-333-4424.

Anticipating changes in corn and soybean acreage estimates

Published May 18, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – With a favorable planting and early growing season, attention in the corn and soybean markets is shifting toward acreage considerations. The USDA’s survey for the March 31, 2015, Prospective Plantings report revealed producer intentions to plant 89.199 million acres of corn in 2015, 1.398 million fewer acres than planted in 2014. Soybean intentions were reported at 84.635 million acres, 934,000 more than planted last year.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, estimates of actual planted area of these two crops will be revealed in the June 30 Acreage report and final acreage estimates will be revealed in the January 2016 annual Crop Production report. Acreage estimates may also change with the release of monthly Crop Production reports from August through November.

“History suggests that acreage estimates will differ from intentions reported in March,” Good said. “Before examining that history, it is useful to understand a bit of the USDA acreage estimation procedures. Estimates of planting intentions are based on the March Agricultural Survey conducted in early March. The survey is a probability survey in that operations surveyed (about 84,000 in 2015) represent a sample drawn from a list of all producers in such a way that all operations have a chance to be included. Surveyed producers are asked to report acres planted or to be planted this spring or summer.

“The June acreage estimates are based on a combination of the June Agricultural Survey of producers (about 71,000 in 2014) and area frame surveys of parcels of land of about one square mile in size,” Good continued. “About 11,000 such parcels were surveyed in 2014. Producers were asked to account for all the acreage in each parcel. Acreage estimates include intentions for unplanted area. The final estimate of planted acreage is based on the December Agricultural Survey of producers (about 83,000 in 2014) supplemented with administrative data, primarily acreage reported to the Farm Service Agency,” he said.

For a more complete description of these procedures, see the Marketing and Outlook Brief of March 23, 2011.

Good said in the 19 years from 1996 (the first year that farm policy allowed for more planting flexibility) through 2014, the final estimate of corn-planted acreage exceeded the estimate of March planting intentions in seven years, in a range of 308 thousand to 3.073 million acres. Acreage was less than intentions in 12 years, in a range of 32 thousand to 1.917 million acres. The direction (although not magnitude) of the change   was correctly signaled by the June estimate in 13 years and incorrectly signaled in six years. The final estimate of planted acreage of corn exceeded the June acreage estimate in only five years, in a range of 47 thousand to 750 thousand acres. In the other 14 years, the final estimate was below the June estimate in a range of 28 thousand to 2.014 million acres.

In those same 19 years, the final estimate of soybean planted acreage exceeded the estimate of March planting intentions in 10 years, in a range of 25 thousand to 3.296 million acres. Acreage was less than intentions in nine years, in a range of 203 thousand to 2.582 million acres. The direction of the change from March intentions to final acreage estimate was correctly signaled by the June estimate in 16 years and incorrectly signaled in three years. The final estimate of planted acreage of soybeans exceeded the June acreage estimate in seven years, in a range of 300 thousand to 1.185 million acres. In the other 12 years, the final estimate was below the June estimate in a range of 32 thousand to 1.464 million acres. The final estimate of combined corn and soybean acreage exceeded the March intentions estimate in 10 years, in a range of 126 thousand to 4.587 million acres. In the other nine years, acreage was less than intentions, in a range of 197 thousand to 3.573 million acres.

“Recent history reveals a checkered pattern of changing corn and soybean acreage estimates from March intentions to the final estimate,” Good said. “Many of those changes may have been related to producer responses to changing prices and/or weather conditions. Not fully appreciated, however, is the role that sampling errors might play in the changes in acreage estimates through the cycle. There is a tendency to view the acreage estimates as precise estimates based on a census of producers. The USDA reports that combined sampling errors are typically between 1 and 3 percent. The size and direction of these errors through the acreage estimating cycle could explain some of the changes in estimates,” he said.

For a more complete discussion of sampling error, see the farmdoc daily article of April 2, 2015.  

What about this year?

“There seems to be some consensus that the June 30 USDA Acreage report will reveal that combined acreage of corn and soybeans exceeds March intentions, with slightly fewer corn acres and substantially more soybean acres,” Good said. “Some expect an increase as the result of a decline in Conservation Reserve Program acres and minimum prevented planted acres. That logic seems to ignore the likelihood that intentions reported in March should have already reflected CRP decisions and close to zero prevented planted acres.

“For the most part, an expected increase in acreage is based on the perception that March intentions did not account for all the crop land acreage,” Good concluded. “As pointed out in the farmdoc daily article of April 2, 2015, that conclusion should be tempered by recognizing the sampling variability inherent in acreage estimates. Even so, an increase of one to three million acres in the estimate of planted acres of principal crops, mostly soybeans, would not be a surprise.”


Agriculture Education Leadership Minor Students Receive Honors

Published May 17, 2015

Two students who are pursuing a minor in Agricultural Education Leadership Studies received awards during the campus-wide Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations awards ceremony on Friday, May 15th.

Trevalova Augustin, a senior completing a Leadership Studies Minor, received the Diversity Ed Social Justice Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student. Only two awards were presented across the entire campus. Augustin earned the award for her efforts to “address marginalization, oppression, and/or privilege through their academic, co-curricular, and/or social engagement; and promote critical awareness, perspective taking, understanding, critical thinking, and/or action for fairness and the common good among their community”. Augustin also serves as an undergraduate Teaching Assistant for Dr. Cecilia E. Suarez in AGED 480, Collaborative Leadership. 

Samantha George, who is also pursuing a minor in Leadership Studies, received a LENS Diversity Certificate for her year-long work in increasing her understanding and the understanding of others around the topics of diversity and social justice. George is a student in AGED 380 and completed her leadership certificate program under the guidance of Dr. Suarez this past April. The LENS Diversity Certificate Program is a year-long cohort program that helps Illinois students build important skills and practice for engaging diversity on campus and beyond. LENS Diversity Certificate participants take courses, attend workshops and regular cohort meetings, and design their own action project.

In addition to the student recognition, Dr. Suarez, Teaching Associate in the Agricultural Education Program, was the keynote speaker during the Latino Congratulatory Graduation Ceremony. Dr. Suarez said, “I am humbled and honored to be selected to share words with a large portion of Illinois’ graduating Latino students and their families as they celebrate their wonderful accomplishments. I am also excited to represent the Agricultural Education Program at this ceremony.” 

News Source:

Debra Korte, 2172448086

Plant breeder boosts soybean diversity, develops soybean rust-resistant plant

Published May 15, 2015

URBANA, Ill. -- It took decades of painstaking work, but research geneticist Ram Singh managed to cross a popular soybean variety ("Dwight" Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode, and other pathogens of soy.

Singh works in the Soybean/Maize Germplasm, Pathology and Genetics Research unit in the department of crop sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The unit is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Program.

His efforts to introduce the desirable attributes of wild, perennial Glycine species into soybean plants began at the U of I in 1983 and followed a path that involved thousands of experiments, the development of a hormone treatment that "rescued" immature hybrid seeds from sterility, and multiple back-crosses of hybrid plants with their "recurrent parent," Dwight.

Singh's collaborator, Randall Nelson, the research leader of the ARS soybean/maize research unit, plants seeds from Singh's most promising experiments, grows the plants and distributes their seeds to other scientists, who screen them for desirable traits and conduct their own breeding experiments.

A report of this work appears in the journal Theoretical and Applied Genetics.

Soybean is the second-most-planted field crop in the United States after corn, worth more than $4 billion annually. Current soybean varieties are susceptible to an array of pests and pathogens. Among them, the parasitic roundworm known as soybean cyst nematode attacks soybean roots and stunts their growth. Soybean rust, a fungus first detected in the United States in 2004, taints leaves and eventually defoliates the plants.

Scientists have known for decades that some wild, perennial soybean relatives had desirable traits that many hoped to introduce into soy, Singh said.

"There are 26 wild species of Glycine perennials that grow in Australia," he said. One species, Glycine tomentella, was of particular interest because it has genes for resistance to soybean rust and to soybean cyst nematode, he said. "Many people tried to hybridize it with soybean plants, starting back in 1979 at the University of Illinois." But the hybrids produced only sterile plants, "and they decided it was impossible," Singh said.

He continued to experiment, however, and eventually developed a hormone treatment that interrupted the process that caused the hybrid seeds to abort. He also developed a tissue culture method for producing several embryos - and thus, several plants - from each seed. The plants were grown in a greenhouse, allowed to flower and crossed again with Dwight.

Singh eventually settled on a Glycine tomentella plant known as PI 441001 for these experiments because the wild plant was immune to soybean rust and to soybean cyst nematode. It also was resistant to Phytophthora root rot and could tolerate salt and drought.

As the experiments continued, Singh noted that each generation of hybrids had different numbers of chromosomes, reflecting their blend of soybean and tomentella chromosomes. The goal, said Singh, was to isolate each of tomentella's 39 chromosomes, adding one at a time to soybean's 20 pairs of chromosomes. That way, all the genetic richness of tomentella could be captured in the hybrid soybean plants.

Further crosses have introduced the tomentella genes into those of the soybean plants, creating soybean plants with 40 chromosomes and some of the most desirable tomentella traits.

So far, the effort has yielded plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode or Phytophthora root rot. Some of the new plants produce more soybeans per plant than Dwight, and some have higher protein content than Dwight.

The research continues. As a result, soybean breeders now have access to dozens of new soybean lineages, each with some of the traits of the wild Australian plants.

The genetic material in wild Glycine species "is just like a treasure that is locked inside," Singh said. "With this method, we are unlocking the treasure."

The Illinois Soybean Association, the Soybean Disease Biotechnology Center at the U. of I., and the United Soybean Board provided partial funding for this work.


News Source:

Ram Singh, 217-333-8144

News Writer:

Diana Yates, 217-333-5802

Latest NRES Bulletin Available

Published May 14, 2015
NRES Congratulates all 2015 Graduates!

View the latest edition of the NRES Bulletin e-newsletter online.

If you have content or ideas for future issues (next due out in early Fall Semester 2015), submit them to Lezli Cline at

News Source:

Lezli Cline, 217-244-6254

Pulling for ABE@Illinois

4:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Expo Gardens - Main Bldg. Foyer - 1601 W. Northmoor Rd., Peoria, Ill.

"Pulling for ABE@Illinois 2015" is a 5th annual event designed to provide an opportunity for friends and alumni of the University of Illinois College of ACES and Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering to reunite, socialize, and celebrate the past and future success of the Illini Pullers quarter-scale tractor design team.

This event will be held on the same date and at the same location as the ASABE International Quarter-Scale Design Competition, so it will be easy for you to meet with fellow alumni, ABE faculty, current Illini Puller team members and their families.

We have a dedicated building reserved on the Expo Garden grounds for our group to meet and eat lunch, so we are excited to see you there and to help us "paint the pavilion orange!" A late lunch will be served at 4:30 p.m. Tractor pull starts at 5:30 p.m.

RSVP HERE by May 29 at 5 p.m.