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Supplemental fat not necessary when canola meal is fed to weanling pigs

Published March 13, 2017
  • When using canola meal in place of soybean meal in diets fed to weanling pigs, it is not necessary to add supplemental fat to avoid reduced growth performance.
  • Inclusion of up to 30 percent conventional or high protein canola meal did not affect growth performance in weanling pigs compared with a corn-soybean meal diet.
  • Inclusion of conventional canola meal resulted in improved growth performance compared with inclusion of high protein canola meal.

URBANA, Ill. – New research from the University of Illinois shows that adding supplemental dietary fat is not necessary to avoid reduced growth performance when replacing soybean meal with canola meal in diets fed to weanling pigs.

Canola meal contains more protein than most plant ingredients, and can be used in place of soybean meal in pig diets. High protein canola meal is produced from canola varieties that have been selectively bred to have thinner seed coats, and contains less fiber than conventional canola meal.

"Recently, it's been reported from several experiments that up to 40 percent canola meal may be used in diets fed to weanling pigs without negatively affecting growth performance," says U of I animal sciences professor Hans Stein. "However, dietary fat was used as a supplement in all of those experiments to maintain constant net energy among diets."

Stein and his team formulated four diets by adding 20 or 30 percent conventional or high protein canola meal to a corn-soybean meal basal diet. The energy content of these diets ranged from 2299 kcal/kg net energy (NE) in the 30 percent canola meal diets to 2402 kcal/kg in the 20 percent high protein canola meal diets.

Four additional diets were identical to the first four diets except that choice white grease was added, so that each diet contained 2452 kcal/kg NE.

Final body weight was not influenced by dietary energy concentration. Pigs fed diets without supplemental fat had greater average daily gain and average daily feed intake than pigs fed the diets with constant net energy. Average daily gain, average daily feed intake, gain to feed ratio, and final body weight were not influenced by concentration of canola meal in the diets.

"The results of this experiment confirmed that it is not necessary to maintain constant NE among diets containing canola meal," Stein says.

Pigs fed diets containing conventional canola meal had greater final body weight, average daily gain, and average daily feed intake than pigs fed diets containing high protein canola meal.

"The high protein canola meal used in this experiment contained 12.6 μmol/g of glucosinolates, compared with only 4.43 μmol/g in the conventional canola meal," Stein says. "Glucosinolates reduce diet palatability, so that may be why the pigs fed high protein canola meal had reduced feed intake and growth performance."

The article, "Effects of diet energy concentration and an exogenous carbohydrase on growth performance of weanling pigs fed diets containing canola meal produced from high protein or conventional canola seeds," was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The co-authors are Trine Pedersen and Yanhong Liu, both formerly of the University of Illinois.

News Source:

Hans Stein, 217-333-0013

News Writer:

Jennifer Roth, 217-202-5105

Large South American corn and soybean crop forecasts place pressure on prices

Published March 13, 2017

URBANA, Ill. – Corn and soybean harvest future prices moved sharply lower after the release of the USDA March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report on March 9.  December corn futures closed on March 10 at $3.87 per bushel, while November soybean futures moved down to close at $10 per bushel. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, both prices closed at the lowest levels since late January.

“When combining the production forecasts for South America with projected changes in domestic use, the competition in export markets looks to be particularly tough for the next few months,” says Todd Hubbs. 

World production forecasts for soybeans in the 2016-17 marketing year increased 153 million bushels on a larger Brazilian production forecast, Hubbs says. The Brazilian soybean production forecast increased by 147 million bushels over the February forecast and brings total soybean production in Brazil to 3.97 billion bushels. The USDA Brazilian forecast came in higher than the Brazilian agricultural statistics agency (CONAB) projection released earlier in the day at 3.95 billion bushels, which surprised many market observers. Argentine soybean production stayed at 2.04 billion bushels. Forecasts for South American soybean exports came in at 2.86 billion bushels over the marketing year with a 55-million-bushel increase in projected soybean exports from Brazil. The forecast for Chinese soybean imports increased approximately 36 million bushels to 3.28 billion bushels over the marketing year. While world soybean export and use forecasts increased 36 million bushels and 35 million bushels respectively, the increase in global production raised the stocks-to-use ratio to 25 percent. 

“Domestically, strong soybean crush performance led to an increase in the domestic crush forecast for the 2016-17 marketing year by 10 million bushels to 1.94 billion bushels,” Hubbs says. Forecasts of soybean exports by the United States decreased by 25 million bushels to 2.025 billion bushels for the marketing year. The increase in Brazilian production and exports raised the expectation of lessened export interest in U.S. soybeans for the remainder of the old crop year. Ending stocks forecast in the United States at 435 million bushels, up 15 million from the February forecast. The changes in domestic use and exports increased the stocks-to-use ratio to 10.6 percent.

According to Hubbs, world supply-and-demand projections for corn in the 2016-17 marketing year moved higher due to increased production numbers for Brazil and Argentina. Brazil’s forecast production increased by 197 million bushels to 3.6 billion bushels. The Argentinian production forecast increased by 39.6 million bushels to 1.48 billion bushels.

“For the marketing year, South American production forecasts came in at 5.49 billion bushels, which is a 1.25 billion bushel increase over 2015-16 production estimates,” Hubbs says. “Argentina and Brazil are forecast to export an additional 138 million bushels each above the February WASDE forecast of 2.09 billion bushels. While the South American production and export numbers provide strong downward price signals for the corn market, the outcome for the second crop in Brazil still possesses strong weather risks that could severely influence both the total corn production and exports from the region as the crop is still being planted.”

Domestic use numbers for corn saw some significant changes from the February forecast.  Feed and residual use continued to decline as the forecast placed the use number at 5.55 billion bushels, down 50 million bushels from February. The reduction in feed and residual lowers the forecast 100 million bushels since September on higher numbers of corn used for ethanol and a 10-million-bushel increase in sorghum feed and residual use.

“The continuation of solid domestic demand currently for corn use in ethanol production provided the basis for raising the ethanol corn use forecast during the 2016-17 marketing year by 50 million bushels to 5.4 billion bushels for the marketing year,” Hubbs says. “The forecast for corn exports remained at 2.225 billion bushels despite the large prospective crop in South America.” Ending stocks and total domestic use remained constant at 2.32 and 14.62 billion bushels respectively.

“In assessing the prospects for corn and soybean prices in the current marketing year, the large forecasts for South American production and the ability for the U.S. market to meet export forecasts under this competition provide key indicators for old-crop prices,” Hubbs says. “In soybean markets, the large Brazilian crop’s impact on U.S. export markets during the 2016-17 marketing year looks to weigh down prices despite strong crush performance. Although large corn crops in South America may provide the same dynamic in corn markets, Brazil’s second corn crop is still subject to weather risk and domestic use for ethanol production looks to continue its strong performance despite continued lowering of feed and residual use. The latest USDA reports place even more significance on the March 31 Prospective Planting report. The possible acreage decisions associated can confirm the strong case for lower soybean prices and provides some support for corn prices.”


The marvels of spring ephemerals

Published March 8, 2017
White trout lily

URBANA, Ill. – Spring will be arriving soon, and with the new season comes brand new foliage followed by a burst of flowers. Gardeners poking around the yard may discover plants emerging here and there.

“Some of the earliest of these plants are native spring ephemerals,” notes Nancy Kreith, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. She says that ephemerals, or short-lived plants, are often misunderstood and refers to them as the mystery plants of the Eastern U.S. deciduous forest. That is because they seem to emerge suddenly and vanish almost as quickly as they came.

“Gardeners find themselves wondering if they did something wrong,” explains Kreith. “Many of these mysterious plants emerge, flower, set seed, and die back within two months.”

Most ephemerals begin growing in very late winter to early spring before trees develop leaves. During this time, they are able to take advantage of the moist conditions and sunlight hitting the forest floor. Once trees begin growing leaves, many ephemerals enter dormancy and remain unseen until the following spring.

Kreith cautions gardeners not to confuse ephemerals with spring flowering bulbs, such as tulips or daffodils, although they may have similar underground structures. Energy reserves are stored in their fleshy roots, corms, and tubers, and allow ephemerals to grow very quickly as warmer temperatures arrive. One major difference is that many spring ephemerals will completely die back to the ground, unlike the leaves of bulbs, which remain well into late spring and summer. That said, if environmental conditions are favorable, attractive foliage will remain on some ephemerals well into summer.

“For example, when planted in moist shaded areas, the leaves of the native fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) tend to remain into early summer,” Kreith says.It also goes the other way around: if warmer temperatures are delayed, ephemerals may remain hidden until conditions are just right, as in the case of mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).” Kreith notes that celandine poppy can be very aggressive.

The earliest of the ephemerals, emerging in February, is skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). The foul-smelling, tiny yellow flowers held on a spadix generate enough heat to melt surrounding snow and attract flies as pollinators.

Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) is one of the most plentiful of the native ephemerals, forming dense stands from February through May. “It even tolerates mowing,” Kreith says. “The low-growing and grass-like foliage is adorned with bubblegum-pink petals with dark pink stripes.”

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), with their floppy leaves, appear in March. These plants are known for colonizing bottomland soils. The clusters of bell-shaped flowers are nearly erect over the foliage and the plant quickly dies back after blooming.

Prairie trillium (Trillium recurvatum), which also appears in woodlands, emerges in May and is the most versatile of the three native trilliums. “Prairie trillium has deep burgundy flowers, while leaves are distinguishable by the dappled light and dark green variations,” Kreith notes. 

Typically blooming around June, white trout lily (Erythronium albidum) has leaves that appear two to four weeks before the flower. The lily-like white flowers grow downward, hanging on a bare stalk over the two green or mottled leaves. “Amazingly, it can take trout lilies up to seven years to get their second leaves,” Kreith points out.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of spring ephemerals,” Kreith says. “Be sure to explore the many plant options before incorporating these into the garden.”

A good place to begin is Illinois Extension’s wildflower directory, found at Beyond researching the internet, Kreith encourages gardeners to take a walk in the woods, notice the first signs of spring, and be inspired to learn the varieties of these early blossoms. Remember these beautiful bloomers not only benefit people with their carpet of colors, they also serve as an important and necessary early food source as wildlife become active after a long, cold winter. 

News Source:

Nancy Kreith, 708-679-6889

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

Rhubarb’s mysteries revealed

Published March 7, 2017

URBANA, Ill. – As the season warms up, many gardeners begin looking forward to their first rhubarb harvests. Although it was first cultivated in central Asia more than 2,000 years ago for its medicinal properties, rhubarb is best known today as an ingredient in our early-summer pies.

Rhubarb forms thick red, pink, or green stalks—or petioles—with large, extravagant green leaves. It grows best where plants will receive full sun in fertile, well-drained soils that have good organic matter.

“Plant rhubarb in the early spring while plants are dormant,” says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Jennifer Fishburn. “Avoid harvesting the plants the first year, and only lightly harvest for 1 to 2 weeks during the second year. Full harvest may begin the third or fourth year depending on the plant size. At that point, you can go on to harvest for 8 to 10 weeks.”

Rhubarb’s sour, tart, tangy flavor is sometimes described as mouth-puckering. Fishburn says that most people find it necessary to sweeten rhubarb with sugar, honey, or fruit juice to minimize the tartness. Rhubarb is often combined with strawberries, especially in pies.

“The flavor depends on the cultivar,” Fishburn notes. “Reliable red-stalked cultivars include: Canada Red, Cherry Red, Crimson Red, MacDonald, Ruby, and Valentine. Victoria is a reliable green-stalked cultivar. Generally, the deeper red the stalk, the more flavorful. Medium-size stalks are generally more tender than large ones.”

Fishburn says to harvest 10- to 15-inch stalks by snapping them, rather than cutting them off. “Grab a stalk down where it emerges from the ground, and pull up and slightly to one side. Harvest only one-third of the stalks from a plant at one time. Immediately after harvesting, cut off and discard the leaves. If purchasing rhubarb, look for flat, crisp stalks, and leave any curled or limp ones behind.”

Rhubarb leaves should never be eaten. They contain oxalic acid, a toxin that can cause poisoning when large quantities of raw or cooked leaves are ingested.

Rhubarb can be stored in the refrigerator for two to four weeks, if the refrigerator is set between 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit and at 95 percent relative humidity. For best results, Fishburn says, store unwashed stalks in perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer.

“Rhubarb is 95 percent water, and one cup of diced rhubarb contains about 26 calories, 2 grams dietary fiber, and 351 milligrams of potassium. Due to its acidic nature, avoid cooking rhubarb in reactive metal pots such as aluminum, iron, and copper,” Fishburn says.

Rhubarb can be prepared and served many different ways – pies, tarts, breads, cobblers, cakes, jams, sauces, puddings, and salads.

For more information on growing and using rhubarb, visit the University of Illinois Extension Watch Your Garden Grow website at

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

Chicago waterways – still flowing after over 100 years

Published March 7, 2017
tugboat pushing a barge
A tugboat pushes a barge on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal past a coal-fired electric power plant.
  • Chicago’s intricate waterway system, which included reversing Chicago and Calumet river flows, has protected the Lake Michigan water supply for over 100 years.
  • The canal system reroutes treated sewage to the Mississippi River and tributaries.
  • Invasive species such as Asian carp pose new threats to the Great Lakes.
  • Although restoring the drainage divide ridge and returning the natural flow paths of the Chicago and Calumet rivers might keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, it would lead to treated and untreated sewage and excessive runoff water being discharged into Lake Michigan during storm events which could result in future water supply contamination.

URBANA, Ill. – As the city of Chicago has grown in population and industry since it was established more than 180 years ago, so has its need for clean water. Meeting that growing need has presented many challenges. Today, the Chicago Area Waterway System is a complicated network of modified rivers and canals which are used for navigation and shipping, residential and industrial wastewater management, recreation, and aesthetics.

For more than 100 years, the Illinois-Michigan Canal, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and the Cal-Sag Canal have connected the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems.  Asian carp, currently confined to the Mississippi River system, are threatening to invade Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Researchers reaffirm that providing safe drinking water to Chicago residents must remain the number one priority; however, the Asian carp must be blocked to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes.

University of Illinois researcher Ken Olson and his colleague from Iowa State University, Lois Wright Morton observe that reversing the flow of the Chicago River in 1892, construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900, and subsequent management still constitute a good solution to the city’s unique water problems.

This ingenious feat should be recognized, according to Olson. “A mammoth undertaking, the canal originally had four aqueducts and 17 locks to enable navigation of the 140-foot drop from Lake Michigan to the Illinois River,” Olson says. “The permanent reversal of the Chicago and Calumet rivers was an immense municipal public works achievement that became internationally known as one of the seven wonders of American engineering.”

The Chicago and Calumet Rivers carry the city’s storm and treated sewer water away from Lake Michigan by re-directing it into the Cal-Sag and Chicago Sanitary and Ship canals and the Des Plaines River, south to the Illinois River, Mississippi River, and Gulf of Mexico. However, during high precipitation events, the Chicago area sewage treatment system cannot always store and treat the excess commingled storm and sewer water because of the volume and rate of runoff.

“The increased runoff rate is the result of urban land-use changes,” according to Olson. “High- density buildings, concrete, and impervious surfaces have replaced grassed and treed areas that absorb and hold rain water in the soil.” The Chicago Sanitary District has added more storage using quarry basins and tunnels under the Chicago area to reduce the prospect of a major storm bringing untreated sewage, viruses, microbes, nutrients, and heavy metals into the Mississippi River System.

The Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP, also known as the Deep Tunnel Project) was created to intercept storm water runoff and raw sewage overflow. “It’s essentially a river system constructed under the city,” Olson says. “TARP consists of 110 miles of tunnels and reservoirs, which are actually old limestone quarries that capture and hold storm water and raw sewage until it can be treated at waste water treatment plants and discharged into the canals and rivers.”

According to U of I researcher Cory Suski, although the extensive canal system protects the Lake Michigan water supply, it created another problem—numerous entry points and pathways for invasive Asian carp. “There are 18 sites identified as being at high risk for allowing the movement of aquatic nuisance species between the two basins,” Suski says. Suski experiments with using carbon dioxide to repel fish from an area, acting as a nonphysical barrier and help to protect Lake Michigan.

Electric fences have been installed in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the only pathway that remains wet all year. In combination with other techniques, the “fences” have been used to prevent invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

Restoring the drainage divide ridge and returning the Chicago and Calumet Rivers to their original flow direction into Lake Michigan could be a way to stop the flying Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, but could create an even greater problem—putting the Chicago drinking water supply at risk. Olson says the Chicago water supply is not in a precarious state and the canal system which reverses the river’s flow has not failed in over 100 years.

“The message to policy makers is that they need to continue to fund new ways to block the Asian carp pathway through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to Lake Michigan,” Olson says. “A reversal of the current flow could put Lake Michigan and the Chicago drinking water supply at risk so that is not a viable option. The tunnel projects will continue to store storm and sewer waste water until a time when it can be treated and released to the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.”

The study, “Chicago’s 132-year effort to provide safe drinking water,” is written by Kenneth R. Olson and Lois Wright Morton. It appears in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Olson is a researcher in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

A pdf of the full paper is available online. Olson and Wright’s book, Managing Mississippi and Ohio River Landscapes, includes a chapter on the Chicago canals.

Funding was provided by the University of Illinois, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Integrated Water Program agreement, Heartland Regional Water Coordination Initiative, and Iowa State University.