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Looking for a corn consumption response

Published August 25, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – With the start of the new marketing year only a week away, the process of monitoring corn consumption and corn consumption prospects in the three major categories of feed, ethanol, and exports is under way. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, not much is known about consumption prospects as the ongoing process of updating expectations begins.

“In the case of feed and residual use of corn, the USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks reports are the only source of data on actual consumption,” said Darrel Good. “The Sept. 1, 2014, corn stocks estimate to be released on Sept. 30 will allow the calculation of the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn for the final quarter of the 2013-14 marketing year and will provide some guidance for potential use during the year ahead. Expectations of feed use for the year will be derived primarily from weekly, monthly, and quarterly USDA reports of livestock and poultry inventories. Feed use of corn will not receive much support from the beef sector. The liquidation of the cow herd and the smaller calf crops of the past few years mean there are fewer cattle available for feeding, and that deficit will continue for an extended period. The USDA reported that for feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more, there were 2 percent fewer cattle on feed as of August 1 this year than on August 1 last year. Seven percent fewer cattle were placed on feed during July 2014 than during July 2013,” Good said.

Good said that the poultry and dairy sectors appear to be experiencing some very modest expansion. The USDA reported that the number of broiler chicks placed for meat production during the two weeks ended August 16 was up 2 and 1 percent, respectively, compared to placements of a year earlier. “Two weeks do not constitute a trend so that placements will continue to be followed closely to determine if expansion is actually under way,” Good said. The average number of layers has been running 1 to 2 percent above those of a year ago each month this year. The USDA also reported that milk cow numbers in 23 selected states were up about 1 percent in July.

According to Good, the most uncertainty about livestock production comes from the hog sector. The USDA reported that the June 1 inventory of market hogs was 5 percent smaller than the inventory of a year earlier, but producers expected to increase the number of sows farrowed by 4 percent in the June-September quarter. Production prospects continue to be clouded by the ongoing impact of the PED virus on the number of pigs actually weaned. The USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report showed a 7 percent year-over-year decline in hog slaughter in July.  That decline was partially offset by a 5 percent increase in average slaughter weight. The USDA’s Hogs and Pigs report to be released on Sept. 26 will provide additional information about pork production prospects during the 2014-15 corn marketing year. Good said that because feed consumption of corn includes an unknown and sometimes surprising residual component, only the quarterly stocks estimates will provide a measure of actual disappearance.

“It now appears that domestic ethanol production during the 2013-14 corn marketing year will reach a record 14.15 billion gallons, about 2.5 percent more than produced in 2011-12 and about 10 percent more than produced in 2012-13,” Good reported. Corn consumed for ethanol production during the marketing year just ending will be near 5.13 billion bushels. “As indicated two weeks ago, ethanol production and corn consumption during the year ahead should continue to be supported at a high level, with the strength of exports likely to determine whether expansion continues,” he said. Export data are revealed monthly, with a lag of about six weeks.

Sales of U.S. corn for export during the 2014-15 marketing year were reported at 365 million bushels as of August 14. Sales are about 50 million bushels smaller than those of a year ago, but about 60 million bushels larger than the average for the years 2008 through 2012, Good said. He explained that last year, China had purchased 117 million bushels of U.S corn, compared to essentially none this year. Sales to unknown destinations are also down about 40 million bushels. On the other hand, sales to Japan and South American destinations are larger than those of a year ago. Total export sales as of August 14 accounted for 21 percent of the USDA’s projection of total marketing-year exports, about the same as sales of a year earlier.

“The level of export sales to date is in line with USDA’s projection of exports for the year,” Good said. “However, the seasonal pattern of sales varies from year to year so that it is not yet known whether the current level of sales reflects only timing decisions or is indicative of total export potential. 

“There are some early signs that corn consumption during the year ahead will increase modestly in response to lower prices,” Good concluded. “However, that response is not yet large enough to offset the impact of the market expectation of an even larger corn crop than was forecast by USDA two weeks ago. Corn prices are expected to stay under some pressure at least through the USDA’s Sept. 11 Crop Production report.  The size of the corn crop forecast in that report will be important in determining where the low may be in the corn market,” he said.



Illinois scientists work with World Health Organization on fortifying condiments, seasonings

Published August 25, 2014
soy sauce

URBANA, Ill. – Two University of Illinois scientists are contributing to World Health Organization (WHO) efforts to fortify condiments and seasonings for use in countries with widespread micronutrient deficiencies.

“In some countries where these deficiencies are widespread, there is consistent use—almost a daily dose—of certain condiments and seasonings, such as soy sauce in Southeast Asia, at all socioeconomic levels, and there’s a real opportunity to correct deficiencies by fortifying these food items,” said Luis A. Mejia, a U of I adjunct professor in food science and human nutrition.

According to Mejia, micronutrient deficiencies affect the health and cognitive development of at least one-third of the world’s population, representing 7.3 percent of all global disease. The World Bank has called micronutrient fortification the most cost-effective of all health interventions.

"Just as iodine deficiency has been controlled for many years in the U.S. through salt fortification, we now hope to offer a framework to enrich foods with iron, vitamin A, and other micronutrients in the developing world. Pregnant women are particularly in need of folic acid and zinc to deliver healthy children,” said Allyson Bower, a doctoral student in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences.

Micronutrient deficiencies are a real problem in Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia; and they also occur in West Africa and in Central America, she added.

Mejia pioneered the fortification of sugar with vitamin A in Guatemala as a scientist at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), and the program was later expanded to the rest of Central America. Because no single condiment or seasoning is consumed regularly there, sugar was chosen as the vehicle for enrichment.

“Fighting micronutrient deficiencies in this way hinges on finding a suitable food to fortify, and the vehicle chosen is usually a prominent part of the diet in a particular culture. Soy and fish sauces are promising vehicles in Southeast Asia, but bouillon cubes are better suited to West Africa and curry powder would be a better choice in India and Pakistan,” Bower said.

When a suitable condiment or seasoning is chosen, the legal framework that surrounds fortification becomes important. That’s what the two researchers are working on now.

“For example, Vietnam has a soy sauce fortification program, but Indonesia doesn’t. Indonesia does have regulations that allow fortification of wheat flour, margarine, and rice, but not condiments. So we can tell WHO that the legal framework is present in Indonesia and recommend that the organization expand its efforts there,” Mejia said.

Bower is excited about the opportunity to be involved in this project because it has global implications. “Sometimes it seems that the research you’re doing can only be applied at a certain ‘niche’ level, but when you’re working with the WHO, you know they’re going to take what you do and apply it to something that’s long-term and worthwhile. It’s especially rewarding to work on a project like this,” she said.

Mejia and Bower will contribute their recommendations to a WHO meeting in New York August 26-28. Elvira de Mejia, another U of I food science and human nutrition professor, and her collaborators, Yolanda Aguilera and Maria Martin of the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, will submit recommendations on industrial processing of condiments and seasonings worldwide.

Other research teams are investigating the bioavailability of micronutrients in fortified foods, their efficacy, the stability of the added ingredients in foods, and economic feasibility, among other concerns. All findings in the WHO’s Fortification of Condiments and Seasonings with Vitamins and Minerals in Public Health: From Proof of Concept to Scaling Up will be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science.



Corn and soybean acreage

Published August 18, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – The debate about the size of the USDA’s final estimate of the 2014 U.S. average corn and soybean yields continues, with the market apparently anticipating that those estimates will exceed the August forecasts, particularly for corn.  According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, at the margin, the size of the crops will also be influenced by the magnitude of harvested acreage.

“The first acreage issue is the magnitude of planted acreage, and the second is the magnitude of harvested acreage,” said Darrel Good. “The current planted and harvested acreage forecasts are based on the June USDA surveys, adjusted for any new information revealed in the August crop production surveys. The August forecasts were unchanged from the June forecasts. History suggests that final acreage estimates will differ from current forecasts, with the direction and magnitude of those changes being the issue.”

Good explained that since 1996, when agricultural policy changed to accommodate more planting flexibility, the final estimate of corn planted acreage ranged from 2.014 million acres less (2013) to 750,000 acres more than the June forecast. The difference exceeded one million acres in only 4 of the 18 years from 1996 through 2013. The average difference was a decline of 432,000 acres, statistically not different from zero. However, the final estimate was below the June forecast in 13 of the 18 years. The larger declines were in years of late planting, but not all late-planted crops resulted in large declines from the June forecast to the final estimate. During that same time period, the final estimate of soybean-planted acreage ranged from 1.464 million acres less (2010) to 1.185 million acres more (2008) than the June forecast. The difference exceeded one million acres in 6 of the 18 years. The average difference was a decline of 141,111 acres, statistically not different from zero. However, the final estimate was below the June forecast in 11 of the 18 years from 1996 through 2013. The difference between the June forecast and the final estimate of planted acreage during that period was not correlated to either the lateness of corn or soybean planting. 

Good said that for the current year, a larger-than-average percentage of the corn acreage in the 18 major corn-producing states was planted late (defined here as after May 20).  Much of the late planting was in northern and eastern states.

“A late-planted crop, along with the historical tendency for the final estimate of planted acreage to be less than the June forecast, suggests that the final estimate this year will likely be below the June forecast of 91.641 million acres,” Good said.

The average difference in the 13 previous years of a drop in acreage estimates from June to final was 690,000 acres, in a range of 28,000 to 2.014 million. The average excluding the large decline last year was 580,000 acres.

“A decline of 500,000 to 700,000 acres would not be a surprise this year,” Good said. “The checkered pattern of historical differences between the June forecast and final estimate of planted acreage of soybeans provides little guidance for forming expectations this year. The tendency since 1996 for the final estimate to be less than the June forecast may influence expectations for acreage to be below the June forecast of 84.839 million acres. In those years since 1996 when the final estimate was less than the June forecast, the average difference was 705,800 acres, in a range of 32,000 to 1.464 million acres,” he said.

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) released its first report of planted and prevented acreage on August 15. Estimates in that report are based on required acreage certification by those producers participating in federal commodity programs.

Good said that the August report provides little guidance for forming expectations about changes in acreage forecasts by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for two reasons. First, the FSA report reflects only acreage certifications to date. Those numbers will increase by an unknown amount in future reports.  Last year’s experience suggests that the September estimates, and certainly the October estimates, will be very close to the final estimates. Second, the magnitude of prevented acreage that was already reflected in the NASS June acreage forecast is not known.

From 1996 through 2013, the difference between planted acreage of corn and acreage harvested for grain averaged 7.464 million acres, in a range of 6.585 million (1996) to 9.78 million (2012).  That difference has increased by a very modest amount over time as total corn acreage has increased and tends to vary by the nature of the growing season. 

“The large difference in 2012, for example, reflected widespread dry conditions with more acreage harvested for silage or abandoned,” Good said. “Based on the USDA’s June surveys, the difference between planted and harvested acreage this year is forecast at 7.802 million acres, about equal to the trend value. The actual difference should be within a few thousand acres of the forecast,” he said.

For soybeans, the difference between planted and harvested acreage averaged 1.095 million acres, in a range of 595,000 acres (2007) to 1.858 million acres (2000). The difference has trended lower over time.

“Based on the USDA’s June surveys, the difference between planted and harvested acreage this year is forecast at 781,000 acres,” Good said. “That is nearly 200,000 acres less than the trend value for this year. Based on reports of more than the normal amount of acreage lost to flooding, the actual difference may be closer to trend value.

“While average yield will be the driver of the size of the 2014 U.S. corn and soybean crops, harvested acreage may be marginally less for both crops than is currently forecast,” Good said.



NRES Spring 2014 Teachers Ranked as Excellent

Published August 15, 2014

NRES congratulates the following Teachers Ranked as Excellent for Spring Semester 2014:

The asterisk * indicates that the faculty member or TA was rated Outstanding.

*Ahlers, Adam TA   NRES 285, 407
Happel, Austin TA   NRES 201
Coronel, Eric    TA   NRES 201
Miller, James           NRES 420, 456
Endres, Jody           NRES 425
Mulvaney, Richard   NRES, 572
Green, Eric       TA   NRES 310
*Schooley, Robert   NRES 285, 407
Groh, T             TA   NRES 201
Ward, Michael         NRES 101
Hodson, Piper         NRES 502
Yannarell, Anthony  NRES 421

Congratulations on a Semester of Excellence, Teachers!!!!


News Source:

Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning

Orr Beef Research Center Field Day scheduled for Sept. 3

Published August 12, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois researchers will be on hand to discuss the most current topics and situations producers are facing on-farm at the annual Orr Beef Research Center Field Day on Sept. 3.

The meeting will be held at the John Wood Ag Center located on State Highway 104, located 18 miles east of Liberty, Ill. A free meal and discussions begin at 5 p.m. with a demonstration and tour at 7 p.m. No registration is required.

Paul Peterson, U of I professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, will provide insight into the cattle markets and how cattlemen can take advantage of record high prices.

Other speakers for the program include Dan Shike, U of I professor and cow/calf researcher; Travis Meteer, U of I beef Extension educator; and U of I graduate research assistants who will update attendees on the newest research at the U of I.

Topics will include supplementing lush grass, ensiling corn stover for cow feed, heifer and cow feed efficiency, and grazing corn residue and the effects on the soil.

A tour of the Orr Center will be given immediately following the discussion. Producers will have the opportunity to view facilities, cattle, and pastures. A demonstration of forage measurement and calculating grazing days will be performed for producers to view.

“Although this year has seen more rainfall and thus fewer production challenges, producers struggle to expand the cow herd and re-invest in high-priced replacements,” said Meteer. “This field day will equip producers with the newest research findings, applicable management strategies, and practical knowledge to help increase profits in their cattle operation. Speakers will be glad to address any producer questions during the evening.”

More information on the field day is available at or by contacting Meteer at 217-236-4961 or