College of ACES
College News

2016 Friend of ACES award recipients announced

Published August 16, 2016

URBANA, Ill. - The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will honor Russell Moroz of Libertyville, Illinois and Marc Schulman of Chicago, Illinois as the recipients of the 2016 Friend of ACES award. The award recognizes non-alumni friends who have made outstanding contributions to the growth and success of the College of ACES.

Moroz, who will be recognized at the ACES College Connection on Saturday, Sept. 10, is Vice President – Research, Development and Quality for Merisant, Inc. He formerly held leadership positions with Kraft-Heinz and retired from there in 2015. “He is a highly accomplished food manufacturing leader with a passion for big, visionary ideas, and for helping people and organizations innovate, solve problems, and achieve more than they imagined,” says professor emerita Faye Dong, who nominated Moroz for the award.

Moroz served nine years on the ACES External Advisory Committee and seven years on the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition External Advisory Committee. He is a strong supporter of the ACES Research Apprentice Program, and secured Kraft Foods funding for the summer program for youth from under-represented groups. For a decade, Moroz led University of Illinois recruiting efforts for Kraft Foods. In addition to matching qualified students with internships and full-time employment, he offered opportunities for students to develop professional skills, including mock-interviews, shadow days, and information sessions.

Schulman is the president of Eli’s Cheesecake Company. Located on the northwest side of Chicago, Eli’s is the country’s largest specialty cheesecake bakery. “Schulman has passions for both education and agriculture,” says Louise Rogers, ACES alumnus and former associate dean for advancement. He is a long-time supporter of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and was influential in strengthening the relationship between the high school and the College of ACES. Schulman will be honored during a private event for the Aaron Easter Scholars. Schulman provides this scholarship in memory of Robert and Cheryl Easter’s son for students from Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences who are studying in the College of ACES.

Schulman shared his experiences in business with students in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, serving as an executive in residence. He has opened the doors of Eli’s Cheesecake Company on several occasions to both ACES students and alumni gatherings. Many attendees to the annual Salute to Agriculture celebration have enjoyed Eli’s Cheesecake, as Schulman facilitated the donation of hundreds of pieces of cheesecake.

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  • Russell Moroz
  • Marc Schulman

Benefits of fall core aeration for the lawn

Published August 16, 2016

URBANA, Ill. - Although it’s true that core aeration relieves soil compaction in the lawn, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator says coring has several more benefits for the grass plant soil profile, microbial activity in the ground, and thatch management.

“When the soil beneath the lawn is compacted, grass roots grow poorly,” says Richard Hentschel. “They stay nearer to the surface and are more readily affected by droughts. Coring allows the soil to relax and expand into the vacated core. This allows deeper roots. To encourage deeper roots, the core allows more soil oxygen into profile along with water. Both of these promote deeper rooting of your lawn grasses, which allow better disease resistance, for example.”

Another benefit is the lawn’s ability to remain green and actively growing during a brief drought. “If any topdressing is done with quality black dirt or using well-composted organic matter, this material will find its way into the core as well, improving the soil profile,” he says. “Any kind of organic matter will also support the microbial life in the ground, improving the symbiotic relationship between the grass root system and the microbes in the soil. Research shows that if the soil is in good health with teaming microbial activity, it in turn supports good grass growth by providing critical elements to the grass plant.”

According to Hentschel, core aeration can also maintain thatch levels under one-half inch.

“Homeowners hear the word ‘thatch’ and often think the worst,” Hentschel says. “In fact, having some thatch has benefits to the lawn. Thatch acts as insulation protecting the crown of the grass plant from quick changes in the weather, such as a sudden drop in temperature. Thatch also provides a cushion from foot traffic, protecting the grass plant crown from being crushed or damaged. Coring breaks through the thatch layer opening up those opportunities for air and water movement. When the core is ejected by the machine, there is also a plug of soil that is left on the surface. That soil containing those microbes can now begin to break down the thatch layer.”

Hentschel cautions that when the thatch layer is well over one-half inch in depth, using a dethatching machine will often result in the loss of the entire lawn. Coring is a way to recover the lawn without such a drastic measure. “This will not happen in one season and other management activities, such as high rates of fertilizers, should be modified.”

Core aeration alone will benefit the health of the lawn, Hentschel concludes. “Combining topdressing with any re-seeding or over seeding along with regular watering for at least three weeks will really turn the lawn around. Bluegrass lawns have two peak growing cycles in our climate. The greening and rapid growing in the spring is the first one. The second flush or growth is more about the root system expanding and storing food reserves in the cooler temperatures of fall. There is still growth above ground and mowing should continue well into late fall with a sharp mower blade.”

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

Major focus on corn and soybean yields, acreage questions surface

Published August 15, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – Corn and soybean markets are focused on the USDA’s August 12 Crop Production report that forecasts record U.S. yields and record production for both crops this year. University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good provides the following analysis.

The U.S. average corn yield is forecast at 175.1 bushels per acre, 6.7 bushels above the 2015 average and 4.1 bushels above the record average yield in 2014. Similarly, the U.S. average soybean yield is forecast at 48.9 bushels per acre, 0.9 bushel above the previous record yield of last year.

“The USDA yield forecasts were larger than reflected by pre-report trade guesses, but prices of both crops increased in the wake of the report,” Good says. “The price reaction may reflect a combination of the current demand strength in the export market for both crops and expectations that subsequent yield forecasts will fall short of the August forecasts.

“In addition to changes in yield forecasts, subsequent USDA production forecasts may also be influenced by changes in estimates of planted and/or harvested acreage,” Good says. “Over the past 20 years, the USDA’s final planted-acreage estimate for corn has differed from the June estimate by as little as 28,000 acres and as much as 2 million acres.”

For soybeans the difference has ranged from 32,000 to 2.5 million acres. Beginning with the October Crop Production report, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service supplements its survey-based estimates of planted acreage with administrative data. One of the major sources of administrative data is cropland-use data reported to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. As stated on the FSA website, “Farm Service Agency policy requires that producers participating in several programs submit an annual report regarding all cropland use on their farms.”  Beginning in August, the FSA provides a monthly summary of the crop acreages that have been reported and processed to date. A final report is issued in January of the following year.

“Because the FSA acreage data are used to supplement the National Agricultural Statistics Service survey acreage estimates, there has been a relatively consistent relationship between the final NASS acreage estimates and the final FSA acreage estimates,” Good says. “Because all farms do not participate in federal farm programs that require annual acreage reporting to FSA, NASS acreage estimates exceed acreage reported to FSA.”

In the nine years from 2007 through 2015, the NASS acreage estimates for corn exceeded acreage reported to FSA by an average of 3.4 percent, in a range of 2.6 to 4.7 percent. The difference was between 3.0 and 3.5 percent in seven of the nine years. For soybeans, the NASS acreage estimates exceeded acreage reported to FSA by an average of 1.8 percent, in a range of 1.2 to 3.0 percent.

“Given the relatively consistent relationship between NASS and FSA acreage estimates, participants in the corn and soybean market attempt to anticipate the final NASS acreage estimates based on monthly acreage summaries provided by FSA,” Good says. “The difficulty in that process is that the pace at which the monthly FSA acreage summaries approach the final acreage estimates released in January varies from year to year. For example, just over the past four years, the difference between the final acreage estimates and the August acreage report for corn ranged from1.1 to 3.6 million acres. The difference seems to be small in years of early planting, such as 2012, when producers can report early and larger in years of later planting. By October, the FSA acreage totals are typically very close to the final estimates released in January. However, that report is released to the public after the NASS October Crop Production report, which already incorporates the October FSA acreage data, is released.”

Even with the limitations of using the FSA’s August and September acreage reports to anticipate the final NASS acreage estimates, there is substantial interest in those monthly reports, Good says.

The first report for 2016 was released on August 12. For corn, producers had reported corn plantings of 90.365 million acres. That compares to the NASS June acreage estimate of 94.148 million acres. The NASS estimate is 4.2 percent larger than the FSA estimate, which is within the range of the final ratios over the past nine years. For soybeans, producers had reported plantings of 81.368 million acres, compared to the NASS June acreage estimate of 83.668 million acres. The NASS estimate is only 2.8 percent larger than the FSA estimate, which is also within the range of the final ratios over the past nine years.

“Some have argued that the relatively low NASS/FSA acreage ratios in August suggest that the final NASS acreage estimates will likely exceed the June estimates,” Good says. “That is, the expectation is that subsequent FSA reports will show larger plantings. If the ratio between NASS and FSA is maintained, the NASS estimate will also have to be increased. However, the current ratios may only reflect that a large proportion of farmers reported acreage early this year because crops were generally planted early.

“Although providing some useful benchmarks, the FSA’s August acreage report for corn and soybeans does not allow for a strong conclusion about where the final NASS acreage estimates will come in,” Good concludes. “It is too early to conclude that final acreage estimates will vary substantially from the June estimates.”



Digging and storing cannas

Published August 15, 2016

URBANA, Ill. - Now is the time to devise a plan for digging and storing cannas, says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Nancy Kreith.

“To successfully overwinter cannas indoors, the bulbs should be dug up after the first light frost has killed the top of the plant,” she explains. “Although technically they are not bulbs, but rhizomes, cannas need to be treated as tender bulbs and must be dug up to survive the winter. Some gardeners have reported success with cannas overwintering in the ground in micro-climates or against south facing walls due to the radiant heat from the building.”

Kreith says the most important thing to do when digging up rhizomes, tubers, or any tender bulb is to be careful not to wound these fleshy underground structures. “Wounds and bruises serve as entry points for diseases, which can cause rotting and loss in storage. This is true for any tropical plant with fleshy underground structures, such as elephant ears and caladiums.”

Kreith suggests following these simple steps to properly overwinter cannas indoors.

Start by cutting back the foliage to 4 to 6 inches above ground in order to see the base of the plant. Dig several inches away from the base of the plant, avoiding the underground structures. Carefully loosen the soil using a spade shovel. Remove the large clump of multiple structures from below the soil level. Separate the clumps and remove most of the soil by hand, and wrap each individual structure in newspaper. Finally, layer them in a crate or large tote with the lid off.  This is how they will remain stored until the following spring.

Be sure to monitor the bulbs every month for rotting pieces and pests. If found, remove infected pieces right away, Kreith recommends.

“Often times these structures multiply underground during the growing season,” Kreith explains. “Even though you may have only planted three to five bulbs the past summer, you could have well over that number by the fall. As the structures multiply, plan to incorporate cannas into more parts of your landscape or share them with friends and neighbors.

“As you read through the literature available, other sources will have varied recommendations for storing methods,” Kreith adds. “Some horticulturalists have been successful in overwintering cannas in an unheated garage or shed. Some tend to allow bulbs to cure and dry out for one to three days before storing. Others recommend removing all of the soil once dried and storing in peat moss or sawdust. I prefer to recycle newspaper. It acts as an aid in the curing process. The newspaper serves as a barrier that protects the structures from excess moisture. The main take-home point is to keep bulbs cool, dry, and out of freezing temperatures.”

To get a head start on the growing season, help bulbs emerge while indoors, Kreith says. Once the following spring comes around (about 4 to 6 weeks before the last average frost date) cannas can be planted in containers of professional potting mix. Unwrap the structures and plant them with the pointed side facing up. When using a large container (12 inches in diameter or more) multiple bulbs can be planted in the same pot.

Finally, place them in a sunny window or under artificial lighting and treat them as houseplants. The cannas can be planted outside after the danger of frost has passed.

Kreith has been successful at storing container-grown cannas by bringing in the whole container and storing them in a dark hallway closet. To do this, simply cut back the foliage after a light frost and place the container indoors. Let them remain dormant until the next spring and then put them in a sunny location. “Amazingly, as they receive more sunlight, signs of leaf growth will begin,” she says. “Over the past two years, my cannas have multiplied in the container and leave little to no room for planting other flowers. This container is now devoted solely to cannas, but over time, these structures will need to be divided and thinned out.”

Kreith says cannas are an easy-care tropical plant that provides beautiful foliage and long-lasting blooms. Repeated blooms are encouraged by deadheading spent flowers. “This versatile plant comes in a variety of leaf colors and can range from 1 foot to more than 6 feet tall. For the greatest foliage color and fullest blooms, place cannas in full sun with plenty of water and healthy soil.”

News Source:

Nancy Kreith, 708-679-6889,

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

Adding milk, meat to diet dramatically improves nutrition for poor in Zambia

Published August 10, 2016
Zambian family
  • Since 1961 in Zambia there has been a notable decline in the availability of milk, meat, eggs, and beans, and an increase in cassava and vegetable oils.
  • Adding livestock to poor households in developing countries such as Zambia is shown to improve their financial status, but how the addition of milk and meat to their diet effects their nutrition has not been studied.
  • This research finds that adding a small amount of milk and meat to the diet dramatically improves the supply of nutrients—specifically protein, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin A, B2, B12, and D.

URBANA, Ill. – Over the past several decades in Zambia, data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations show that there has been a decrease in the per capita consumption of milk, meat, and eggs and an increase in starchy roots, primarily cassava.  The resulting diet is vitamin and mineral deficient. This leads to stunted growth and slowed brain development, shortened life expectancy, increased rates of infant mortality, vulnerability to disease and illness, and inability of mothers to nurse. Researchers at the University of Illinois compared four diet scenarios to better understand differences among differing dietary approaches to help improve the nutrition of the poor in developing countries such as Zambia.

“We started by defining a typical diet in Zambia by using data from the World Food Dietary Assessment System,” says U of I economist Peter Goldsmith. “It’s a program that was developed primarily for dietary research projects in developing countries.  A baseline is established based on food availability, not actual consumption.”

Because over the past 10 years or so, charitable organizations have gifted poor Zambian households with livestock, the researchers were particularly interested in how well the addition of animal source food would compare with plant-based supplemented diets. Specifically the research team studied what adding various amounts of milk and meat each day would do to the nutrient levels in the typical diet, as compared with plant-based augmentation.

  • The first scenario added 18 ounces of whole cow milk each day to the baseline diet.
  • The second scenario added meat—60 grams of beef, 30 grams of chicken, and 5 grams of beef liver. Together this equals about one-fifth of a pound of meat.
  • The third scenario included both milk and meat.
  • And in the fourth scenario, an isocaloric diet mix (comparable in calories to the other three) of locally available plant-based foods was added—cassava, corn flour, wheat, sweet potato, sugar and oils. The analysis focused on changes in the levels of protein, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin A, B2, B12, and D in the diet.

The dietary allowance was based on conservative estimates of a healthy male between 19 to 50 years old, weighing about 175 pounds. Other groups such as children and teens or nursing mothers generally have much higher daily requirements.

“When comparing all four scenarios, the milk-alone scenario increases the calcium level to a 67 percent probability of being adequate. We find that the plant source food-enhanced diet only eliminates the risk of vitamin A inadequacy,” Goldsmith says. “But the milk plus meat scenario raises all essential nutrients to the recommended dietary allowance, with the exception of calcium, which has the probability of being 78 percent adequate, and vitamin D, which has the probability of only being 20 percent adequate.”

Goldsmith says that as an economist he wants to identify the most efficient way to improve nutrition. For example, putting iodine in salt is a very efficient way to eliminate iodine deficiencies but there are a lot of other micronutrients to consider.

“We wonder whether there are cost-effective ways to achieve a more nutritionally complete diet,” Goldsmith says. “Although animal source foods deliver a dense and broad bundle of nutrients, livestock production can be a difficult system to adopt and manage. A country or a village, for example, may not have a tradition of raising animals. Farmers might not have the labor to pasture, adequate water supplies, funds to build shelters for the animals, or access to animal feed.

“The data from this research are compelling. But there is a reason why the steady state of nutrition is plant based. It’s relatively straight forward to implement. That’s the dilemma for the development community. Do you stick to what’s more culturally normative, such as introducing enriched rice, or do you introduce new models that may in the long run be more efficient and deliver a broad range of nutrients at a lower cost per unit? The addition of some milk and eggs, for example, might be an efficient way to simultaneously improve diets across a number of deficiency areas.  Comparing models in terms of environmental sustainability also needs to be factored into the analysis.  Clearly more research is needed to model and understand the tradeoffs among the various approaches to improving nutrient adequacy,” Goldsmith says.

“The importance of animal source foods for nutrient sufficiency in the developing world: The Zambia scenario” is published in the Food and Nutrition Bulletin. It is co-authored by Zhiying Zhang, Peter Goldsmith, and Alex Winter-Nelson.

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Webinar on economic development strategies in Illinois

Published August 10, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension will host a free webinar, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies at Work in Illinois, on Thurs., Sept. 15 from noon to 1 p.m.

Darrin Fleener, economic development representative from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s Chicago regional office, will provide an overview of the regional planning process. Prior to EDA, Fleener worked for 13 years with the State of Oregon’s economic development department in project management, program development, government relations, and as a rural affairs policy advisor. His professional experience includes working in both urban and rural distressed communities. 

Also presenting will be Jennifer Daly, CEO of Greater Peoria Economic Development District. Daly will share Peoria’s approach to creating a regionally driven economic development process as well as outcomes that have been achieved through this new strategy.

“Economic development requires effective, collaborative institutions that are focused on advancing mutual gain for the public and the private sector,” says Kathie Brown, U of I Extension community and economic development educator. “It’s essential to ensuring the economic future of both rural and urban communities across our state.”

There is no cost to attend the webinar; however, pre-registration is required. Register online to attend or contact Kathie Brown (309-255-9189, for more information.