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Original northern border of Illinois was south of Chicago and Lake Michigan

Published September 11, 2014
Map showing original Illinois border

URBANA, Ill. – Chicago residents today might have had a Wisconsin zip code if the originally proposed northern boundary of Illinois had been approved. It was a straight line from the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan to just south of the Rock and Mississippi River confluence. University of Illinois soil scientist Ken Olson said that had the proposed northern border not been changed, the state of Illinois would have a much smaller population and footprint with the northern 51 miles of the Illinois Territory ceded to Wisconsin when it became a state in 1848.

Olson says Illinois has Nathaniel Pope to thank for the additional farmland, population, and lakefront property. The northern border was moved north to allow the linkage of the Great Lakes shipping route to the Illinois and Mississippi river navigation channels, giving Illinois a valuable shoreline on Lake Michigan and a location for a shipping port hub which became Chicago.

“Pope was Illinois Territory’s congressional delegate at the time,” explained Olson. “He and his brother, a Kentucky senator, were able to convince Congress to move the proposed border to its present-day location—and that shift in the northern boundary completely altered the fortunes of Wisconsin and Illinois. In addition to the economic benefits of the Chicago port, Illinois acquired 5.5 million acres of very productive soil for farming.” The linkage of the Great Lakes waterway to the Illinois and Mississippi river waterways provided a northern route to move troops and supplies during the Civil War to avoid the contested Ohio River.

Illinois’s western border location was determined by an intervention of nature in the Pleistocene Era. “Numerous glacial advances covered most of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois,” Olson said. “Meltwaters from these glaciers contributed to the realignment of the Mississippi River, which became the western border when Illinois became a state. Before the Pleistocene glacial period, the ancient Mississippi River passed much farther to the east. The land between the Quad Cities Peoria and Alton would not be part of Illinois. So if the Mississippi River had not been realigned by the glaciers, another 7.5 million acres would belong to the states of Missouri and Iowa.” Illinois would have lost some of its best soils for corn and soybean production.

Looking southwest, Olson said that seismic activity in the New Madrid area and glacial melt waters approximately 12,000 to 15,000 years ago affected the re-routing of the ancient Mississippi and Ohio rivers to their current locations. He pointed to the modern-day Cache River valley of southern Illinois with its swamps, sloughs, and shallow lakes—remnants of the ancient Ohio River whose confluence with the Mississippi River was once northwest of Cairo.

“Following seismic activity in 1000 A.D., the Cache River valley dropped to its current elevation and was no longer connected to the current Ohio River,” Olson said. “The Cache River valley is deeper at a lower elevation, between 320 and 340 feet, than would otherwise be expected in a slow-moving swampy river system, and the presence of thousand-year-old baldcypress trees confirm the natural conversion of river bottomland into swamplands.

“If all of these waterway-related changes had not occurred, the State of Illinois would only have 22 million acres and would be substantially smaller than its current 35 million acres,” Olson said. The agricultural lands in Illinois would have been reduced by 40 percent, affecting its agricultural productive capacity, which is an economic engine of the State of Illinois.

Olson concluded. “Chicago and Rockford would be in Wisconsin, Cairo and Metropolis in Kentucky, Quincy in Missouri, and Rock Island, Moline, and Peoria would be in Iowa.” The commercial activity from all these cities would not have contributed to Illinois’s economic development.

Olson’s research suggests that the size and shape of Illinois may have been dramatically different without these natural waterway border changes to the west and south and Nathaniel Pope’s intercession on Illinois’s northern boundary.

“How Waterways, Glacial Melt Waters, and Earthquakes Re-aligned Ancient Rivers and Changed Illinois Borders,” was published in the Journal of Earth Science and Engineering and was co-authored by Fred Christensen, an instructor at the University of Illinois Osher Lifelong Learning Center. 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. The published paper is available at





Dates and locations set for 2015 University of Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics

Published September 11, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – Mark your calendars for the 2015 University of Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics.

The upcoming meetings will mark the 18th year of the Classics. Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist, said this year’s program will continue the tradition of providing clientele with the most current and timely information related to crop production, marketing, and pest management.

The dates and meeting locations for the 2015 Corn & Soybean Classics are:

  • January 7- Par-A-Dice Hotel, Peoria
  • January 8 - iWireless Center, Moline
  • January 9 - Kishwaukee College, Malta
  • January 12 - Crowne Plaza, Springfield
  • January 13 - I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign
  • January 14 - Holiday Inn, Mt. Vernon

Additional information related to the program will appear in a future issue of the Bulletin at

New help for living with diabetes: Your Guide to Diet and Diabetes website

Published September 9, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – No doubt you know at least one person with diabetes because the incidence of this disease is increasing every day. This disease affects not only the person with diabetes, but also the whole family.

Healthy eating is a cornerstone of diabetes management, and the newly updated University of Illinois Extension website, “Your Guide to Diet and Diabetes” gives people with diabetes—and the people who live with them—extra help in doing just that.  

Although there is no such thing as a “diabetic diet,” the website, found at, explains how food affects your blood glucose and why.

“Even people with diabetes may not understand how insulin and blood glucose work together. We wanted to show animations and examples so they would understand,” said Karen Chapman-Novakofski, a U of I professor of nutrition extension who developed the website.

"I’ve had type 2 diabetes since 2005, and it’s a struggle for me to maintain my weight. This is a great resource. I appreciate it,” said one visitor to the website.

The site contains background information about how diabetes is diagnosed, the difference between types of diabetes, and an explanation of possible complications of the disease.

“However, the major intention of the site is helping people with their food choices. People like to eat, and food is a big part of most social occasions. You shouldn’t feel left out if you have diabetes or live with someone who has diabetes,” Chapman-Novakofski added.

The site includes a practice page for making healthy meals, a glossary of terms you may not know, and other recommended websites.

The site is available in Spanish as well, and it has links to other U of I Extension sites that focus on diabetes, including “Diabetes Lifelines,” “Recipes for Diabetes,” and “Fiesta of Flavors.”



Sept. 1 corn stocks estimate – Does it matter?

Published September 8, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – Corn prices continue to be dominated by expectations of a very large U.S. harvest. The USDA will release a new forecast of the size of the crop on Sept. 11. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, the market expectation is that the new forecast will be about 250 million bushels larger than the August forecast and that the forecast is likely to be larger again in October, reflecting a U.S. average yield well above trend value. With such a large harvest, the estimate of Sept. 1 stocks of old-crop corn will have less importance than was the case in the previous three years when stocks were generally small and the U.S. average corn yield was below trend value.

“Still, there will be some information in the Sept. 1 stocks estimate as it will reveal the magnitude of consumption during the final quarter of the 2013-14 marketing year and perhaps provide some insight into the accuracy of the 2013 corn production estimate,” said Darrel Good. “The price implications of the estimate, if any, will depend on the magnitude of stocks relative to the expected level of stocks. The magnitude of exports during the final quarter of the marketing year is mostly known.

“The Census Bureau estimated exports during June and July at 368 million bushels so that exports during the first 11 months of the marketing year exceeded USDA export inspection estimates by 55.5 million bushels,” Good continued. “For August, USDA export inspection estimates totaled 171 million bushels, suggesting that the Census Bureau estimate when released on Oct. 3 will be near 176 million bushels. Exports during the fourth quarter of the marketing year may be near 544 million bushels, the most in five years. Exports for the entire marketing year would be near 1.924 billion bushels, close to the current USDA forecast,” Good said.

An estimate of the amount of corn used for ethanol production during the final quarter of the marketing year is based on the estimates of ethanol production released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). A monthly ethanol production estimate is available for June, and weekly estimates are available through August 29.

“With two days remaining in the quarter, it appears that summer-quarter ethanol production will total 3.668 billion gallons,” Good said. “Most, but not all, ethanol is made from corn, and the yield of ethanol from each bushel of feedstock varies somewhat. During the last half of the 2013-14 marketing year, the amount of sorghum used to make ethanol has declined. As a result, a slightly higher percentage of ethanol was made from corn. To forecast the amount of corn used for ethanol production during the last quarter of the year, we simply use the ratio of total ethanol production to corn consumption estimated by USDA for the third quarter of the marketing year. That ratio of 2.74 implies that 1.338 billion bushels of corn were used during the final quarter of the year and that 5.132 billion bushels were used during the entire marketing year. That is 12 million bushels more than the most recent USDA forecast. The USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report to be released on Sept. 11 will contain an updated estimate of marketing-year corn use for ethanol production,” Good said.

The USDA has forecast corn consumption for domestic processing other than ethanol during the 2013-14 marketing year at 1.385 billion bushels, 20 million less than was used during the previous year. Use during the first three quarters of the marketing year was estimated to be 13 million bushels less than use of a year earlier so that, according to Good, the USDA projection for the year appears reasonable. If correct, usage during the final quarter would have totaled 348 million bushels, resulting in total processing use (including ethanol) of 1.686 billion bushels.

For the entire 2013-14 marketing year, the USDA has projected feed and residual use of corn at 5.175 billion bushels. Use during the first three quarters of the year was estimated at 4.71 billion bushels. To reach the projection for the year, use during the fourth quarter needed to total 465 million bushels. Estimated use during the final quarter of the marketing year was extremely small the previous two years, averaging only 288 million bushels. Estimated use in the final quarter of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 marketing years averaged 474 million bushels. Estimated use during the final quarter in the three years preceding 2009-10 averaged 704 million bushels. 

“The pattern of estimated feed and residual use of corn during the final quarter of the marketing year over the past seven years makes it difficult to anticipate use this year,” Good said. “Use should be larger than in the previous two years, supported by low corn prices relative to other feed ingredients and very modest expansion in broiler and dairy cow numbers. In addition, the availability of new-crop corn in August, which can replace old-crop corn consumption, was not unusually large this year. However, because estimates of feed use are entirely residual calculations, estimated use can differ substantially from expectations.”

June 1 stocks of corn were estimated at 3.854 billion bushels. With imports of about 6 million bushels during the last quarter, supplies totaled 3.86 billion bushels.

“Based on our estimates of exports and domestic-processing use of corn and assuming that feed and residual use equaled the USDA projection, corn consumption during the final quarter of the year totaled 2.695 billion bushels,” Good said. “Under that scenario, Sept. 1 stocks of old-crop corn would have stood at 1.165 billion bushels. The actual estimate will have to deviate from that forecast by a large amount to have a price impact.”

Researchers test organic vs. inorganic microminerals fed to pigs

Published September 8, 2014

URBANA, Ill. - Pigs require micromineral supplements in their diets to achieve optimal growth and health. However, feeding supplements that aren't well digested can cause pigs to excrete excess minerals, which may reduce profits and also increase pollution to the external environment. Research from the University of Illinois may help swine producers decide which micromineral supplements are best for their pigs.

Microminerals can be fed in organic or inorganic forms. Organic microminerals may be produced by chelating mineral ions with organic molecules such as hydroxy methylthio butanoic acid (HMTBa) or glycine. Inorganic microminerals are metal salts such as sulfates or oxides.

"Our theory was that organic sources of microminerals are better digested by the pigs and result in less waste and more economical feeding," said Hans H. Stein, a professor of animal sciences at the U of I.

Stein's lab conducted an experiment to compare digestibility in organic sources of microminerals and inorganic sources fed to weanling pigs. They fed 48 growing pigs diets based on either corn and soybean meal, or a low mineral diet based on corn grits and sorghum. To these diets, they added one of three supplements: a supplement containing inorganic sources zinc, copper, manganese, and iron in the form of sulfates; a supplement containing organic sources of the same minerals chelated with HMTBa or glycine; or a basal supplement that did not contain any of these four microminerals.

Results indicated that responses to organic versus inorganic microminerals depended on the type of diet. When pigs were fed the corn-soybean meal diet supplemented with organic minerals, they had increased absorption, retention, and apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of zinc, copper, and manganese, as well as increased absorption and retention of iron compared with pigs fed the inorganic sources of minerals.

There was no difference in absorption, retention, or ATTD of microminerals for pigs fed corn grits and sorghum diets supplemented with organic or inorganic sources of minerals.

"Corn-soybean meal diets contain more phytic acid than corn grits diets," Stein explained. "Minerals can form complexes with phytic acid that are indigestible by the pigs, but these results indicate that organic microminerals are less likely to form complexes. So, in a high-phytate diet, organic microminerals can improve ATTD and absorption of minerals."

The paper, "Digestibility and retention of zinc, copper, manganese, iron, calcium, and phosphorus in pigs fed diets containing inorganic or organic minerals," was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Animal Science. It was co-authored by Yanhong Liu of the University of Illinois along with Yulin Ma, Junmei Zhao, and Mercedes Vazquez-Añón of Novus International of St. Charles, Missouri.

Novus International provided financial support for the research.