URBANA, Ill. – Mark your calendars for an opportunity to explore the latest research in crop sciences during the 59th annual Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 18.
"Agronomic research has been conducted at the University of Illinois since the university’s earliest days," says Bob Dunker, agronomist and former superintendent of the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center and chairperson for Agronomy Day. “The first Agronomy Day held in 1957 had the same objective as the one you will attend this year—to communicate research results that benefit the agriculture community, which in turn helps feed our growing population across the globe.”
Importantly, Agronomy Day will be held in a new location this year. The Crop Sciences Research and Education Center South First Street Facility, located at 4202 South 1st Street in Savoy, will provide more parking, space for laboratory tours, shorter tour walking distances, and less traffic from campus. Directions to the new facility appear on the Agronomy Day website.
Nearly 1,000 visitors are expected to attend Agronomy Day. Researchers will discuss a variety of topics from soil fertility to insect management, crop production, weed control, corn and soybean genetics, plant diseases, farm economics, and agricultural engineering.
Field tours depart at 7 a.m. from the main tent at the new location, making stops at research plots continuously until 2 p.m. Lunch is available for a nominal charge. The exhibition tent will feature exhibits by ACES programs, commercial vendors, research posters, and student clubs.
Is fall-applied nitrogen still present?
URBANA, Ill. – The pattern of warmer- and wetter-than-usual weather this past winter has changed in recent months, but hopes for a warm, dry, early spring have faded. Corn growers are concerned about the amount of fall-applied nitrogen that might have been lost through the winter and how this might change nitrogen management this spring.
“Most Illinois producers waited until soil temperatures had dropped to 50 degrees or below before applying anhydrous ammonia last fall, but soil temperatures didn’t stay down as much as usual. We also got enough rainfall in December to cause concerns about whether nitrogen is still in the soil,” says University of Illinois crop scientist Emerson Nafziger.
Nafziger and Dan Schaefer of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association sampled soil around the state in winter and early spring to measure the amount of nitrogen that has disappeared from the top two feet of soil as a result of the winter conditions.
A sample of eight fields in Vermilion County showed little change in soil nitrogen between December and February, though there was some loss of nitrate between the January and February samples. The percentage of recovered nitrogen that was in the ammonium form—the form that is safe from immediate loss due to binding with negative charges in the soil—actually went up.
Nafziger also sampled fields in Urbana and Monmouth and found a considerable drop in soil nitrogen between early January and late February in both locations. Using N-Serve® made little difference in the amount of nitrogen recovered or in the percentage of recovered nitrogen that was still in the ammonium form.
N-Serve®, a Dow nitrogen stabilizing product applied with ammonia in the fall, was applied in two neighboring fields in Champaign county. In January, 70 percent of the recovered nitrogen in the field with N-Serve was in the form of ammonium, compared to 53 percent ammonium in the field without N-Serve. By mid-March, 73 percent of the recovered nitrogen in the field with N-Serve was ammonium, compared with only 39 percent in the field without N-Serve.
“We need to be cautious because this is from only a few samples, but in this case it looks like nitrapyrin (the active ingredient in N-Serve) did what it is supposed to do: keep ammonium from converting to nitrate, thereby reducing the amount of nitrogen subject to loss. Whether or not that will make a difference in how much nitrogen is available to the corn crop depends entirely on what sort of weather, soil, and crop conditions we have up to the time nitrogen uptake starts,” Nafziger explains.
Overall, results were mixed across the sites and sampling times, ranging from disappearance of more than half of the nitrogen from the top two feet of soil to only small changes. The percentages of soil nitrogen present as ammonium were lower than expected, which could mean considerable potential for loss if wet weather returns.
“We have little previous experience looking at soil nitrogen from fall to spring, so there’s no reason to panic at this point, or to order more fertilizer to replace what might have disappeared,” Nafziger cautions. “Our best strategy now is to assume that most of the nitrogen we applied last fall is still in the soil, to get the crop planted as conditions allow, and to both monitor the crop and stay tuned as we continue to monitor soil nitrogen up to the time that the crop is taking up nitrogen rapidly.”
Nafziger adds that if warm and dry weather returns, there will be little N loss in the coming months If the opposite happens, producers would still have time to manage nitrogen for good yields while minimizing further loss.
This work was partially funded by the Nutrient Research and Education Council. For more details and data, read the full article at: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/?p=3554.
Soybean Innovation Lab releases promotional video
The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) is building a foundation for soybean production in Africa by developing the knowledge, innovation, and technologies to enable successful soybean production. SIL's network spans 80 locations, 21 countries, and six continents.
Click the arrow to watch the new video about SIL.
To learn more, visit: http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu.
Implications of corn and soybean planting progress
URBANA, Ill. – Each spring the corn and soybean markets react to the pace of planting, reflecting expectations that an unusually fast or slow pace of planting may affect acreage decisions and/or yields. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, recent and current large rainfall totals in the Delta and Plains states and forecasts for a stormier pattern in the Corn Belt have triggered the annual discussion of the production implications of corn and soybean planting progress.
“The definition of what constitutes early or late planting varies by geographic region and has likely changed over time,” says Darrel Good. “Characterizing planting progress on a national basis, then, is somewhat complicated.”
Referring to the topic previously argued in Marketing & Outlook Briefs (June 2009 and July 2009), Good points out that for the period from 1986 forward, planting in the major producing states that occurs after May 20 for corn and after May 30 for soybeans should be considered late in terms of the potential impact on national average yields.
“Using our definition, the portion of the crops planted late over the past 30 years ranged from 4 percent (2012) to 47 percent (1995) for corn and 9 percent (2012) to 65 percent (1990) for soybeans. The historical record might provide some indication of the potential impact on acreage and yields in subsequent years of unusually small or large percentages of the crops that are planted late,” Good says. “For the 10 years since 1986 with the smallest and largest percentages of the crops planted late, we examine how the final estimate of planted acreage differed from intentions reported in the USDA’s March Prospective Plantings report and how the national average yield differed from the trend yield calculation for that year.”
Good notes that for corn, the 11 years when the smallest portion of the crop was planted late are considered because there is a tie for 10th place.
“Not surprisingly, deviations in planted acreage from intentions in years of extreme planting progress demonstrated a mixed pattern,” Good says.
In years when the smallest percentage of the crop was planted late, corn planted acreage exceeded intentions in eight years and was less than intentions in only three years. Deviations from planting intentions ranged from -1.9 million acres to 3.1 million acres and averaged 513,000 acres. In three of the eight years that corn acreage exceeded intentions, soybean acreage also exceeded intentions.
In the 10 years when the smallest percentage of the soybean crop was planted late, planted acreage exceeded intentions in five of the years and was less than intentions in five of the years. The deviation from intentions ranged from -2.4 million acres to 3.3 million acres and averaged 114,000 acres.
In the 10 years when the largest percentage of the corn acreage was planted late, planted acreage was less than intentions in eight years and exceeded intentions in two years. Deviations from planting intentions ranged from -3.8 million acres to 1.9 million acres and averaged 513,000 acres.
In the 10 years when the largest percentage of the soybean acreage was planted late, planted acreage was less than intentions in five years and exceeded intentions in five years. Deviations from planting intentions ranged from -1.6 million acres to 2.1 million acres and averaged 65,000 acres.
In years when the smallest percentage of the crops were planted late, the national average yield exceeded trend value in 7 of 11 years for corn and 7 of 10 years for soybeans. Yields ranged from 33.8 bushels below trend to 18 bushels above trend for corn and 6.6 bushels below trend to 5.4 bushels above trend for soybeans. Overall, average yields were 1.4 bushels below trend for corn and 0.6 bushels above trend for soybeans.
In years when the largest percentage of the crops were planted late, the national average yield fell below trend value in 6 of 10 years for corn and in 7 of 10 years for soybeans. Yields ranged from 21.6 bushels below trend to 12.9 bushels above trend for corn, and 3.0 bushels below trend to 0.8 bushels above trend for soybeans. For the 10 years, the average yields were 2.4 bushels below trend for corn and 0.7 bushels below trend for soybeans.
According to Good, it is not yet known whether a relatively large or small percentage of the 2016 corn and soybean crops will be planted late. The USDA’s Crop Progress report indicated that 4 percent of the corn acreage had been planted as of April 10, equal to the previous five-year average pace.
“Producers still have more than a month to plant corn and six weeks to plant soybeans before planting would be considered late by our definition,” Good says. “The current concern is about the potential delay in corn planting. If planting becomes unusually late, the corn market will likely begin to reflect expectations for fewer acres than intended and a risk of the average yield falling below trend.
“Observations since 1986 suggest that there is a tendency for corn acreage to exceed intentions in years when a small percentage of the crop is planted late and for acreage to fall short of intentions when a large percentage of the crop is planted late,” Good concludes. “However, the large variation in the direction and magnitude of acreage deviations from intentions makes it difficult to form expectations for 2016. Deviations in planted acreage of soybeans from intentions have shown no clear pattern based on the lateness of planting. There has also been a tendency for the national average corn and soybean yields to fall below trend value in years when a large percentage of the crop was planted late. The variation in the direction and magnitude of deviation is an indication that the effect of planting date on yield is dominated by the yield impact of summer weather. Markets should be more focused on growing season weather prospects than on planting progress.”
ACES Funk Award recipients recognized
URBANA, Ill. -- Each spring the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) recognizes faculty, staff, and graduate students who have demonstrated outstanding achievements or exceptional service to the college. The recipients are honored at the annual Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards Banquet. This year, the banquet was held Monday, April 11, at Pear Tree Estate in rural Champaign, Ill.
The awards program was established in 1970 by the Paul A. Funk Foundation of Bloomington, Ill., as a memorial to the late Paul A. Funk, who attended the college as a member of the class of 1929 and devoted his life to agriculture.
The following is a list of this year’s award recipients:
PAUL A. FUNK RECOGNITION AWARD
Karen Chapman-Novakofski, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Fred Kolb, Crop Sciences
Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, Animal Sciences
SPITZE LAND-GRANT PROFESSORIAL CAREER EXCELLENCE AWARD
Rodney Johnson, Animal Sciences
FACULTY AWARD FOR GLOBAL IMPACT
Mosbah Kushad, Crop Sciences
TEAM AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction and Science Assessment Team:
Carla Blue, University of Illinois Extension
Eliana Brown, University of Illinois Extension
George Czapar, University of Illinois Extension
Mark David, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Kaitlin Hollenbeck, University of Illinois Extension
Corrie Layfield, University of Illinois Extension
Greg McIsaac, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Lisa Merrifield, University of Illinois Extension
Brian Miller, University of Illinois Extension
Corey Mitchell, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Anjanette Riley, University of Illinois Extension
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
FACULTY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
Senior - Amy Ando, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
College - Anna Dilger, Animal Sciences
FACULTY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH
Senior - Keith Cadwallader, Food Science and Human Nutrition
College - Katherine Baylis, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
FACULTY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN EXTENSION
Senior - Angela Wiley, Human Development and Family Studies
College - Phil Cardoso, Animal Sciences
KARL E. GARDNER OUTSTANDING UNDERGRADUATE ADVISER AWARD
Janeen Salak-Johnson, Animal Sciences
JOHN CLYDE AND HENRIETTA DOWNEY SPITLER TEACHING AWARD
Robert Knox, Animal Sciences
TEACHING ASSOCIATE TEACHING AWARD
Kari Keating, Agricultural Education
PROFESSIONAL STAFF AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Sustained Excellence—Advising, Teaching and Outreach
Jan Brooks, Human Development and Family Studies
Pamela Utterback, Animal Sciences
Sustained Excellence—Administrative/Management or Technical Contributions
LeAnn Ormsby, ACES Information Technology and Communication Services
Innovation and Creativity
Jessa Barnard, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
MARCELLA M. NANCE STAFF AWARD
Robert Chappell, ACES Academic Programs
STAFF AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Nikki Baker, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Myra Sully, Animal Sciences
SERVICE RECOGNITION AWARD
Lisa Ainsworth, Crop Sciences
GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH AWARD
Ph.D. - Tzu-Wen Liu, Nutritional Sciences
M.S. - Angie Daum, Food Science and Human Nutrition
LOUIS V. LOGEMAN GRADUATE STUDENT TEACHING AWARD
Brad Daigneault, Animal Sciences
Dina Izenstark, Human Development and Family Studies
ACES ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AWARD OF MERIT
Donna R. Greene, B.S. ’75 Home Economics Education, Champaign, Ill.
Dr. Robert J. Gustafson, B.S. ’71 Ag Engineering; M.S. ’72 Ag Engineering, Worthington, Ohio
W. Scott McAdam, B.S. ’80 Horticulture, Lemont, Ill.
James R. Shearl, M.S. ’76 Extension Education, Loda, Ill.
Corn market waiting for summer weather
URBANA, Ill. – From the daily high on March 30 to the daily low on April 1, May 2016 futures prices declined by 20 cents. The decline reflected the larger-than-expected planting intentions reported by USDA on March 31 and followed a month-long modest price rally. Prices have recently recovered somewhat from the sharp decline of a week ago, consistent with the rollercoaster, sideways pattern of prices experienced since late last fall. The question now is whether there is reason to anticipate a more sustained increase in prices than has been experienced over the past three months.
“From a fundamental perspective, higher corn prices in the near term could be generated by a more rapid pace of consumption, production concerns, or a combination of the two,” says University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. “In the longer term, higher prices could be generated by a stronger demand environment, stemming from more rapid U.S. and global economic growth. The focus, however, remains on near-term prospects for price improvement that would reduce some of the financial stress beginning to be experienced by producers.”
Good says on the consumption side, much of the current focus is on the pace of exports and whether or not the projected level of exports for the year will be reached.
“Last week’s Census Bureau export estimates for February allow for an update of export progress,” Good says. The report indicated that corn exports in the first half of the 2015-16 marketing year exceeded cumulative USDA weekly export inspection estimates by 39 million bushels. Exports during the first half of the year totaled 642 million bushels, 163 million less than exports during the same period last year. “To reach the current USDA export projection of 1.65 billion bushels for the year, exports during the last half of the year need to total 1.008 billion bushels, 51 million bushels less than exported in that period last year,” he adds.
Export inspections in March totaled 169 million bushels, just slightly more than during March 2015. Good added that shipments now need to average 38.4 million bushels per week to reach the USDA projection. Export inspections for the three weeks that ended March 31, averaged 40.1 million bushels. Cumulative exports plus unshipped export sales as of March 31 totaled 1.32 billion bushels. New sales of 330 million bushels, an average of 15.1 million bushels per week for the remainder of the year, are needed to elevate commitments to 1.65 billion bushels. Sales have averaged 34.4 million bushels per week since Jan.1 and 38.4 million bushels per week over the past five weeks.
“The current pace of exports and export sales are clearly sufficient for exports to reach 1.65 billion bushels for the year,” Good says. “However, with year-ending stocks expected to be abundant, exports will need to exceed that projection to have any price impact. One factor that will influence the magnitude of U.S. exports late in the marketing year is the size of the South American harvest. While the Brazilian government just recently increased the estimate of the size of the harvest there, some concern about production prospects is stemming from expanding dryness in the areas of second-crop corn production. Weather in that area was very favorable the past two years, contributing to large crops and large exports. Weather and crop conditions there will be an ongoing story.”
According to Good, although U.S. corn exports (as well as the use of corn for ethanol production) could exceed the current projection, a smaller-than-expected U.S. crop, or the threat of a smaller crop, may be required to generate a more sustained corn price rally.
“The magnitude of planted and harvested acreage will influence crop size, but the more important issue is yield,” Good says. “With current weather conditions not favoring a rapid, early planting of the crop, there is some concern about the potential yield impact of a late-planted crop. It is likely too early to be concerned about late planting. The planting window for maintaining yield prospects at maximum or near-maximum levels is fairly wide and probably wider than generally appreciated by the market. Planting delays that extend beyond mid-May in the Midwest would present a larger yield concern.”
Unless significant planting delays are experienced, Good says yield prospects will hinge largely on summer weather conditions, as is the case in most years. “At this time of year, there is typically no strong guidance, or at least not a strong consensus, about weather prospects during the heart of the reproductive and grain-filling period for corn over a wide geographic area. This year, there is considerable focus on the implications, if any, of the rapidly fading strong El Niño episode for summer weather prospects. Our analysis of previous such events suggests that the current El Niño episode does not provide definitive guidance for summer weather and corn yield prospects, but may point to an elevated risk of the U.S. average corn yield falling below trend value.”
Good concludes that the current uncertainty about corn yield prospects in 2016 leads to two observations. “First, only a small shortfall in the U.S. average corn yield below trend would be required to eliminate the current modest surplus of corn. Second, the market appears to be taking a wait-and-see attitude about yield prospects with little production risk reflected in new-crop corn prices. These factors suggest maintaining patience in pricing the 2016 corn crop. An average yield above trend would likely put some additional pressure on corn prices, but that risk is not immediate,” he says.