College of ACES
College News

June is perennial gardening month

Published June 1, 2016
Perennial display

URBANA, Ill. – For many gardeners, spring is a mad rush of cleaning up the garden, purchasing “dream” plants, dividing, planting, mulching, and fertilizing. By the time June rolls around, gardeners can take a more leisurely approach, studying areas in the garden that need improvement and making plans to fill in gaps.

“June is the perfect time to purchase and plant perennials,” says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Martha Smith. “In June, the garden center will feature larger, more mature flowering plants than those available in the spring.”

If gardeners opt for warm season ornamental grasses, Smith cautions that they shouldn’t expect too much right away. “You have to have a lot of faith that they are really growing and will look like the picture later in the season. Miscanthus, Pancium, Pennisetum, and Saccharum species all need some heat to get growing. June is when they start to fill in their container and look like something. The heat of the summer hasn’t hit yet, so June is a great month to initiate, rejuvenate, or redo a perennial garden area,” Smith says.

June is also a great month to get ideas. Smith suggests visiting a botanical garden or traveling to an old favorite or a yet-unseen garden center for new perennials. Watch for garden walks in your community for new plant combinations and ideas on how to place perennials. Attend lectures when offered at local gardens, retail outlets, or extension offices. Sign up for garden bus tours if offered in your community.

“Or,” Smith says, “just get in a car (with a very large trunk) with a few gardening friends and road-trip to new unchartered garden territory! There are many ways you can learn and experience gardening in June.”

Above all, Smith notes, be sure to set aside time in June to enjoy your own garden. Revel in the success of all your work and dedication. Take the time to record what you did this season and the plans you have for next year. Bring flowers indoors for fresh bouquets to share with your family, or take to work and share with co-workers.

News Source:

Martha Smith, 309-756-9978

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

Study shows that plasma protein supplementation helps prevent cell death in diabetes

Published June 1, 2016
  • The number of cases of diabetes continues to rise worldwide with no curative therapy in existence.
  • In both type 1 and type 2 diabetes important insulin-producing beta-cells are destroyed.
  • Research collaboration shows evidence that supplementation of a plasma protein (protein S) can prevent beta-cell death.

URBANA, Ill. – Diabetes continues to be a global health problem, with the number of cases projected to rise from 285 million in 2010 to nearly 400 million by the year 2030. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

Though medications have been developed to manage diabetes there is no therapy that can cure the disease. Long-term, the disease can cause complications affecting the eyes, heart, kidneys, and nerves.

Isaac Cann, a professor of animal sciences and microbiology at the University of Illinois, and his collaborators at Mie University School of Medicine (Japan), explain that a protein made by the human body may be key in preventing cell death in diabetes, offering new hope for those who suffer from the disease.

Diabetes has two major forms: type 1, in which the body does not produce insulin, and type 2, in which the body has too little insulin or is not able to use the insulin properly. The cause of reduced insulin in the body that is common to both types of diabetes is the death of important pancreatic beta-cells: the cells that produce and regulate insulin in the body.

A research collaboration between the U of I and Mie University Faculty and Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, shows evidence that supplementation of protein S, a plasma protein that is reduced in people with diabetes, can help minimize the effects of the disease by suppressing cell death of the beta-cells.  

"A significant problem of diabetes is the death of the beta-cells which of course, produce insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is mostly genetic, whereas type 2 is basically lifestyle-related, but the progression of diabetes is the same,” Cann explains. “We know that in each case there is apoptosis (death) of these cells that produce insulin. So this study is really looking at how to prevent this cell death. Irrespective of the type of diabetes, if protein S is actually able to prevent death of the cells that produce insulin, then of course it is going to help in both cases.

“And so by finding that this protein, which is actually made by humans, suppresses the death of these cells is really a major finding. Maybe supplementation of this particular protein can help alleviate the progression of the disease.”

Protein S is an anticoagulant factor that regulates inflammation, as well as cell destruction or cell death. Little has been known about the effect of protein S on diabetes and its related complications.

Cann and collaborators set up a study to compare the development of diabetes in mice that were overexpressing human protein S (transgenic), or were administered protein S after developing diabetes.

The researchers saw significant inhibition of beta-cell death through observed improvements in blood glucose levels, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and less severe kidney damage in the protein S mice and the mice that had been treated with protein S.

Because the level of circulating protein S is reduced in people with diabetes, the researchers were encouraged to see that supplementing protein S did have an impact.

“Our bodies are very complex. Unless there is another protein that degrades that protein S—which in that case, this sort of treatment is not going to work— we thought that perhaps boosting or administering protein S could work. We did not see degradation of protein S, at least in a mouse. If you administer it directly or increase the level, you see the good effect. So perhaps if you give it to humans, it will not be degraded and it will prevent the death of cells that make insulin,” Cann explains.

Esteban Gabazza, an immunologist and professor from Mie University, explains that death of cells that are essential for the function of organs is the cause of several diseases, one of which is diabetes. “Death of structural cells from the kidneys also causes kidney disease in people with diabetes. Therefore, based on this experimental discovery, it is possible that supplementation of protein S may prevent not only diabetes progression but also its related kidney complications.

“Because the prognosis of diabetic subjects is far worse than the healthy general population, clinical application of this new discovery will definitely change the life expectancy of many people suffering from this disease,” Gabazza says.

Though Cann says it could take some time before a treatment could be available, he adds that the study gives enough evidence to suggest that researchers should keep moving forward with protein S.

Ultimately, Cann says it is about finding a treatment that can be offered earlier to lessen the complications of diabetes.

“Basically, when you have diabetes, your body is malfunctioning. The balance in your entire physiology is thrown out of whack.  If we are able to arrest the problem from earlier stages of the progression, we can prevent the downstream effects,” he says.

Cann will continue collaborating with Gabazza (corresponding author) and colleagues at Mie University to further understand diabetes.

“We think this is just a first step for these collaborations. We will also be bringing in our knowledge of the microbiome to work on diabetes, and maybe find some new solutions,” Cann says. “Many labs are working on this, but this is a very important contribution. Hopefully this is a concept that others will go out and test.”

“Amelioration of diabetes by protein S” is published in the journal, Diabetes, and is available online at Co-authors include Taro Yasuma, Yutaka Yano, Corina N. D’Alessandro-Gabazza, Masaaki Toda, Paloma Gil-Bernabe, Tetsu Kobayashi, Kota Nishihama, Josephine A. Hinneh, Rumi Mifuji-Moroka, Ziaurahman Roeen, John Morser, Isaac Cann, Iwasa Motoh, Yoshiyuki Takei, and Esteban C. Gabazza.

This research was supported in part by a Kakenhi Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (No. 24591128 and No. 15K09170).

News Source:

Isaac Cann, 217-333-2090

New website provides information on Illinois Cottage Foods Law

Published June 1, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – Maybe your friends tell you that your bread is delicious, that your cookies melt in their mouths, or that you should be selling your baked goods.

Jenna Smith, a University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator explains that starting a business might be easier than some might think. “Illinois has a Cottage Foods Law that enables small-scale entrepreneurs to sell their products made in their own home kitchens, such as baked goods, jams and jellies, or dried herbs and teas, at their local farmers market,” she says. 

Want to know more? U of I Extension has designed a website that provides more information about Illinois’ Cottage Foods Law. Those interested can learn more about which foods can and cannot be sold, what requirements must be met to get started, and essential food safety information to keep customers safe and one’s business reputable.

Go to to learn more.

“Now is the perfect time to begin thinking about what to sell at your farmers market,” Smith says. 

For more information, contact Drusilla Banks at 815-933-8337 or; Mary Liz Wright at 217-826-5422 or; or Smith at 309-663-8306 or

CHS Foundation invests in learning space

Published June 1, 2016
group honoring new learning space in Bevier Hall
Linda Tank (fourth from right), president, CHS Foundation, celebrates the updated University of Illinois agricultural science education and leadership learning space with undergraduate and graduate students.

Whether on-campus or around the globe, students studying agricultural education at the University of Illinois will now benefit from an updated learning space. The CHS Foundation, the major giving entity of CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, provided a $150,000 gift to update the agricultural education and leadership learning space in Bevier hall.

The updated learning space features distance education technology allowing students on-and-off-campus to interact directly with each other and the course instructor. Industry representatives and school administrators are also able to connect to campus without travel expenses and time commitments. Flexible furnishings create numerous options for room configurations, broadening the opportunities in the learning space.

“The technology and updated teaching tools allow students to learn in an environment that is more reflective of the spaces they will be working in after graduation ranging from classrooms and laboratories to board rooms and conference centers,” says Erica Thieman, assistant professor in agricultural education.  “This room upgrade more closely aligns with the quality education that students in agricultural science education and leadership receive at Illinois.”  

“CHS and the CHS Foundation are proud to support University of Illinois agricultural education students,” says Linda Tank, president, CHS Foundation. “Agricultural education teachers are essential to educating the next generation of ag leaders and by using cutting-edge technology and resources while in college, they will be more effective in the classroom upon graduation.”

The University appreciates the support of CHS Foundation, Thieman added. As a part of the CHS stewardship focus, the CHS Foundation supports programs that develop future leaders for agriculture, improve agricultural safety and enhance rural vitality.  Agricultural education instructors and agricultural leadership graduates influence the next generation to pursue careers in the agriculture industry. The gift benefiting this renovation is an investment in the broader agricultural community.




Corn prices to reflect summer weather and demand strength

Published May 31, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – With the start of the critical three-month growing season, the potential size of the 2016 U.S. corn crop will become the focus of attention. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, the market will follow weather conditions, crop ratings, and weather forecasts to form yield expectations.

“The starting point for forming yield expectations is typically the calculation of a trend yield based on the level of historical yields,” says Darrel Good. “That calculation can vary depending on the time period used in making the calculation and the assumed form of the trend, linear or non-linear. We have argued that a linear trend of actual yields from 1960 forward provides the most reliable unconditional trend calculation for the current year. For 2016, that calculation is 164.4 bushels per acre.

“We have also argued that the unconditional trend yield should be adjusted upward due to the asymmetric effect of weather on actual yields. That is, poor weather tends to reduce yields more than good weather increases yields. As a result, a trend-yield calculation that assumes average summer weather conditions is likely biased downward. Our previous research indicates the downward bias is about two bushels per acre. The adjustment results in a corn trend-yield projection of 166.4 bushels for 2016,” he adds. 

Although the actual U.S. average yield since 1960 was near trend value in some years, yields always deviated from the trend and sometimes by a large margin. According to Good, over the 56-year period from 1960 through 2015, the actual U.S. average yield exceeded the unconditional trend 61 percent of the time and was below trend 39 percent of the time.

“Market participants adjust yield expectations throughout the planting and growing season,” Good says. “One of the factors that influences the direction and magnitude of early yield adjustments is the timeliness of planting, recognizing that yield potential is reduced if planting is delayed beyond the ‘sweet spot’ for obtaining maximum yields.  The timing of that sweet spot varies by region, but we have used May 20 to delineate timeliness from late planting on a national basis since 1986. Yield expectations tend to be reduced if the percentage of the crop planted late is larger than average. Although corn yields are dominated by summer weather, late planting implies that yields could have exceeded actual levels if planting had been more timely.”

Based on the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report for the 18 major producing states, Good says his team calculates that the percent of the crop planted after May 20 for the 30 years from 1986 through 2015 ranged from 4 percent in 2012 to 47 percent in 1995 and averaged 18 percent.

“Although the percent of the crop planted late in Indiana and Ohio was well above average this year, the percent of the crop planted after May 20 in the 18 major producing states this year was calculated to be 17 percent,” Good says. “This is very close to the long-term average and suggests that the expectation of a U.S. average yield near trend value should not yet be altered.”

A second factor that will be monitored to adjust yield expectations is the USDA’s weekly crop condition ratings, says Good. “Those ratings tend to be biased early in the season, with ratings tending to decline as the growing season progresses, and early ratings are not always a good forecast of final ratings. Still, the market is interested in the condition of the crop as it compares to ratings in earlier years. The USDA will release the first crop condition ratings for all 18 major producing states in today’s Crop Progress report.  Ratings will be as of the twenty-first week of the year. For the previous 30 years, condition ratings have been available for that week in 17 years. On average, 71 percent of the crop was rated in good or excellent condition for that week, in a range of 43 percent in 2002 to 79 percent in 1994,” Good says.

The size of the 2016 corn crop will also depend on the magnitude of harvested acreage.  Good says there is some expectation that planted acreage will fall short of intentions reported in the USDA's March survey due to late planting in the eastern Corn Belt and the recent large increase in soybean prices relative to corn prices. Acreage uncertainty will abound, however, until the USDA releases the Acreage report on June 30. “Part of the uncertainty about corn acreage stems from the uncertainty about the magnitude of total acreage of spring planted crops,” he says.

While the market will focus on crop size, it is important to ask how much the price of corn will actually be influenced by the size of the crop.

“We recently modeled the relationship between the marketing-year average price of corn and the year-ending stocks-to-use ratio,” Good says. “The model suggests prices tend to be relatively stable over a wide range of ending stocks-to-use ratios. That is, for a given level of consumption, the size of the crop has a relatively small impact on the marketing-year average price of corn unless the crop is small enough to reduce ending stocks to less than about 10 percent of use. Over a wide range of corn supply, the more important determinant of price is the strength of demand. In this case, demand does not refer just to the amount of corn consumed, but instead includes the price people are willing to pay. Strong demand reflects a willingness to pay a ‘high’ price for a given level of consumption and weak demand reflects a willingness to pay a ‘low’ price for that consumption.

“Corn demand has been weak for the past two years,” Good says. “The weather-reduced Brazilian corn harvest has recently provided some demand strength for U.S. corn and a modest price rally. As indicated last week, summer weather could provide additional price strength, at least temporarily. Stronger demand, in the form of more robust economic growth and higher livestock prices, would provide for a more permanent price increase.”





Global service opportunities in Sierra Leone

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, Illinois

You are invited to join campus and community members on Monday, June 20, 2016 beginning at 5pm at the University of Illinois YMCA to learn more about global service opportunities in Sierra Leone.

The University of Illinois YMCA is hosting Christian Kamara, the CEO/National Secretary of the YMCA of Sierra Leone, Mr. Kamara will share about the work they do in Sierra Leone and the U of I YMCA will discuss and explore possible collaborations. The event takes place at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, Illinois and is free and open to the public.

Click here to RSVP:

The YMCA of the University of Illinois is currently in the process of establishing a partnership with the YMCA of Sierra Leone that focuses on a mutually-beneficial international service-learning exchange program that aligns with the University YMCA’s mission. Today, with a growing number of college students pursuing international service-learning experiences as part of their education, the Sierra Leone YMCA partnership aims to give youth in Sierra Leone and in Illinois the tools to develop into culturally competent leaders in global service. The exploration of this partnership stems from the University Y's partnership with the University of Illinois Global Health Initiative in Sierra Leone, with the aim of developing more cause-driven leadership opportunities to youth throughout Sierra Leone and at the University of Illinois.

Serving 23 communities across the country, the YMCA of Sierra Leone’s programs promote youth and young adult development in the areas of civic education, community health, human rights, prison justice, job training, and agricultural development. The heart of the Y's youth education efforts lies in developing cause-driven leadership, serving low-income communities and advocating for social change. To learn more about the work of the YMCA of Sierra Leone, visit:

To learn more about the Sierra Leone Partnership, please visit: or contact Megan Flowers,, 217-337-1500 or La Linea,, 217-337-1533.



All Day Event
General Lounge (Room 210), Illini Union

2016 Ralph and Ruth Fisher Forum



June 17-18, 2016

General Lounge (Room 210), Illini Union
(1401 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801)

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Organized by: Cynthia Buckley (Professor of Sociology) and Paul McNamara (Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics)

For more information click here.