May 05, 2017

Areas of Above & Below Trend Yields in the Corn-Belt

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Farmers in Illinois and other parts of the eastern corn belt have had above average yields over the last several years. Gary Schnitkey wondered if this was due to the weather or some other reason. He explored the topic and came to three conclusions.



First, yield expectations in the current year likely are more heavily influenced by more recent experience. In those areas where yields have been high, it may be tempting to building financial budgets and expectations on relatively high yields. Doing so could result in higher projections of incomes than are warranted. Farmers in Illinois and other recent high yielding areas should be cautious about building in high yield expectations.

Second, the comparison of above average yields in Illinois and near average yields in Iowa is instructive in understanding whether high yields are caused by technological change. The high yields in Illinois in recent years likely are not a result of technological changes. If technological change was causing the yield differences, Iowa would have had above trend yields as well as Illinois. Rather, high Illinois’ yields likely are the result of good growing conditions. Over time, areas with good growing conditions will move around the greater Corn Belt, as has happened in the past.



Third, the above yield maps likely are indicative of relative financial performance since 2012. Overall, incomes have been lower since 2012. However, farmers in Illinois and other higher yielding areas likely have fared better than farmers in Iowa and other regions with near average yields. Again, weather variations can change from year-to-year, so areas with higher and lower yields will change over time.


April 26, 2017

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Agriculture




EXECUTIVE ORDER

- - - - - - -

PROMOTING AGRICULTURE AND RURAL PROSPERITY IN AMERICA

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that affects agriculture and rural communities, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  A reliable, safe, and affordable food, fiber, and forestry supply is critical to America's national security, stability, and prosperity.  It is in the national interest to promote American agriculture and protect the rural communities where food, fiber, forestry, and many of our renewable fuels are cultivated.  It is further in the national interest to ensure that regulatory burdens do not unnecessarily encumber agricultural production, harm rural communities, constrain economic growth,  

...read more.


April 26, 2017

Tracking Black Cut Worm Moth Flights in Illinois | with Kelly Estes

Todd Gleason talks with Illinois Natural History Survey Entomologist Kelly Estes about insect pests of corn in the state.

University of Illinois Crop Sciences Field Crops Pest Guide

Black cutworm moths ride the southerly winds into the state of Illinois and then lay their eggs in cornfields. The hatched larvae then feed on the stem of seedling corn plants. The eat all the way through it, cutting it off. That's why it is important to monitor black cutworm moth flights into the state using traps says entomologist Kelly Estes from the Illinois Natural History Survey, "We've had reports of significant moth flights, which is more than eight moths (captured) over the course of a two-day span. We use this to set a biofix. From this bio-fix, we can use degree days to predict when black cutworm larvae will be in an area and large enough to cut those plants like you described earlier." 

One cutworm can feed on as many as four corn plants - up to 15 inches in height - over its lifetime. They feed at night and burrow into the ground during the daylight hours. Conditions that favor black cutworm outbreaks include later tillage and planting dates, reduced or no-till fields, and or fields were large weed populations exist or were controlled late. 

Damage is likely to occur when weed hosts are destroyed and larvae begin feeding on corn. Small larvae feed on plant leaves. Early cutworm feeding can be identified as small irregular holes in the leaves of corn plants. The larvae feed above ground for about the first quarter of their lives, or until they are approximately half an inch long.



Estes is now projected the earliest cutworm feeding will start May 9th in Madison County. That's near St. Louis. Her projections move north from there with the passage of time. Illinois farmers should begin to scout corn fields for black cutworm larvae now. They'll need to scout five locations in each field, looking at about 250 plants total. The cutworm is black to gray and about an inch and half long when fully grown and looks a little greasy. A post-emergence rescue treatment is needed when 3% of the plants are cut, and larvae are still present.


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