May 26, 2017

Adjusting Nitrogen for this Corn Crop

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Despite the wet weather many think may be causing nitrogen fertilizer to get away from corn plants, it is still far too early to make that decision.

While it seems likely some nitrogen fertilizer has moved out of the upper soil as a result of rainfall this year University of Illinois Agronomist Emerson Nafziger says if soils dry out, the torrential rains stop, the sun shines, and the weather gets warmer things should be all good, “The crop is going to tell us this. If by the middle of June some of the crop has really greened up nicely and some has not, then we might need to think about those that haven’t and determine if enough nitrogen is missing to cause this to take place. My suspicion is we will not see very much of that at all. If we are warm and dry and with sunshine for a week, I think the crop is going to look good in almost every field.”

My suspicion is we will not see very much of that at all. If we are warm and dry and with sunshine for a week, I think the crop is going to look good in almost every field. - Emerson Nafziger

One indication the topsoil hasn’t been stripped clean of nitrogen is the good recovery of green leaf color. Nafziger says, as soils dry out, root systems start to expand and the color will change. He explains the corn crop at this point looks like it does not because of lack of N, but due to cool temperatures and abundant rainfall. While it is premature to revise nitrogen management based on what has happened so far, Nafziger cautions it cannot be ruled out, “I would be very reluctant now to make a decision that we need to go put more nitrogen on, especially if we’ve already put the full amount on. If we still need to side-dress and we add 10, or 15, or 20 pounds I don’t have a problem with that. But I think it is premature to decide so much of the nitrogen is gone that we put out there that we need to go back and plan to put more on at this point.”

The good news is there is still time to make such decisions. The corn crop takes up barely one pound of N per acre for every inch of growth it makes up to about knee-high.

Nitrogen deficiency develops over time, and Nafziger says it is almost always more related to current soil moisture than to the amount nitrogen in the soil. So, if fields aren’t extra wet or extra dry over the next month, this season could still turn out to be much more typical than many now expect.


May 24, 2017

Trump’s Proposed Cut to SNAP & Food Insecurity

The White House has released a new budget proposal, and it’s not good news for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan, commonly known as food stamps or Link in Illinois. The plan calls for a $193 billion, or 25 percent, cut to the program that currently serves 42 million Americans. Craig Gundersen, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, has been studying SNAP and its effects on food insecurity for years.

“SNAP is a great program. It is the key component of the social safety net against food insecurity,” Gundersen says.

Given the success of SNAP, Gundersen emphasizes that efforts to cut the size of the program will lead to dramatic increases in food insecurity.

Food insecurity and SNAP were the topics of a recent podcast and Twitter chat with Gundersen.

According to Gundersen, food insecurity is a major contributor to negative health outcomes in the United States. These range from depression and malnutrition to behavioral problems for children in school. Given this, it is not surprising that food insecurity also leads to substantially higher health care costs. “Because SNAP leads to greater food security, the program also brings down health care costs,” he says.

Overall, Gundersen says he can’t think of a more successful government program than SNAP. The research indicates that the program is associated with higher nutrient intake, reductions in poverty, and reductions in infant mortality. But it does more than that.

“One of the key advantages to SNAP is that it gives dignity to recipients,” he says. “They can purchase what they think is best for their families. Restricting that is demeaning and stigmatizing to poor people.”


May 24, 2017

Trump Administration Budget Sets Farm Bill Guide Posts

This week the Trump Administration released its FY18 budget. It includes harsh cuts to agricultural entitlement programs. Todd Gleason discusses the plan with University of Illinois Agricultural Policy Specialist Jonathan Coppess.


May 22, 2017

Crop Progress & June Acreage Could be Really Bearish

There is a rule of thumb for marketing that says "Consider the crop year normal until that is no longer the case." The May 22nd USDA Weekly Crop Progress report - despite the rainy weather - tells us the nation's farmers are on pace this season. They've planted 84% of the corn crop and 53% of the soybeans. For University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Todd Hubbs this suggests, at a minimum, farmers need to really think about making new crop soybean sales prior to the USDA's June 30th Acreage Report. Hubbs writes about commodity prices each week for the University of Illinois. Those articles are posted to the farmdocDaily website each Monday.


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