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Acres of Knowledge

All issues concerning Small Farms, Agriculture, Local Food Systems, and the Natural Resources.
Farm management
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Cutting Crop Costs, Not Profits

According to university farm economists across the Midwest, 2019 is the year where farmers need to scrutinize their crop expenses, and see where they can cut costs to improve their net return per acre. Currently, the projected fall prices for corn and soybeans are mid-$3's and mid-$8's, respectively, is very close to the cost of production. In order to achieve profitability, production costs wi...

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Prices-New Corn
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New, New Era of Grain Prices

I recently attended one of the 2018 Farm Economic Summit meeting and heard a presentation given by Dr. Scott Irwin, Dept. of Agricultural & Consumer Economics at University of Illinois. In this talk, we were shown the similarities between the price trends of the past 70 years....

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Bag Grain Storage

Tips for Temporary Corn Storage in Grain (Silo) Bags

A lot of this year's harvested corn is going into big grain bags on the ground for temporary storage till more permanent storage is available. Here are some helpful tips from Dr. Klein Ileleji at Purdue University on how to manage grain stored in the field in grain storage bags. Locate the bags on firm, well-drained ground that is smooth and level, that has plenty of roo...

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MFC PaymentRate

Market Facilitation Program: Impacts and Initial Analysis

This is the title of an article authored by agricultural economists from the University of Illinois and the Ohio State University. The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) is an effort by the USDA to provide aid to farmers because of trade disputes with our major foreign grain buyers. It has been estimated that the escalating trade issues in the May to August 2018 period have led to an 11 percent...

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2019 Cash Rent Trends

What about a Flexible Cash Rent Lease

It must be August, because my office phone has been lighting up with calls from farmland owners wanting to know about the direction of cash rent values for lands here in east-central Illinois. This is never easy to answer, because no one can accurately forecast the future. Currently at this moment with the projected above average harvest of field corn and soybean, and the continuing trade dispu...

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Interest Rates and Cropland Land Values

In a recent article in University of Illinois Farmdoc Daily, a group of University of Illinois agricultural economists along with a colleague from the Ohio State University looked into the factors that play a role in explaining price movement in cropland prices. In summarizing the results of their research, the group pointed out that "...

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Soil Organisms-Teaspoon healthy Soil-NRCS
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What is Soil Health?

In agriculture, we heart a the term "soil health", which has been used for about five years, now. Yet what does it mean. the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) defines soil health as "the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem t...

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Operator-Land Returns-Paulson
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Habits of the Most Profitable Central Illinois Farmers

At the recent Illinois Farm Economic Summit (IFES) meetings, Drs. Nick Paulson and Dale Lattz of the farmdoc team shared the results of two studies that highlighted the differences in profitability between the top third and bottom third of farms in Illinois and the typical management practice...

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DroughtMonitor-20170912 IL
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Crops, Weather and Low Prices

2017 has provided this part of Illinois with another "interesting" growing season. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map from the USDA and NOAA, a portion of central Illinois stretching from southern Champaign County through parts of DeWitt, Piatt, Logan, Sangamon, Cass and Morgan to the Illinois River is in a "Moderate Drought". This has led to a story of two different growing condi...

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ILL NetFarmIncome
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2017 Cash Rent Projections

It is the time of the year when farmers and farmland owners begin the process of renegotiating cash rent leases for the next growing season. In Illinois, about 75% of all farmland is owned by non-farming land owners, and nearly 2/3's of those acres are cash rented in some form. This results in approximately half of all Illinois farmland being cash rented. A lot of factors will ultimately deter...

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Cover Crops-C S-112216L
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What Late Cover Crops Can Do?

Since 2011, I have been planting cover crops and I have grown different types: spring oats and radish; cereal rye; and cereal rye with rapeseed. I like cereal rye and we grow 250+ bushel per acre corn after cereal rye. It can be done. Why do I like Cereal Rye? In an effort to keep my costs as low as possible, my cover crops are planted after corn and soybean harvest in October and depen...

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Moths Are Flying, Farmers Beware

The 2017 Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program has started and cooperators are reporting high captures of Black Cutworm moths and True Armyworm moths in their pheromone traps. Recent articles in the Purdue University Pest & Crop Newsletter have high...

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Weed Height

Amaranth Has Defeated Two Herbicide Groups

If farming was baseball and Team Herbicides was at bat against the weed Team of Amaranths, then right now, there are two strikes against Herbicides. A new report from the University of Illinois Plant Clinic bears this out. This has weed scientists across the Midwest very concerned and it should have Illinois farmers and farmland owners concerned. In a U of I Bulletin post, the Plant Cli...

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WPS-New Rules

New Worker Protection Standard Rules In Effect

The Worker Protection Standards (WPS) established specific requirements for employers to follow in order to reduce the potential for worker exposure to pesticides. New revisions to these standards went into effect January 2, 2017. They will give farm workers health protections similar to those that are already afforded to workers in other industries. There is a new training requirem...

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IL Soy Conditions-090716
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Pay Attention to Lodged Soybean Fields

The soybean crop in our area is tall and full of pods. Statewide the weekly USDA NASS soybean progress report is showing one of the best looking crops in the past 20 years with 79% of the Illinois' soybean crop in the Good or Excellent category....

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Top Death-LoRes
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Top Dieback or Top Leaf Death in Some Area Corn Fields

Recently I have been noticing a growing number of local corn fields are showing "top dieback" or the death of the top leaf (or leaves) of the corn plant. This can happen due to several causes. The cause that is worrying me and that I am noticing is a few scattered fields caused by Anthracnose. If the corn field is showing leaf death at both the top and bottom, this can be the typical dr...

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Field Happenings - May 25

Out in local fields, this week. If you are growing wheat this year and applied foliar fungicides to protect the flag leaf, then you did the right thing. The cool, wet start to May was a great environment for leaf diseases and the diseases are evident in local wheat fields.  In the attached...

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Farmers Might Face Tough Nutrient Management Rules

Today, I learned about the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the USEPA plan to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past year, I have heard numerous speakers tell me that Illinois agriculture needs to follow the voluntary Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) otherwise we will have regulations like the Chesapeake Bay. Also, I have heard numerous farm...

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Deep Soil Compaction - Is It Your Yield Thief?

Have you noticed that your field is not draining as fast as it did a decade ago? Do your yields vary greatly between a "dry" year and a "normal" one? Have you checked your soil for deep soil compaction or subsoil compaction? Compaction that is deeper than 8 inches. The use of heavier equipment, multiple field operations, operating in less than ideal conditions due to time constrictions,...

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Check Your Fields for Stalk Quality

From my recent visits to local corn fields, I have been surprised by the rapid decline in this year's crop quality. In a sampling of corn fields in an area that has not received the flooding rains that others have. 20-100 percent of the stalks FAILED the "push" strength test. As you might expect, this is not good at all. In the last week, a number of corn belt universities have recommen...

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Corn Prices Fade

This is the title of an article written by Darrell Good , Dept of Ag and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois. In the article, Dr. Good points out that corn prices rose 90 cents for mid-June to Mid-July on...

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Grain Prices Being Felt in Land Prices

Two recent articles on the subject of farmland prices and rental rates showed the effect that lower grain prices can have on farmland values. In a recent farmdoc DAILY article, University of Illinois Extension economist, Dr. Gary Schn...

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Small Flock Farmers - Be Alert For Avian Flu

In the past ten days, the number of Avian Influenza infected flocks in the Midwest has increased dramatically. No Avian Influenza has been confirmed in Illinois, but it has been confirmed in the bordering states of Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin. This disease does not affect human health but can be deadly to domestic chickens and turkeys. According the USDA, “there have been severa...

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It’s a Busy Time for Decisions

We have a number of important deadlines approaching for most of us in farming. Our deadline for choosing our risk management or crop insurance plans is on March 15. By the end of March, we have to decide whether to reallocate our farms’ program base acres; whether to update our program crop yields for the 2014 Farm Bill and choose one of the 2014 Farm Bill program elections. Having just...

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Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy

On November 25, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released for public comment the long awaited “Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy”. With its release, Illinois joins nine other states in the Mississippi River basin that are developing nutrient reduction loss strategies in an effort to reduce the size of the hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico. This year, the hypoxic ar...

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