Around the County Frequent information updates for agricultural audiences Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Managing Prevented-Planting Fields Wed, 19 Jun 2019 09:16:00 +0000 by Emerson Nafziger

With a lot of acres of corn and soybeans still unplanted as we move into the second half of June, prevented planting (PP) is unfortunately going to be a major part of the story of the 2019 cropping season in Illinois. Here we'll look at goals and options for managing acres on which the intended crop—corn or soybean—does not get planted.

The main goals of managing PP acres will be: 1) providing a vegetative cover in order to keep the soil in place and to prevent "fallow syndrome"; 2) to prevent or manage weeds so they don't reseed the field; and 3) to take up nitrogen, including that from any N-containing fertilizer (including DAP/MAP), and any N that will be released from soil organic matter during the growing season. We also need to find ways to keep costs down, given that the PP insurance payments leavelittle room for adding expenses to these acres. This may not be the best time to invest in expensive cover crop seeding mixes. With high demand this year, such seed—and seed of some less exotic cover crops as well—will be expensive, and some may not be available.

We have not seen "fallow syndrome" very often in Illinois, but there was some in 1994 in fields that were flooded for most of the season in 1993 and did not produce crops or even weeds that year. The symptoms include stunting and purpling that indicate phosphorus deficiency. Plants growing in fields host a type of beneficial fungus (VA mycorrhiza) that assists in the uptake of P; these fungi seem to die off when there aren't any plants, and they come back slowly the next year. We don't expect to see this in every field, and it's more likely to show up where water stood for a long period of time this year. The best prevention is to have plants present sometime during this season to help maintain these fungi. Just about any plant with roots will work, including weeds, but a cover crop species we choose to plant will be preferable to weeds.

Having plants present to take up N is more to keep the N from leaving the field this year than it is to make it available for next year's crop;it's not clear how much N captured in crop biomass this season will become available to next year's crop. But mineralization takes place in every field once soils are aerated, regardless of whether the previous crop was corn or soybean. Grasses with deep roots are the best way extract N from deeper in the soil, and to keep this N out of tile drainage water.

We won't try to reiterate here the complex rules regarding PP certification, but will only deal with managing these fields to provide cover. It appears that any species will work as cover, as long as the rules regarding what's done with the cover after the season are followed. That means no harvest of grain (or silage) at all, and harvest by grazing or by making hay only after November 1. Every decision on what to plant should be tested with your crop insurance agent beforehand.

PP corn

Where corn was the intended crop in 2019 and soybean is planned for 2020, using a small grain as a cover crop this summer is an option. Winterhardy cereal rye and wheat won't form heads until after a period of temperatures in the 30s, so probably not until next spring. They should emerge and provide quick cover, but these are cool-season crops, and when they remain low-growing and don't send up stems with heads, they likely won't stay very healthy or grow vigorously through a normal summer season.

Spring oats or spring wheat might do a little better than winterhardy wheat or rye. These tend not to tiller much at high temperature, but they will set seed. It can't be harvested as grain; check the rules on whether it can simply be left to have the seed shatter out in the fall once it's ripe. That may reseed the cover crop, but these plants won't survive the winter. None of these are likely to grow roots as deep as when they grow in cool weather, but they should provide decent cover. With the 2019 oats crop in Illinois planted late and not exactly thriving, it will be difficult to find seed locally. Spring wheat seed will have to come from states north and west of Illinois.

Grain from a bin or an elevator, including from this year's harvest, might work as seed for small grains, since this is not a "crop" in the usual sense. With wet weather this spring, we anticipate that some harvested grain will have diseased kernels that lower its market price, which may provide an incentive for using it as cover crop seed. Test germination, and if germination is low, increase the seeding rate to plant about at least 15 viable seeds per square foot, using a drill. While drilling will usually produce better stands and require less seed, broadcasting 20-25 live seeds per square foot might work. Shallow tillage with a vertical-tillage implement before or after broadcast seeding will probably improve stands.

Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghum produce a lot of residue and are good at taking up soil N. These species grow well in high temperatures, and they tolerate dry soils. If they won't be grazed (after November 1), it's probably better to limit their growth to lower the amount of residue present next spring. Lack of adequate N will limit growth in most fields, and delaying planting until mid-July or so can also help. If there is still a lot of growth, plants can be mowed in September so the residue can start to break down this fall. Some sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are male-sterile, and these species don't produce much seed in any case. There is no danger of having plants of these species overwinter.

In fields that haven't had herbicides applied that would prevent their growth, species such as radish, turnip, rapeseed, buckwheat, and forage grasses and legumes could be used on PP corn acres. None of these will be as effective as a well-rooted grass crop at taking up N, and those that grow slowly after emergence will generally not provide good cover early, and they won't compete with weeds very well. Their seed tends to be expensive, and those with very small seed (such as clovers) can be difficult to establish in mid-summer without specialized equipment.

It may be possible to plant corn on PP corn acres, as long as care is taken not to produce corn grain. Ways to assure this include planting it later than July 15, drilling or planting it in rows no more than 15 inches apart, and planting at least 70,000-80,000 seeds (roughly a bushel) per acre. Lack of N will also help keep seeds from forming or filling, as will very late (September) pollination, which should mean failure of the crop to mature. Some seed companies may offer treated seed that they won't be keeping over at a price low enough to make this an option. It may also be possible to take seed out of a bin of non-GMO corn grain to use for this. Make sure such seed will germinate, and check to make sure the planter is dropping enough seeds. By the time frost kills them, corn plants should not have formed seed that is mature enough to germinate the next spring. If grain begins to form and seeds begin to fill despite these measures, the corn can be mowed with a stalk chopper to prevent formation of viable seeds.

Soybean PP

Management of PP soybean acres has the same goals as those for PP corn acres, but management changes some if these fields will go back to corn again in 2020. Undisturbed corn stalks have by now broken down to some extent, but they still provide some cover, and keeping some of the stalk material on the soil surface will help preserve moisture and to keep soil in place as a cover crop gets started. The presence of high-C residue from the previous corn crop means that there will be less net mineralization in these acres because some mineralized N will be tied up as microbes break down residues. Even so, good root growth from a cover crop will help to take up N and to keep it from leaving the field.

It is possible to use the growing season that remains in 2019 to produce a leguminous crop that can fix N to supplement the N supply for next year's corn crop. Such a crop should provide good early growth in order to take up N present as the over crop is getting established. Clovers are small-seeded forage legumes that can work, although seed costs might be high and these species may be incompatible with any herbicides that were applied before planting was prevented. Planting them into corn residue will also be challenging, although no-till drilling may work if seed can be placed well. Broadcasting into corn stalks without tillage is not likely to result in good stands. Red clover is more widely available than more exotic clovers, but supplies of all of these might be limited this year. Sweet clover has larger seed and will grow aggressively once it's established. It will usually provide more dry matter by spring, and will also be more difficult to control before planting the next crop, compared to other clovers. Hairy vetch also grows vigorously, but its seed is expensive and it may not overwinter very well; this species will work in southern Illinois but is probably not a good choice in central and northern Illinois.

Another legume that can provide fairly rapid cover and that is widely available is soybean. As with corn used as a cover crop, soybean should be planted late, in narrow rows and at a high seeding rate (80 to 90 lb of seed per acre, if germination is at least 80%), to provide fast cover and to keep seed production to a minimum. It is not clear that GMO soybean seed can be used to plant for any purpose except commercial grain production. In cases where treated soybean seed cannot be returned to the dealer, the seed company might be asked if use as cover crop seed this year is allowable. There is no other good use for this seed, and it will probably not remain viable if stored until next year.

Using bin-run non-GMO soybeans as cover crop seed for this should be possible; check with your seed dealer to make sure. Non-GMO soybeans are typically marketed as such, and so are likely to be limited in supply now, unless producers have them in their own bin. Later-maturing varieties would make more vegetative growth and be less likely to set and fill viable seeds than normal-maturing ones, but that would add the expense of finding and transporting such seed. All told, soybeans may not be as obvious a choice as they appear to be at first glance, especially if leftover seed can't be used for this purpose.

Soybeans used as cover should not be allowed to set and fill viable seed. That's both to avoid complications from planting a crop following prevented planting of the same crop, and also because the maturing crop may have more residue than desired. Mowing plants off at about stage R5 (beginning seedfill) should work to control growth and prevent seed formation while still allowing capture of some fixed N. A crimper-roller might also work. Soybean plants this size can be difficult to control with herbicides, and mechanical control that leaves the residue on or near the soil surface is probably a better option.

A small grain such as wheat or oats can also be used as a cover for PP soybean acres, although that means foregoing the fixation of nitrogen. These will probably be quite N-deficient when planted into corn stalks, and while this will limit the amount of cover they produce, they should make enough growth to provide fair cover by late fall. If winter wheat or rye is used, they should be terminated in the early spring so they don't interfere with early growth of the corn crop that follows.

If P and K fertilizers were applied in preparation for this year's crop that didn't get planted, their availability for next year's crop should not be affected as long as the soil stays in place. If MAP or DAP will be applied this fall, a green cover crop present at the time of application should take up some of the N in these P-fertilizer materials, and to preserve it from loss if application is made while soils are still warm. If P and K couldn't be applied for this year's crop, PP provides an opportunity to sample soils if needed, and to get these nutrients applied this fall. Late planting will mean late harvest of corn and soybeans this year, which will allow for timely fall work on PP acres.

Late Planting Checklist and Late/Prevented Planting Info Website Tue, 04 Jun 2019 17:36:00 +0000 With the extremely wet spring Illinois is experiencing producers are having a very difficult time getting their seed planted. As we approach the final planting dates for corn (June 5), producers will have to take into consideration many factors to make the most profitable decisions on their farm.

In response to this, the Extension Commercial Agriculture team and Extension specialists have put together a "Late Planting Checklist" for producers. We hope this checklist can provide answers to common questions producers may have.

In addition, we have compiled all late/prevented planting information from the Bulletin and FarmDoc to give producers all of this information in one spot. The webpage where this information can be found is:

Please contact your local Extension office if you have questions or need assistance!

University of Illinois Extension poised to offer flood recovery and mitigation resources Tue, 14 May 2019 11:18:00 +0000

Floodwaters continue to rise across much of Illinois, with 34 counties currently under a disaster proclamation designated by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Significant rain and snowfall in April combined with saturated soils have led to widespread flooding, including areas that don't typically deal with flooding of this magnitude.

With the Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers at flood stage at multiple points along each river, and the Wabash, Fox, LaMoine, Kaskaskia, Des Plaines, and Big Muddy rivers under active monitoring, many Illinois residents, business owners, and communities are preparing to deal with the aftermath of historic floodwater levels. While many resources exist to support community and economic recovery, it's often challenging for those impacted to know where to begin.

"Information gathering is a critical skill set during and after a crisis," says Shelly Nickols-Richardson, associate dean and director of University of Illinois Extension. "We know that these skills can help or hinder how quickly individuals and families can recover from disasters, which has a direct impact on how quickly communities recover. We believe that one of the great strengths of the Illinois Extension system is our ability to gather, vet, sort, and share relevant resources during a crisis."

There are four stages of the disaster cycle: (1) preparedness, (2) response, (3) recovery, and (4) mitigation. Over the next several weeks, most Illinois residents impacted by the current flooding will enter the recovery phase, where they start to ask questions about returning to their homes, businesses, and community spaces. Whether the impacted area is rural or urban, it is important to understand that the danger doesn't completely diminish simply because the floodwaters have receded.

The cascading effects of natural disasters have far-reaching impacts. Beyond being forced out of their homes and communities, residents also contend with a myriad of other logistical challenges. From food access to SNAP-Ed benefits, and from water quality to sanitation issues for people and animals, impacted communities are ground zero for tough questions.

According to Carrie McKillip, community and economic development educator for Illinois Extension, in the aftermath of a crisis, agencies play a dual role of providing information and services to those directly impacted by the event, while also simultaneously gathering data to mitigate future disasters.

"In many of our more rural counties, it's not uncommon for Extension to be the only agency with an active, ongoing presence outside of a crisis response," McKillip says. "Our network can and should be leveraged to provide more efficient access and communication to those individuals and families who are directly impacted. Whether we're talking about disseminating Extension resources or those from other aid organizations, our network plays a crucial role."

Extension resources exist to support almost all phases of the disaster cycle, but McKillip says that Extension leadership is interested in delving more deeply into supporting recovery and mitigation efforts. Currently, Illinois is taking part in a multi-state pilot project to create voluntary associations of community groups who stand ready to assist when disaster is imminent. The goal of Community Organizations Active in Disaster, or COADs, is twofold: (1) to alleviate pressure on first responders, and (2) to mobilize agencies and groups that can help from off-site during a crisis.

According to McKillip, it's not uncommon for municipal leaders to be caught unprepared to manage a local response to a natural disaster because it's often not articulated as part of the responsibilities of their role. Through the work of COADs, elected officials and municipal leaders benefit from the stability of an entrenched, hyperlocal network of professionals who are trained to understand the depth and breadth of disaster mitigation and recovery.

Illinois Extension is also rolling out other innovative programs to help prepare families and communities for disaster response. In 2017, Illinois began training teenagers about how to respond in a crisis. Known asMy PI (Preparedness Initiative) Illinois, youth can become certified through a training program developed by FEMA, American Red Cross, and the U.S. Department of Education that explores critical topics like disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, and terrorism. The program is currently only available in select Illinois communities, but is expected to expand over the coming year.

For agencies and professionals who are working with residents and community leaders during the height of the crisis, Illinois Extension offers a few insights.

  • People and families displaced by the current flood should contact local emergency management personnel. These groups are best positioned to help during the disaster and in its immediate aftermath.
  • Make a plan for cleaning up homes and businesses once flooding recedes. Floodwaters will have dispersed a wide range of unsanitary and toxic materials and residents are strongly encouraged to consult a professional before beginning cleanup efforts in order to minimize any potential health or safety impacts.
  • Check with local donation centers to support daily living right now. While individual insurance policies are likely to provide good long-term recovery resources, immediate needs can often be met through local donation centers and aid agencies.
  • Illinois Extension is local in every county in Illinois, making Extension educators and community workers a great clearinghouse for information. For those who are struggling to understand how to begin the recovery process, contact the local Extension office in your county.
  • Begin planning for how this crisis will impact your family's personal finances. Consult the Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit for resources that will guide you through a systematic process for protecting your family's financial health.

Even though damages can't be assessed until the water has receded, it's clear that spring 2019 flooding across Illinois will make the record books. As important as it is to help families and communities navigate the recovery process, it is equally critical to capture and catalogue the lessons learned in order to develop measures to mitigate the impact of future disaster events.

"Illinois Extension is committed to developing and disseminating resources that help our communities prepare for and recover from disasters," says Nickols-Richardson. "Extension's strength lies in providing reliable, trustworthy information about best practices for recovery and mitigation."

University of Illinois Extension is in theCollege of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental SciencesU of I.

Source: Carrie McKillip, 309-342-5108,

News writer: Samantha Koon, 217-898-3509,

Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought Wed, 01 May 2019 14:47:00 +0000

News Source: by Lois Yoksoulian |Physical Sciences Editor |217-244-2788

Recent flooding in the Midwest has brought attention to the complex agricultural problems associated with too much rain. Data from the past three decades suggest that excessive rainfall can affect crop yield as much as excessive heat and drought. In a new study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois linked crop insurance, climate, soil and corn yield data from 1981 through 2016.

The study found that during some years, excessive rainfall reduced U.S. corn yield by as much as 34% relative to the expected yield. Data suggest that drought and excessive heat caused a yield loss of up to 37% during some years. The findings are published in the journal Global Change Biology.

"We linked county-level U.S. Department of Agriculture insurance data for corn loss with historical weather data, letting us quantify the impact of excessive rainfall on yield loss at a continental scale," said Kaiyu Guan, a natural resources and environmental sciencesprofessor and the study's principal investigator. "This was done using crop insurance indemnity data paired with rigorous statistical analysis – not modeled simulations – which let the numbers speak for themselves."

The study found that the impact of excessive rainfall varies regionally.

"Heavy rainfall can decrease corn yield more in cooler areas and the effect is exacerbated even further in areas that have poor drainage," said Yan Li, a former U. of I. postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study.

Excessive rainfall can affect crop productivity in various ways, including direct physical damage, delayed planting and harvesting, restricted root growth, oxygen deficiency and nutrient loss, the researchers said.

"It is challenging to simulate the effects of excessive rainfall because of the vast amount of seemingly minor details," Li said. "It is difficult to create a model based on the processes that occur after heavy rainfall – poor drainage due to small surface features, water table depth and various soil properties can lead to ponding of water in a crop field. Even though the ponding may take place over a small area, it could have a large effect on crop damage."

"This study shows that we have a lot of work to do to improve our models," said Evan DeLucia, the director of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment, a professor of integrative biology and study co-author. "While drought and heat stress have been well dealt with in the existing models, excessive rainfall impacts on crop system are much less mature."

Many climate change models predict that the U.S. Corn Belt region will continue to experience more intense rainfall events in the spring. Because of this, the researchers feel that it is urgent for the government and farmers to design better risk management plans to deal with the predicted climate scenarios.

"As rainfall becomes more extreme, crop insurance needs to evolve to better meet planting challenges faced by farmers," said Gary Schnitkey, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics and study co-author.

The USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy supported this study.

To reach Kaiyu Guan, call 217-300-2690;

The paper "Excessive rainfall leads to maize yield loss of a comparable magnitude to extreme drought in the United States" is available online at and from the U. of I. News Bureau. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14628.

Annual Soil Fertility Program Coming February 28 (CEU credits available) Wed, 30 Jan 2019 11:13:00 +0000 This webinar will be hosted in the U of I Extension Offices in Logan County (Lincoln, IL). Presentations will be delivered via PowerPoint and web conferencing from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and lunch will be provided.

"Those in attendance will hear about the latest University of Illinois research on the long term effects of crop rotation and tillage, as well as the relationship between cover crops and soil nitrogen availability. Other presenters from the University of Wisconsin, Western Illinois University, and the Illinois SWCD will discuss nutrient loss on tile drained land, nutrient management in organic systems, and a farmer-led program to improve soil health," says Jesse Soule, U of I Extension educator.

Presentations include:

·Managing Phosphorus Loss in Tile Systems, Aaron Pape, University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms, Tile Drainage Education Coordinator

·Cover Crops and Soil N Availability in Corn & Soybean Systems, Lowell Gentry, University of Illinois, Principal Research Specialist in Agriculture

·Long term Crop Rotation and Tillage Effects on Soil GHG Emissions and Crop Production in Illinois, Gevan Behnke, University of Illinois, Senior Research Specialist

·S.T.A.R. A Farmer-Led Program to Reduce Nutrient and Soil Losses and Improve Soil Health, Bruce Henrikson, Champaign SWCD, Special Projects Coordinator

·Understanding and Extending Organic Nutrient Management Concepts, Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University, Associate Professor of Soil Science & Sustainable Agriculture

Those planning to attend are asked to register by Tuesday, February 26. Registration can completed online at: or by calling the Logan County Extension office at 217-732-8289.

2019 Certified Livestock Manager Training Workshops Coming to Springfield Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:00:00 +0000 On-line registration NOW open at:
The 2019 Certified Livestock Manager Training workshops, will be held in 11 locations throughout the state, beginning Jan. 30 in Springfield and concluding Feb. 28 back in Springfield. The University of Illinois Extension workshops provide Illinois livestock producers the manure management training they need to meet the requirements of the state's Livestock Management Facilities Act.

The Livestock Management Facilities Act requires facilities with 300 or more animal units to have at least one employee certified in proper manure handling procedures.For facilities with 300 to 999 animal units, at least one employee must attend a workshoporpass the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Certified Livestock Manager exam.Employees of facilities with 1,000 or more animal units must do both to achieve certification.

Please note that all workshops begin at 9 a.m. with the exception of the Jan. 30 training at the Illinois Pork Expo which will start at 12:30 p.m. All trainings will take 3 1/2 hours with the IDOA exam administered after the training.

2019 Workshop dates and locations are as follows:

January 30 - (starts at 12:30 p.m., pre-register to receive free box lunch); Bank of Springfield Center, 1 Convention Center Plaza, Springfield

January 31- U of I Extension-Effingham County, 1209 North Wenthe Drive, Effingham

February 5 - The Holiday Motel and Restaurant, 1300 S West St, Olney

February 6 - U of I Extension-Franklin County, 1212 Route 14 West, Benton

February 7 - Paul's United Church of Christ, 330 N Buhrman, Nashville

February 12- U of I Extension/Pike County Farm Bureau Bldg, 1301 E Washington, Pittsfield

February 13 - U of I Extension-Clinton County, 1163 North 4th Street, Breese

February 19 - Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau, 1000 N Main St., Monmouth

February 20- Stephenson County Farm Bureau Bldg, 210 W. Spring St, Freeport

February 21- DeKalb County Farm Bureau Bldg, 1350 W. Prairie Drive, Sycamore

February 28 - Illinois Department of Ag Bldg. Auditorium, State Fairgrounds, Springfield

Each workshop will offer a general curriculum designed to keep producers current on the latest industry practices. The curriculum covers the basics of nutrient management as well as new technologies, research, and trends, so producers who have completed the training and are renewing their certification will benefit.

Producers are encouraged to preregister at least two weeks prior to ensure a seat for the session that fits their schedule. To register, call 217-244-9687 or register online at The cost is $35. If more than one employee from the same farm signs up, each additional registration will cost $25. Lunch will not be offered, but coffee and snacks will be provided. However, a box lunch will be provided by Illinois Pork Producers for producers that pre-register be the January 30 workshop at the Illinois Pork Expo.)

The current training manual used for Certified Livestock Manager Training is the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Curriculum. This curriculum is available for free online at If you have a manual or CD that is older than 2003, you should check the website for information for update options. IDOA CLM Exam questions are taken directly from this manual. Some of this curriculum will be covered during the workshops. However, it is impossible to cover all of the exam material in one workshop, so acquiring and reviewing the manual in advance is highly recommended.

Please visit the Certified Livestock Managers Training webpage at for more information about registration, manuals, online training options, and other resources.

Producers and employees also have the option of taking five online quizzes.Passing these is the equivalent of having attended a workshop, but does not substitute for passing the state administered Certified Livestock Manager exam. Registration is open for the CLM Online Training Program at There is no charge to take the online quizzes other than the cost of a manual.

Source: Richard Gates, 217-244-2791,
News writer: Stephanie Henry, 217-244-1183,
Precautions for Dicamba Use in Xtend Soybeans Wed, 21 Nov 2018 15:59:00 +0000 Wondering how to manage dicamba in dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2019? Find out what four Extension and university weed specialists, Aaron Hager with the University of Illinois, Bill Johnson and Joe Ikley with Purdue University, and Mark Loux at The Ohio State University, are recommending regarding dicamba. They just released a bulletin with five additional suggestions to reduce off-site movement of dicamba. This is in response to the EPA's label for dicamba use that was released in October.

In addition to the eight label restrictions the EPA detailed in its updated label for dicamba use, the bulletin provides five additional recommendations, citing, "one can do everything "per the label" but still have offsite movement."

Their full recommendations can be found here: