Northern Illinois Agriculture University of Illinois Extension Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Northern Illinois Crop Management Conference Thu, 07 Jan 2016 07:50:00 +0000 Registration is open for the 2016 Northern Illinois Crop Management Conference. The one-day conference will take place on February 10th at the Kishwaukee College Conference Center. The program will provide a forum for discussion and interaction between participants and university researchers and has been designed to address a wide array of topics pertinent to crop production in Illinois: crop management, pest management, nutrient management, soil and water management.

Certified Crop Advisers can earn up to 8 hours of continuing education credit. Advance registration, By February 2nd, is $100 per person. Late and on-site registration is $120. Conference topics include:

  • El Niño, Wet Springs & Timely Side-Dressing N – Dr. Jim Angel, State Climatologist, Illinois State Water Survey
  • Taking 'Em By Surprise: Building a Resilient Herbicide Program – Dr. Aaron Hager, Extension Weed Scientist, Department of Crop Sciences
  • Can We Better Manage Corn N? – Dr. Emerson Nafziger, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist, Department of Crop Sciences
  • Field N Loss: Lessons from the Lake Springfield Watershed – Lowell Gentry, Senior Research Specialist, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences
  • Old Nemeses & New Foes: A Day in the Life of the Plant Clinic – Dr. Suzanne Bissonnette, Plant Clinic Director & interim Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Program Leader, Department of Crop Sciences
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: 10 Ways to Reduce Nitrate Loss in Tile Drainage – Dr. Laura Christianson, Assistant Professor of Water Quality, Department of Crop Sciences
  • Green Stem Disorder: Answers or Just More Questions? – Michelle Pawlowski, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Crop Sciences
  • What Can Insect Surveys from 2015 Tell Us Going into 2016? – Dr. Nick Tinsley, Post Doctoral Researcher & Instructor, Department of Crop Sciences

Online registration is available for the conference at

For additional information or a mail mail-in registration form, contact Russ Higgins at (815 274 1343815 274 1343), or


Initial results, 2015 corn date of planting and fungicide application Wed, 11 Nov 2015 15:11:00 +0000 A sincere thank you to the men and women who have, or are, currently serving in the military on this eleventh day of the eleventh month, Veterans Day.

As we near mid-November harvest nears completion in Northern Illinois. Tillage operations are underway and fall anhydrous can now safely be applied when soil conditions permit; soil temperatures in northern Illinois are registering around 40 degrees. Time in the tractor seat or at the desk gives farmers the opportunity to reflect on the 2015 growing season. Despite numerous challenges presented, the year from a production standpoint was successful for most. Several farmers have shared they harvested their highest yielding crops ever, surpassing 2014.

Preliminary research at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center has been assimilated by Dr. Greg Steckel and Dr. Emerson Nafziger. Our corn date of planting study which compared a full season corn variety vs. shorter season variety X four planting dates (April 7th, April  17th , May 1st , May 20th ) X with and without fungicide application. Despite early season rains, our plots were planted in April and May. In previous years the final planting date often neared June.

Observations from Dr. Nafziger include

  • "The planting date response was much flatter than we normally see, the full season variety P1221 with fungicide barely dropped in yield with late planting."(As mentioned, the last planting date in 2015 was May 20, comparatively earlier than previous years)
  • "We did not see a larger effect of delayed planting on the later-maturing hybrid, as we might have expected to see. We saw the opposite."
  • "Fungicide gave an average yield increase of about 15 bushels per acre across hybrids and planting dates. It interacted with both hybrid and planting date, but mostly by increasing yield by different amounts rather than only some of the time." This is not surprising with the disease pressure in 2015. There were obvious varietal differences, but in my field visits, Northern corn leaf blight, and to a lesser extent Grey leaf spot were easily found.
  • "As always, take caution about putting too much weight on results from one year". Dr. Nafziger "went back and looked at the historic data and in this trial from 2010 through 2014, fungicide produced a significant yield response twice – in 2013 and 2014 – and the average over those 5 years was 3.7 bushels, not enough to pay for the practice."

We encourage farmers to take advantage of upcoming University of Illinois programs to enhance skills for their farming operation, including then 2015 Illinois Farm Economics Summit programs. The northern Illinois date is December 15th in DeKalb at Farranda's Banquet Center. Visit the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics Farmdoc website for additional locations and to preregister for the event.

Will Tar spot overwinter in northern Illinois? Thu, 05 Nov 2015 12:24:00 +0000 Phyllachora maydis, had been confirmed in Illinois. We are now trying to determine if the fungus will survive our winter months. A trial was established in cooperation with Dr. Santiago Mideros, University of Illinois plant pathologist. Corn leaves exhibiting Tar spot symptoms were collected and placed in mesh bags. Samples will be left both on the soil surface and buried to emulate corn residue incorporated by tillage. Next spring the samples will be collected and the survivability of the pathogen determined.

Despite the November date, our recent mild weather pattern has prevented our soil temperatures from dropping below 50 degrees. The November 4th Soil temperature measured under bare soil at the NIARC was 54.5 degrees. Current University of Illinois recommendations encourage fall applications of anhydrous ammonia to take place after the soil temperature at 4 inches reaches 50 degrees and is falling. Illinois soil temperatures can be accessed online at

Palmer amaranth confirmed in Stephenson County Thu, 29 Oct 2015 09:10:00 +0000 It is not quite time to close the chapter on the 2015 growing season in northern Illinois. A late season discovery of Palmer amaranth in a Stephenson county field should encourage area farmers to rethink weed management plans for 2016. After notification from an area agronomist, Stephenson County Extension staff collected and delivered amaranth samples to the lab of Dr. Patrick Tranel on the University of Illinois campus. Upon delivery, the plant material was subjected to a molecular marker test. The results confirmed that the plants submitted were Palmer amaranth, in addition the population also tested positive for the gene amplification gene present in glyphosate resistant plants.

So what does this confirmation mean to area farmers? Farmers could question how the weed arrived, and the options are many, including seed carried by harvesting and tillage equipment, as a component of crop seed or in feedstuffs, and a newer theory under investigation, carried by migrating waterfowl. Time would be better spent accepting the fact that the weed is now confirmed in northern Illinois and dedicate efforts to learn how to successfully manage the weed if found in growers fields. The elimination of small pockets or prevention of the spread of the weed is highly encouraged. Dr. Aaron Hager, Weeds Specialist at the University of Illinois has shared information on the introduction of Palmer amaranth and its spread across Illinois for several years. He has shared that it is not uncommon for annual herbicide costs to at least double in areas where Palmer amaranth becomes established. There is simply no soil or foliar-applied herbicides that will provide sufficient control of Palmer amaranth throughout the entire growing season. At least three to five herbicide applications per growing season are common in areas where Palmer amaranth is well established.

What to do at this point in the growing season? As we near the end of October and harvest nears completion, scout fields for mature pigweed type plants. If located, farmers can take initial steps to prevent the widespread (and costly) establishment of this weed. The easiest identifier for mature Palmer amaranth plants are the extended inflorescences, easily in excess of 12 inches. When the weed is present or suspected

  • We encourage farmers to not mechanically harvest mature Palmer amaranth plants with crop harvesting equipment. Physically remove the plants immediately prior to harvest and either leave the plants in the field or place in a sturdy garden bag and remove the plants from the field. Bury or burn the bags in a burn barrel as soon as possible.
  • Fields in which Palmer amaranth seeds were produced should not be tilled during the fall or following spring. Leaving the seeds near the soil surface increases the opportunities for seed predation by various granivores.
  • If the area was already harvested, mark or flag areas where Palmer amaranth plants have produced seed. These areas should be intensively scouted the following season and an aggressive Palmer amaranth management plan implemented to prevent future seed production.
The University of Illinois Weed Science has published Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Palmer Amaranth in Illinois Agronomic Crops in a downloadable pdf that can be accessed at]]>
Tar spot confirmed in Northern Illinois Tue, 22 Sep 2015 19:13:00 +0000 Harvest season is slowly getting underway in Northern Illinois, but the growing season that has thrown so many things at area farmers had one more surprise. A disease that previously had not been found on the continental US was verified first in Indiana, and then confirmed in northern Illinois. Corn leaf samples from three northern Illinois counties have been confirmed positive for the fungus Phyllachora maydis by Megan Romby, National Plant Pathologist with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service in Beltsville, MD. Positive counties in Illinois are LaSalle, DeKalb and Bureau. In her Illinois Bulletin article Dr. Suzanne Bissonnette from the University of Illinois Plant Clinic shared that the samples were collected from commercial fields by Monsanto breeders and pathologists and sent to Dr. Kiersten Wise in response to her inquiry for samples and distribution information of the Tar spot pathogen. Dr. Wise and Purdue Plant Clinic director Gail Ruhl initially identified the pathogen which is new to the United States 1 ½ weeks ago and submitted confirmation samples to the USDA. Upon receipt of the Illinois samples, they diagnosed the fungus, contacted the University of Illinois Plant Clinic and submitted the Illinois samples to the USDA for confirmation at their request. Scouting for the disease has been active in Illinois. Jennifer Chaky, Pioneer Plant Diagnostic Clinic, also has samples from Bureau County diagnosed with Tar spot as have I with samples collected in LaSalle County.

Tar spot has distinctive symptoms. The fungal fruiting body, called an ascomata, really does look like a spot of tar on the leaf. Lesions are black, sunken oval to circular. They can be small flecks of about 1/64" up to about 5/64". The lesions can merge together to produce an affected area up to 3/8". If you run your finger across the leaf you will feel tiny bumps.

Prior to the Indiana finding, Tar spot was known to occur only in cool humid areas at high elevations in Latin America. There are actually 2 fungi that cause Tar spot disease on corn Phyllachora maydis and Monographella maydis. While Monographella maydis is known to be able to cause economic yield losses in Latin America, Phyllachora maydis is not known to significantly reduce yield. Other pathogens may be confused with Tar spot, especially the overwintering teliospore (black) phase of corn rust. Also, there are many fungi, called saprophytes that feed on dead corn tissue and form black splotches on the leaves.

To date only one of the pathogens, Phyllachora maydis, has been found in IN and IL. If you are scouting your fields prior to harvest and suspect Tar spot please submit a sample to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. They are interested in getting a comprehensive idea of distribution of the disease in the state.

For more information on tar spot of corn, please see the USDA-ARS Diagnostic Fact Sheet:]]>
Cover crops interseeded - waiting for rain! Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:26:00 +0000
This one of several cover crop studies currently underway at the NIARC. We are also partnering with the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices with a date of planting trial with 10 cover crop species. Stop and visit us to see the early results.]]>
Troubled corn in northeast Illinois Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:34:00 +0000
A reminder that eligible producers have until September 30, 2015, to formally enroll their farms in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for 2014 and 2015. Previously producers elected one or the other program for each farm, or if no program election was made, the farm defaulted to the PLC program. Defaulted farms are not eligible for 2014 program benefits, but are eligible for potential 2015-2018 program benefits. If a farm is not enrolled for the 2014 and/or 2015 program year by September 30, 2015, the farm will not be eligible for acreage risk or price loss coverage. Please contact your local County FSA Office to finalize this step for the 2014 and/or 2015 ARC or PLC programs prior to September 30, 2015.

I encourage anyone attending the Farm Progress Show next week to stop at the University of Illinois tent (Booth 34W) and visit with the Illinois Extension Commercial Agriculture Crops Educators. I will be joined by Dennis Bowman, Robert Bellm and Angie Peltier at the show.