While market observers focus on the changing outlook for corn and soybean yields brought on by the shift in weather patterns over the last few weeks, export markets continue to reveal consumption information relevant to price formation during the current and subsequent marketing years. A University of Illinois agricultural economist explains that exports will play a significant role in determining prices in both corn and soybean markets moving forward.
“At 2,225 million bushels, the current USDA projection for corn exports during the 2016-17 marketing year appears attainable given cumulative exports to date and unshipped sales,” says Todd Hubbs. On August 4, the Census Bureau released export data for June and corn exports for the marketing year through June totaling 1,965 million bushels. A comparison of Census Bureau export numbers with weekly export inspections provided by the USDA shows the Census export total running around 42.5 million bushels ahead of export inspection totals through June.  
        Through August 3, cumulative export inspections for the 2016-17 marketing year totaled 2,119 million bushels. “If the difference between the two totals remained constant over the period, total exports for corn currently sit at 2,162 million bushels. For the four weeks remaining in the marketing year, export inspections need to average 15.7 million bushels per week to meet the USDA projection,” Hubbs says. “For the last three weeks of export inspection data, corn exports averaged 38.1 million bushels per week. While this pace looks promising, expectations should be tempered by the weak export sales data over the last three weeks in corn for the current marketing year.”
       Net sales over the last three weeks ending July 27 averaged 7.8 million bushels for the current marketing year. Total outstanding sales for the current marketing year sit at 198 million bushels, which is well above the 63 million bushels required to reach the USDA projection, Hubbs adds.  “Currently, the USDA projections look attainable with the potential for 2016-17 marketing-year totals to exceed current projections.”
Current USDA projections for corn exports during the 2017-18 marketing year total 1,875 million bushels, 350 million bushels lower than current marketing-year projections. World import projections during the 2017-18 marketing year provided by the USDA on July 9 are 5,740 million bushels, up 348 million bushels over the current marketing-year estimates. “The increase in
world imports is led by increases in the European Union, Mexico, and Southeast Asia,” Hubbs says. “Large corn crops in South America may mitigate U.S. corn exports. The large corn export totals for the United States last fall due to poor crops in South America do not appear to be feasible in the upcoming marketing year. Current export sales data give indications to support this idea.” As of July 27, corn outstanding sales for the 2017-18 marketing year sit at 174.7 million bushels, a 45 percent decrease in sales from the same time last year.
      USDA projections for 2016-17 marketing-year soybean exports total 2,100 million bushels as of the July 9 reports. Census Bureau export estimates through June place soybean exports at 1,977 million bushels. Census Bureau export totals came in 46 million bushels larger than cumulative marketing-year export inspections over the same period, Hubbs says. “As of August 3, cumulative export inspections for the current marketing year totaled 2,024 million bushels. If the same difference in export pace through June is maintained, total soybean exports will be 2,070 million bushels. For the four weeks remaining in the current marketing year, 7.5 million bushels of soybean exports are required each week to meet the USDA projection. Over the last three weeks, export inspections of soybeans averaged 21.7 million bushels. As of July 27, total outstanding sales for the current marketing year totaled 219 million bushels, which is well above the estimated 30 million bushels required to meet the USDA projection.” 
      As of July 27, net export sales for the current marketing year averaged 9.9 million bushels during the previous three weeks. Current data suggest soybean exports may exceed the USDA projection for this marketing year.
      The USDA forecasts soybean exports to be 2,185 million bushels in the 2017-18 marketing year. World import projections for soybeans during 2017-18 stand at 5,460 million bushels, a 220 million bushels increase over the current marketing year. Chinese imports of soybeans make up a large portion of this increase with 2017-18 soybean imports projected to increase 110 million bushels to 3,454 million bushels. Similar to corn exports, large South American soybean crops may mitigate U.S. soybean export levels during the 2017-18 marketing year. Through July 27, outstanding sales of U.S. soybeans for the 2017-18 marketing year total 235 million bushels, down 42 percent from the same time last year.
      “Corn and soybean exports during the 2016-17 marketing year provided a strong market for consumption. Current estimates of export pace place both crops on track to meet or possibly exceed USDA projections during the current marketing year. Early signs of reduced export potential during the 2017-18 marketing year foretell the possibility of lower export totals in 2017-18, but it is still too early to draw solid conclusions,” Hubbs says. “The size of the 2017 crop in both the U.S. and South America go a long way in determining U.S. export potential next marketing year.”

Corn and soybean exports update.

Illinois 4-H is inviting the public to a front row seat for the historic total solar eclipse in August in southern Illinois where sun’s path creates the longest duration of darkness.

University of Illinois Extension, in cooperation with the Southern Illinois Miners baseball team, will host an educational program on the Miners ballfield in Marion from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21. The ballfield will allow prime viewing for the afternoon eclipse. 

One may order tickets online at Select “register” from the right website box. Tickets are $8 per person for entry; or one may add a lunch meal with their ticket for $15 total. Commemorative t-shirts are also available for $12 each. Deadline to order tickets is Aug. 1

All tickets include a free 4-H glasses needed to safely view the eclipse. Parking is available for $5 per car or $10 per bus. 

Educational programs begin at 10 a.m. offering youth hands-on activities with rockets, drones, robotics, virtual reality, 3-D printing, and environmental science. Families will also be able to enroll their children in 4-H at the site. 

In addition to providing glasses to view the eclipse, a telescope will capture the eclipse and project it to the Miners big screen. 

In a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun, said U of I Extension 4-H Youth Development STEM Specialist Keith Jacobs. Carbondale will experience the longest duration of darkness in the country. The sun will be blocked for a full two minutes and 27 seconds in Marion, Jacobs said. 

It is dangerous to view the eclipse without special glasses, Jacobs said. “Safety will be one of the things we stress during the eclipse,” he said.

“The eclipse is the hottest ticket in town for a family to purchase,” said Kristi Stout, U of I Extension 4-H youth development educator. “We are providing a safe family-friendly location to learn about science while having a fun time and witnessing an historic event.”

No alcohol will be served or allowed on the field for the event. The Miners are providing laser tag and mini golf for an additional cost.

Families wishing to make it a weekend are invited to attend the Sunday night game which celebrates the rich 4-H heritage in Illinois. 

4-H has your seat to the eclipse

Master Gardeners are ready to answer your call 

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk.  The Help Desk is open 1:00-4:00pm, Monday thru Friday throughout the growing season (April – Sept.)

Master Gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more.  They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.

The Master Gardeners can be reached by calling 815-544-3710 (Boone) and 815-986-4357 (Winnebago), emailing in your question to  or or by stopping at the office located at 205 Cadillac Court, Suite 3 in Belvidere or 1040 North Second Street in Rockford, IL.  Master Gardener volunteers will ask you diagnostic questions to understand your horticulture situation, then they will call you back after they have done their research.  They do not make house calls. 

Clients are encouraged to email or bring in photos or drop off samples of their troubled plants, trees, or shrubs.  Call for tips on how to collect samples.

Buy Direct From the Farm

Prairie Bounty of Illinois, a directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses, is available online at

Provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau® and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, the directory contains contact information and locations for more than 900 individual growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout Illinois. The directory also provides consumers with farms’ contact information, products available, method of sale, and a complete list of all community farmers markets and agritourism businesses in Illinois, searchable by city, county, or zip code. 

“Consumers are demanding more of the food they purchase.  They want to make that connection with the farmer and know who grew the food on their table,” said Jim Fraley, Manager of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association. 

This directory helps consumers do just that — support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers markets across the state.  Prairie Bounty has become a great source for retailers as well looking to find growers to provide product for restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, among others.

The directory is regularly updated as growers add their names and markets to the system. Growers interested in adding their names and businesses to Prairie Bounty of Illinois may contact Jim Fraley at 309-557-3109 or via e-mail at, or may visit the Illinois Specialty Growers website at for additional instructions on how to register.

Wondering where your food comes from?  Or perhaps just looking for a fun-filled and educational experience down on the farm?  Bring the whole family and join University of Illinois Extension for a FARM STROLL!  A Farm Stroll is a free, self-guided driving tour of multiple farms holding open houses in a county near you.  Diverse family farms producing local food, fiber, and fun will be opening their farm gates to the public so you can learn about how they produce everything from apples to zucchini.
Farm Strolls are expanding!  Late summer/early fall 2017 will see Farm Strolls in five counties in northernmost Illinois:
· Ogle County Farm Stroll on Sunday, September 10th from noon-5pm – featuring farms with vegetables, berries, beef cattle, poultry, horses, and fresh artisan bread
· DeKalb County Farm Stroll on Sunday, September 17th from noon-5pm – featuring farms with vegetables, flowers, honey, dairy cows, goats, rabbits, and local wine
· Lake County Farm Stroll also on Sunday, September 17th from 10am-5pm (co-sponsored by Lake County Farm Bureau and the College of Lake County) – featuring farms with vegetables, bees, horses, microgreens, apples, poultry, and pumpkins
· McHenry County Farm Stroll on Sunday, September 24th from 11am-5pm (co-sponsored by McHenry County Farm Bureau, Country Financial, and First National Bank) – featuring farms with vegetables, orchards, soaps, pumpkins, hydroponics, lambs, goats, pigs, poultry, and perennials
· Boone County Farm Stroll on Sunday, October 1st from noon-5pm – featuring farms with vegetables, cheese, alpacas, wine, orchards, high tunnels, and a fiber milling
For more information about each Farm Stroll, plus updates as the dates grow near, please visit the appropriate county Extension website, or Northern Illinois Farm Stroll on Facebook: 
If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact your local Extension office. 

Experience Local Food & Fun on FARM STROLLS in Five Northern Illinois Counties!

Interested in Becoming a Master Gardener?  Training begins September 8-November 17, 2017

Do you have a love for spending hours planting and tending to your backyard garden? Do you have a knack for teaching and enjoy sharing your knowledge with others? If gardening is your passion, and you would like to be part of a team that educates youth and adults alike on the joys of gardening, consider becoming a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener.

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.”  There are nearly 3,200 Master Gardener volunteers in Illinois. Each year, they reach thousands of people and are a valuable source to many schools, communities, youth programs and farmers markets. Together, they teach classes and workshops, answer telephone inquiries concerning home horticulture, guide planting and educational demonstrations in community and school gardens, represent the program at the county and state fair, and work with many community organizations to convey up-to-date, research based gardening information.

To become a Master Gardener, you must apply and be accepted into your local county Extension program. Upon acceptance in your county, you then take the Master Gardener Core Training. After completing the core course, Master Gardeners Interns are required to volunteer a minimum of 60 hours over two years in their community. Certified Master Gardeners are those who have completed their classroom training and internship.  To remain an active Master Gardener, you must complete 10 hours of continuing education and 30 hours of volunteer service yearly.

Boone County will be having an in-person training this fall, and is now accepting applications. Submitted applications will be reviewed and interviews will be set up with Extension staff. Applicants must complete an application, interview, and screening.

The Master Gardener training for 2017 will be offered Fridays, starting September 8 and running through November 17, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Boone County Extension Conference Room located at 205 Cadillac Ct., Suite 5 in Belvidere.  In-person training costs $175 and includes the Master Gardener manual with helpful resources and other materials. 

If you are interested in becoming a Boone County Master Gardener and would like to register for the program, please contact University of Illinois Extension at 815-544-3710, visit us online at or stop by and see us in the Boone County Extension office at 205 Cadillac Ct., Suite 3, Belvidere.  If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the program, please contact the Boone County Extension office at 815-544-3710.  Or visit to find an Extension office near you.

University of Illinois Agronomy Day turns 60 in 2017- August 17 

The 60th annual Agronomy Day will be held at the University of Illinois on Thursday, Aug. 17. Equipment and crop varieties may have changed, but the goal of Agronomy Day has been consistent since its inception in 1957: to communicate cutting-edge research results that will benefit the Illinois farming community.

"Agronomy Day provides direct connections among the agricultural grower, the consumer, and the research scientist," says Bob Dunker, agronomist and former superintendent of the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, and chairperson for Agronomy Day. “Making these connections advances the goal of feeding our growing population across the globe.” 

Agronomy Day was held in a new location in 2016, and the South First Street Facility will host the event again this year. The facility is located at 4202 South 1st Street in Savoy. Directions are on the Agronomy Day website.

“Last year’s attendees told us they liked the new location,” Dunker says. “We got some feedback and will be making improvements so that the event is an even bigger success this year.”

Experts will discuss a variety of topics from soil fertility to insect management, crop production, weed control, corn and soybean genetics, plant diseases, farm economics, and agricultural engineering. Field tours depart at 7 a.m. from the main tent, making continuous stops at research plots throughout the event. 

Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from Kimberlee Kidwell, new dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, with her vision for the direction of the college. New faculty in the Department of Crop Sciences may also be on hand to say hello. 

Exhibits by ACES programs, commercial vendors, research posters, and student clubs will be on display in the “big” tent. Lunch will be available for a nominal charge. 

More information and registration can be found at or by contacting Sue Overmyer at 217-300-3702 or