A roundup of agriculture news.
Champaign County ranked fourth among Illinois counties last year in the number of soybean acres harvested and the number of bushels of soybeans produced.
But the average corn and soybean yields for area counties — while decent, relative to the rest of the state — weren't standouts.
Estimates recently released by the National Agricultural Statistical Service pegged Champaign County's average corn yield at 164 bushels and the average soybean yield at 51 bushels in 2011.
Those were above the statewide averages of 157 bushels for corn and 47 bushels for soybeans.
But they didn't come anywhere near Woodford County's average corn yield of 187 bushels, or Carroll County's average soybean yield of 63 bushels. Those were the tops in the state.
In East Central Illinois, countywide average yields for corn ranged from a low of 137 bushels in Ford County to a high of 178 bushels in DeWitt County.
For soybeans, average yields ranged from a low of 44 bushels in Ford County to a high of 55 bushels in both DeWitt and McLean counties.
Last year, Champaign County harvested 226,000 acres of soybeans — the fourth-highest in the state, behind McLean, Livingston and Iroquois counties.
Champaign County produced more than 11.5 million bushels of soybeans, ranking behind McLean, Livingston and LaSalle counties.
Champaign County did not rank among the top five counties in corn production, however. Top honors in that category went to LaSalle, McLean, Iroquois, Bureau and Livingston counties.
'Meet The Buyers' event set for March 27
CHAMPAIGN — Area farmers can meet one-on-one with regional fresh-produce buyers at a "Meet The Buyers" event March 27 at the Champaign County Farm Bureau.
"We have a great lineup of buyers attending, including Schnucks, Central Illinois Produce, Strawberry Fields, Common Ground, Feeding Illinois, Feeding America, Hendrick House, University of Illinois Food Service and others," said Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Several speakers will also be on hand to help farmers market their produce locally.
Extension educators Steve Ayers and John Pike will lead a training session on commercial market opportunities for locally produced foods.
Todd Rusk of UI Business Innovation Services will lead a discussion on packing houses and food hubs.
Plus, members of The Edible Economy Project committee will give an update on a joint food hub project planned for central Illinois.
"Meet The Buyers" is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 27 at the farm bureau office, 801 N. Country Fair Drive, C.
A "food hub summit" will follow, from 7 to 9 p.m., also at the office. The summit is hosted by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Both events are free to farmers. Those wishing to attend either should contact the Champaign County Farm Bureau, 352-5235, by March 22.
ExplorACES set for March 9-10 at UI
URBANA — Prospective students can get a better idea of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences during ExplorACES, set for March 9-10 on campus.
The student-run event will showcase opportunities for students, offer information on study-abroad programs, illustrate what students can do with agriculture-related degrees and how students can apply for nearly $2 million in scholarships.
The event is slated from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 10.
More than 125 exhibits will be on display, and visitors can feel the inside of a cow's stomach, do flower-design to music and create their own soil profile, among other things.
Details are available at http://www.exploraces.org.
Info on state farmers' market to be given
SPRINGFIELD — Area farmers who want to take part in the Illinois Products Farmers' Market in Springfield this summer can get more information at a meeting March 22.
The Illinois Products Farmers' Market is held Thursday evenings on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, starting May 10 and running through Oct. 18 — except during the Illinois State Fair.
In addition to selling fresh produce, the market gives the public a chance to buy other products produced or processed in Illinois.
Potential and current vendors can get more information about the market at a meeting March 22 at the fairgrounds. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Illinois Department of Agriculture auditorium, at the corner of Eighth Street and Sangamon Avenue, inside Gate 11.
For more information, visit http://www.illinoisproductmarket.com.
Corn check-off referendum scheduled this month
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Agriculture has set March 28 as the date for a referendum on whether the voluntary corn checkoff rate should be increased by one-quarter cent per bushel.
The proposal would increase the current rate of three-eighths of a cent to five-eighths of a cent. Corn farmers would continue to have a right to a full refund.
Farmers engaged in the production and marketing of corn are eligible to vote. They can vote in person at local Extension offices and at some county Farm Service Agency offices during normal business hours March 28.
Absentee ballots must be requested in writing from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board sought the referendum. That board administers the checkoff fund, investing in market development, research, education and promotional programs to enhance the profitability of corn farmers.
Crop insurance deadline approaching
SPRINGFIELD — The deadline for buying crop insurance for crops planted this spring is approaching, according to the Springfield regional office of the Risk Management Agency.
Producers won't be able to buy crop insurance, make coverage and policy changes, switch insurance providers or cancel a policy after the March 15 deadline.
Corn and soybean producers will have a new option this year that adjusts actual yield to reflect yield increases due to improved production practices and crop genetics.
That option — called the Trend-Adjusted Actual Production History — increases a producer's past yields based on the county's historical yield trend.
Schools for fruit growers set for next week
MOUNT VERNON — People interested in growing strawberries and small fruits — such as blueberries and blackberries — can get more information at sessions to be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Mount Vernon.
Specialists from the University of Illinois, the University of Arkansas and other places will give presentations.
The Illinois Small Fruit School will be from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, while the Illinois Strawberry School will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Same-day registration is $40 per family. The fee includes admission to the educational sessions and trade show, as well as a copy of the 2012 Midwest Commercial Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide.
More information is available at web.extension.illinois.edu.