What a difference a week makes.
Corn planting in Illinois was 74 percent complete Sunday, up from 17 percent one week earlier, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Nearly six of the seven days were suitable for fieldwork as a result of warm, dry weather, and farmers made the most of that opportunity.
Many farmers were able to finish planting corn and start planting soybeans, the service reported.
Statewide, 19 percent of the soybean crop had been planted, up from 1 percent a week earlier.
Although corn planting hadn't caught up with last year's pace, it was nearly on par with the five-year average. During the past five years, an average of 77 percent of the corn crop had been planted by May 19.
In the state's eastern region, which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee, 83 percent of the corn crop had been planted as of Sunday, and 23 percent of the soybeans were in.
UI, Worcester to collaborate on drying research
URBANA — Researchers from the University of Illinois and Worcester Polytechnic Institute plan to work together to research the drying of food and other products.
Using a planning grant from the National Science Foundation, they're setting up the Center for Advanced Research in Drying.
The center will research the drying of moist, porous materials, such as food and other agricultural products, forestry and paper products, chemical products, textiles and biopharmaceuticals, according to a UI release.
The center's main focus will be to develop ways to reduce energy usage and cost in those industries, said Hao Feng, a UI professor of food science and human nutrition who will be local site director for the project.
Other objectives are to improve product quality and enhance sustainable practices, he added.
The grant was made through the NSF's Industry/University Cooperative Research Center program, with about $160,000 in seed money expected to be allocated to the two sites.
"NSF provides seed funding to establish the center, and companies provide broader funding for industrially driven research projects," said Irfan Ahmad, co-principal investigator for the drying research center.
Companies that have expressed interest include Kellogg, McCormick & Co., General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Procter& Gamble, Tate & Lyle, Whole Foods and Dole Fresh Vegetables.