Ag roundup: Nearly half of Illinois soybeans planted

SPRINGFIELD — Nearly half the Illinois soybean crop had been planted as of Sunday, while 91 percent of the state's corn crop was in the ground, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Planting was even further along in the state's eastern region, which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee. Thanks to relatively drier weather than most of the state, 64 percent of the soybeans and 99 percent of the corn had been planted in that region.

But in parts of the state where heavy rains caused flooding, "many fields are likely to require replanting," the agency said.

Few parts of the state had any shortage of soil moisture. In fact, most places had too much.

Statewide, 59 percent of the topsoil and 39 percent of the subsoil had surplus moisture.

Things were considerably better in the eastern region, with only 35 percent of the topsoil and 11 percent of the subsoil having surplus moisture.

Late planting could affect insect activity

URBANA — Late planting of soybeans could mean less risk of soybean aphids this year, but bean leaf beetles could start appearing in fields planted early, a University of Illinois entomologist said.

Continued delays in soybean planting could dim the prospects for soybean aphid establishment this season, entomologist Mike Gray said in a UI news release.

Aphid infestations have become less predictable and more sporadic the last several years in many areas of the Midwest, he said.

At this point, it's too early to offer firm predictions for soybean aphids this year, Gray said. Moderate summer temperatures could benefit aphid populations, he noted.

With regard to bean leaf beetles, soybean fields that are first to emerge will be most susceptible to early-season feeding by the beetles, Gray said.

Adult beetles tend to move from alfalfa or clover into soybean fields in May and June. Fields planted early should be scouted for signs of defoliation, he said.

Hog producers appear in better shape

URBANA — Hog farmers appear in better shape economically now that feed grain prices have subsided, a Purdue University Extension economist said in a University of Illinois news release.

Last year's drought caused feed prices to skyrocket, resulting in large losses for pork producers, Chris Hurt said.

But now, feed prices are lower, putting hog farmers back in break-even territory.

Hurt said hog farmers should wait a couple months before pursuing expansion plans, so they can get a better handle on the size of this year's crops and its effect on feed prices.

"In general, if corn prices stay below $6 per bushel, the pork industry will be able to survive another year of low-crop production," Hurt said.

"Corn prices above $6 would push the outlook back into losses," he said.

If corn prices drop near or below $5, some hog farmers will likely move to expand operations, he added.

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (1):Agriculture

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