A roundup of agricultural news:
SPRINGFIELD — Parts of Illinois need more rain, but generally the state's corn and soybean crops look good.
According to a report Monday from the Illinois office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 91 percent of the state's corn crop is rated excellent, good or fair, as is 93 percent of the soybean crop.
The breakdown on corn: 16 percent excellent, 48 percent good, 27 percent fair, 7 percent poor and 2 percent very poor.
For soybeans, the breakdown was: 13 percent excellent, 58 percent good, 22 percent fair, 5 percent poor and 2 percent very poor.
In the eastern region of the state — which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee — 85 percent of the corn crop had silked and 14 percent had reached the dough stage as of Sunday. Sixty-five percent of the soybean crop was blooming and 16 percent was setting pods.
Sixty-one percent of the topsoil in the eastern region had adequate moisture, 34 percent was short of moisture and 5 percent was very short.
But southeastern Illinois has too much rain, with some areas reporting surplus moisture in the topsoil and subsoil.
Free plant diagnosis offered
URBANA — People who have troubled corn, soybean or tomato plants can get the problem diagnosed for free at the University of Illinois Agronomy Day.
The UI Plant Clinic will have specialists on hand at the Aug. 15 event to diagnose plant problems for visitors. One plant sample per person is requested.
The Plant Clinic booth will be in the large tent at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center off St. Mary's Road and South Wright Street Extended. Agronomy Day events begin at 7 a.m., with field tours departing every half-hour until noon.
Smithsonian seeks farmers' stories
WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is seeking personal stories from farmers about how innovation and technology has changed agriculture.
Some of those stories will be featured in an "American Enterprise" exhibition, scheduled to open in May 2015. Others will be featured on the museum's blog and social media sites.
Those wanting to submit stories, photographs and other memorabilia about how farming has changed can do so at a website, http://americanenterprise.si.edu/.
Exports, biodiesel to spur soybean demand
URBANA — Exports to China and increasing biodiesel production could lift demand for soybeans in the year ahead, University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good said.
China has already purchased nearly 400 million bushels of U.S. soybeans for import during the 2013-14 marketing year, Good said in a UI news release.
Sales to China are about 25 million bushels larger than at this time last year, he said.
Plus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that soybean oil used for biodiesel production will reach 5.5 billion pounds in 2013-14, up from 4.8 billion pounds this year.
"Unlike the U.S. corn market, where demand and consumption appear to be reaching a plateau, demand prospects for soybeans appear to be strong," Good said. "If that is the case, a period of higher soybean prices relative to corn prices would be expected."
Digestibility of pig feed ingredients compared
URBANA — Pigs digest oil in soybeans easier than oil from corn co-products, according to a study led by University of Illinois Professor Hans H. Stein.
Researchers tested the digestibility of four corn co-products: distillers dried grains with solubles, high-protein distillers dried grains, corn germ and high-oil corn.
They also tested full-fat soybeans and extracted corn oil.
Soybeans appeared to be more digestible than the corn co-products due to the way the fat is stored.
"In soybeans, you have almost 20 percent fat ... a lot of that fat is just stored as regular triglycerides and relatively easy to get to," the animal sciences professor said in a UI news release.
But in corn co-products, "some of the fat is encapsulated by fiber, which makes it more difficult for the enzymes to digest," he said.
Extracted corn oil was the most digestible substance in the study, followed by full-fat soybeans.
It would seem ideal if fat could be extracted from corn co-products and added to pigs' diet as corn oil, Stein said.
"Whether such an approach would be economical would depend on the cost of extracting the oil from corn germ and other ingredients," he added.