UI hosts field day on pumpkin research

URBANA — Folks interested in the latest research on pumpkin production can find out about it Thursday during Pumpkin Field Day at the University of Illinois Vegetable Crops Research Farm.

Presentations on nine topics will be given in the research plots from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Illinois leads the nation in pumpkin production, growing and processing more than 90 percent of the processing pumpkins produced in the U.S.

UI staff will discuss pumpkin varieties, production systems, herbicides and weed control, bio-fumigants, insect pests, diseases, spray equipment, post-harvest issues and marketing.

Registration is free. To register, call Mohammad Babadoost in the UI Department of Crop Sciences, 333-1523.

Farm families can win 'meals in the field'

MAHOMET — Farm families in East Central Illinois can register to win a free hot lunch served on the farm as part of the "Meals in the Field" program sponsored by Farm Credit Services of Illinois.

The Mahomet regional office — which serves Champaign, Piatt, Douglas, Vermilion and Ford counties — will serve at least one "meal in the field" each weekday the week of Sept. 16-22 as part of National Farm Safety and Health Week.

Families can register by calling the Mahomet office, 590-2222, or going online at http://fcsillinois.com/register.

Families in Moultrie and DeWitt counties should contact the Decatur regional office; families in Coles and Edgar, the Paris regional office; and families in Iroquois County, the Watseka regional office, according to Farm Credit Services spokesman Rod Stoll.

Typically the meals are for 10 to 25 people, Stoll said, but on one unusual occasion, Farm Credit served as many as 70 people at one sitting. Farm Credit staff serves the food wherever farmers are working during harvest.

Each "Meals in the Field" family will also be provided a Farm First Aid Kit produced by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. The kit includes an isothermal blanket, ice packs, a finger splint and eye wash containers.

Last year, Illinois had a 50 percent reduction in farm-related deaths, compared with the previous year. The 20 farm fatalities that occurred between July 1, 2011, and June 30 of this year were the fewest in the state in more than 30 years, according to Farm Credit Services.

Topsoil moisture in state best since May

SPRINGFIELD — Weekend precipitation lifted topsoil moisture to the best levels since May, the Illinois Department of Agriculture reported Tuesday.

The state received, on average, 3.18 inches of rain during the past week. As a result, 51 percent of the topsoil statewide had adequate moisture levels, and 2 percent had surplus moisture.

It was the largest percentage of cropland in the adequate and surplus moisture categories since mid-May, the department said.

In the state's eastern region — which includes the Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee areas — 78 percent of the topsoil had adequate moisture.

Only 33 percent of the subsoil in the state's eastern region had adequate moisture, but that figure was still better than any other region of the state.

As of Sunday, 12 percent of the state's corn crop had been harvested, up from 2 percent at this time last year.

Only 25 percent of the corn crop was considered "good" or "fair," with the other 75 percent rated "poor" or "very poor."

But rains seemed to benefit the soybean crop. As of Sunday, 42 percent of the crop was considered fair, 17 percent good and 1 percent excellent. The other 40 percent was considered poor or very poor.

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