URBANA — University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good expects corn and soybean prices to peak sometime this summer or fall.
"It is widely anticipated that corn and soybean prices will reach a peak early, sometime in a relatively wide window around harvest time, and then decline as the marketing year progresses," Good said in a UI news release.
Based on historical patterns, the peak could come anywhere between now and after harvest: "With an early harvest, a price peak by September seems most likely, assuming that prices go high enough to slow the pace of consumption sufficiently," he said.
Good said there's "considerable risk" that the U.S. average yield for corn and soybeans will be lower than anticipated. Plus, for soybeans, demand is "very strong" due to a shortfall in the South American crop and ongoing large purchases of U.S. soybeans by China, he said.
This year, corn and soybeans will qualify as "short crops," Good said. Since 1970, there have been 10 other years in which the corn crop was short — 1970, 1974, 1980, 1983, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2002 and 2011. But the timing of the price peak varied considerably in those years.
For soybeans, there have been eight other years since 1970 that qualify as "short crops," Good said. That includes 1974, 1976, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1993 and 2003. In five of those years, prices peaked early — anywhere from June to November. In other years, a peak came later in the marketing year.
66 percent of state corn crop rated poor, very poor
SPRINGFIELD — Sixty-six percent of the Illinois corn crop was rated poor or very poor as of Sunday, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Soybeans were slightly better at 49 percent poor or very poor.
Soil moisture was in sad shape, with 80 percent of the topsoil very short on moisture, 19 percent short and 1 percent adequate. Subsoils were also dry, with 77 percent very short, 20 percent short and 3 percent adequate.
In the eastern region of the state — which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee — soil moisture tended to be higher.
Here's how the state's crops stacked up as of Sunday:
— Corn: 0 percent excellent, 7 percent good, 27 percent fair, 30 percent poor, 36 percent very poor.
— Soybeans: 1 percent excellent, 12 percent good, 38 percent fair, 25 percent poor, 24 percent very poor.
UI gets $1.8 million grant for biofuels research
CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois laboratory will get $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a multi-institutional grant to develop drought-resistant grasses for use in biofuels.
The five-year grant, which totals $12.1 million, involves the UI, the University of Minnesota, Washington State University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis leading the initiative.
UI plant biology Professor Andrew Leakey, whose lab will receive the money, said the grant is timely given the drought in the Midwest.
"Anything scientists can do to enhance a crop's ability to endure such conditions will be a boon to agriculture in general," he said in a UI release.
The research will focus on Setaria viridis, a grass closely related to miscanthus and switchgrass, as well as corn.
Leakey and his colleagues will lead field experiments on a variety of plants to determine the genetic basis of drought tolerance.
Study finds soybean meal helps hogs fight disease
URBANA — A recent University of Illinois study indicates soybean meal may help hogs fight disease.
The study showed pigs eating soybean meal instead of crystalline amino acids responded better when sick, according to a UI news release.
The research focused on young pigs with the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus.
UI Assistant Professor Ryan Dilger said that in the first week after contracting the virus, pigs with high soybean meal diets had better feed efficiency and less fever than pigs with low soybean meal diets.
Homer woman elected president at national event
HOMER — Koty Allen, 19, of Homer was elected president of the American Junior Simmental Association this month at the 2012 National Classic in Lima, Ohio.
Allen, the fifth generation of her family to raise Simmental cattle, is a second-year student at Parkland College, Champaign, where she is in the first year of the veterinary technician program.
Her father, Roger Allen, raises Simmentals south of Homer, and her grandfather, Ron Allen, runs Allen's Farm Quality Meats between Homer and Ogden.