SHABBONA – Those in the farming industry got an idea Tuesday of what to expect this growing season, and much of the information centered on the state’s lack of rain.
“This has been the year to make us forget 1988 in the state,” said Emerson Nafziger, agronomist with the University of Illinois Extension, referring to the drought that year.
Agronomy Day drew 110 people to the University of Illinois’ Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center in Shabbona.
It was the first of a series of six Agronomy Day sessions held at University of Illinois research centers throughout the state.
University of Illinois Extension presenters touched on several topics, including how to produce high soybean yields, information on corn rootworm issues, how to identify corn diseases, and information on 2012 weed control challenges and nutrient removal.
“This is specifically done to give producers an update of what’s going on this season,” said Fabian Fernandez, assistant professor of soil fertility at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
He said the drought is one of the biggest concerns for producers this season. Crops have no water to pull into their roots, and it’s causing them to be deficient in minerals and micro-nutrients, such as potassium.
Nafziger said crops statewide continue to deteriorate, adding that Indiana is the only state hit harder by drought than Illinois. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor record from July 3 showed moderate drought conditions in DeKalb County.
What has saved Illinois’ corn crop is good soil and farming practices, he said.
“You’re in good company if your crops are under a lot of stress,” Nafziger said. “The crop we see growing here is a testament to soils and management.”
Corn planted after soybeans seemed to do better this season because the root system is better able to extract water from the soil.
No serious damage has been done to soybean crops so far, Nafziger said, and the area still could see a good crop if it rains before the end of July.
During another presentation, Carl Bradley, a plant pathologist with the University of Illinois Extension, showed producers how to identify plant diseases called Goss’s wilt and northern corn leaf blight by passing around examples of plants with those diseases.
The lack of rain put this season’s crops at lower risk for disease pressure, but Bradley warned that Goss’s wilt showed up as recently as last season.
He said diseases are best managed before planting, which includes selecting a seed hybrid with a high level of disease resistance and tilling the ground to break down bacterial residues.
“There really are no in-season management practices that are effective,” he said.
Bob Reddell, a farm loan officer with Citizens First National Bank in Somonauk, attended Tuesday’s Agronomy Day to get a better understanding of the challenges his clients face.
“I was more or less interested in seeing the facilities, finding out what’s cutting edge in the industry, and finding out how the effects of the drought will impact my customers and the people I work with,” he said.