Today's Farm - Harvest 2019

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A look at farming today in Ogle County!

Harvest 2019

A look at

farming today in

Ogle County

Published By Ogle County Life & The Rochelle News-Leader

with contributions from the

Ogle County Farm Bureau and

other local agricultural

agencies

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Section E - Page 12 Ogle County Life/Rock Valley Shopper Monday, Aug. 12, 2017

Yield-boosting stay-green

gene Beef identified herd from long expansion near end?

experiment in corn

URBANA – A corn – gene Looking back a decade

identified from a 118-year-old

experiment or so, the at the University high-feed-price era from

of 2007 Illinois to could 2013 boost yields caused downsizing of

of today’s elite hybrids with

no

the

added

beef

inputs.

industry.

The gene,

Beef cow numbers

identified reached in a recent low in Plant 2014, study. which resulted

Biotechnology

in record-high

Journal

finished

study,

cattle prices near

controls a critical piece of

senescence, $148 per or live seasonal hundredweight dieback,

Record-high in corn. When the gene calf prices then stimu-

in 2015.

is turned off, field-grown elite

hybrids lated yielded expansion 4.6 bushels of the breeding herd.

more As per an acre example, on average than Kentucky 500-tostandard

plants.

550-pound

Dating back to

calves

1896, the

were

trait in

$236

corn.

per hundredweight

experiment in was 2015, de-

explains Purdue

Illinois

signed to test whether corn

University agricultural economist

grain composition could

be Chris changed Hurt. through artificial

“From selection, the a relatively low point in 2014, beef

new concept introduced by

Charles cow numbers Darwin just 37 have years expanded by 9 percent.

Repeated Total cow selection numbers of including dairy

earlier.

high- and low-protein corn

lines

cows

had

are

the intended

up 7 percent.

effect ery

Commercial

with practical impact.”

beef

within production about 10 generations. has increased by 11 percent;

As selection for the traits continued,

however, additional

a combination of 7 percent more cows

changes and a were 4 percent noticeable. increase in beef output

per “One cow,” of the things Hurt that was says.

noted as early as the 1930s

The mid-year Cattle Invento-

was that the low-protein line

stays greener longer than

the high-protein line. It’s

really obvious,” says Stephen

Moose, professor in the Department

of Crop Sciences at

Illinois and co-author of the

Staying green longer into

the season can mean more

yield. The plant continues

photosynthesizing and putting

energy toward developing

grain. But, until now, no

one knew the specific gene

responsible for the stay-green

“The stay-green trait is

like a ‘fountain of youth’ for

plants because it prolongs

photosynthesis and improves

yield,” says Anne Sylvester,

a program director at the National

Science Foundation,

which funded this research.

“This is a great basic discov-

The discovery of the gene

was made possible through a

decade-long public-private

partnership between Illinois

and Corteva Agriscience.

Moose and Illinois collaborators

initially gave Corteva

“From the low

point in 2014, beef

cow numbers have

expanded by 9

percent.”

Chris Hurt

scientists ry from access USDA to a population

tends to support the

idea

derived

that

from

the 5-year

the longterm

corn protein experiment

herd expansion rate

with has differences leveled in off, the staygreen

end trait. to the Corteva expansion. scientists The total number

perhaps signaling an

mapped the stay-green trait

to of a cattle particular and gene, calves NAC7, was typically unchanged use. in

and the developed July survey corn plants of producers. Beef cow

with low expression for the

trait.

numbers

Like the

were

low-protein

unchanged from a year

parent, ago, and these milk plants stayed cow numbers dropped 1

green

percent.

longer.

USDA

They tested

also reported that the

these plants in greenhouses

and 2019 fields calf across crop the country may actually be down

over modestly, two field seasons. which will slow beef production

increases for 2020 and

Not only did corn grow

2021.

just fine without NAC7,

yield increased by almost 5

bushels per acre compared

to conventional hybrids. Notably,

the field results came

without added nitrogen fertilizer

beyond what farmers

“Collaborating with the

University of Illinois gives

us the opportunity to apply

leading-edge technology to

one of the longest running

studies in plant genetics,”

says Jun Zhang, research scientist

at Corteva Agriscience

and co-author of the study.

“The insights we derive from

“Another sign of producers’ unwillingness

to continue expansion are

fewer replacement heifers going back

into the breeding herd,” Hurt says.

“Beef replacement heifers were down

4 percent and dairy replacement heifers

were down 2 percent. In addition,

weaker calf prices are not providing

financial incentives to expand. Kentucky

steer calf prices so far this year

are $7 lower than for the same period

this last relationship year.” can result sometime in the last 100 years

in more bushels without of this experiment, and fortunately

has been preserved

Trade has been a negative factor an increase in input costs,

potentially cattle prices increasing so both far this so that year, we can but benefit that from

profitability

may improve,

and productivity

Hurt notes.

it now,”

“Beef

Moose says.

exports

for farmers.”

He can’t say for sure

in Moose’s the first team five then sequenced

percent. the However, NAC7 gene in current because sales in the indicate 1920s crop

months when the were mutation down occurred, 3

the high- and low-protein sciences faculty threw out

corn a more lines and rapid were export able to pace the original for seed the from rest 1896. of

figure the year, out just how and the USDA gene analysts Future potential suggest for this

facilitates senescence and

why

annual

it stopped

exports

working

may

in

be unchanged for

the low-protein year,” corn. he says.

“We could see exactly

what the mutation was. It

seems to have happened

innovation could include

commercialized seed with

no or reduced expression of

NAC7, giving farmers the

option for more yield without

See HERD page 4

additional fertilizer inputs.

2 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


Inside this issue

Weather hitting crops hard...........................................................................page 5

Soybean yield uncertainty significant in price movements........................page 7

A showing at the fair.....................................................................................page 10

‘Off the Cuff’ with Ron Kern......................................................................page 12

Study advances possible genetic control for weeds...................................page 14

Helping behind the scenes...........................................................................page 17

Rainwater corn a summer tradition...........................................................page 20

New farmers.gov feature helps producers ................................................page 22

Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

3


HERD: More heifers going to feedlots

From page 2

“China remains the biggest concern

as their volumes were down 39 percent

in the five months for which we have

official census data. China purchased

around $1 billion dollars of U.S. beef

per year prior to our trade conflicts. So,

prospects of negotiations with China on

trade will likely have impacts on the

cattle markets as well as a number of

other important agricultural products,”

Hurt adds.

In the Cattle on Feed report, USDA

indicated a 2 percent increase in the

numbers on feed, which was a recordlarge

inventory for July since 1996,

when they started just reporting on

feedlots with 1,000 head capacity or

larger. While a record, the numbers

were in line with expectations prior to

the report.

While there are more animals on

feed, the mix of steers and heifers provides

further evidence that brood cow

producers are sending more heifers to

the feedlots rather than holding them

back for breeding stock compared to a

year ago. While total numbers on feed

are up 2 percent, the number of steers

are down 2 percent, but heifers are up

8 percent from last year. This lends additional

support to the idea of the brood

cow expansion leveling off.

Domestic beef production so far this

year has been nearly unchanged with 1

percent more animals being offset by

1 percent lighter market weights. For

the remainder of the year, numbers are

expected to rise about 2 percent, but

with a continuation of lighter marketing

weights, beef supplies may only rise by

a modest 1 percent.

“Higher feed prices will generally

support lighter marketing weights for

the rest of this year and into 2020,”

Hurt notes. “Reduced production of

corn and soybeans will increase the

costs of energy and protein in diets,

but cattle also utilize grazing and forages.

The adverse 2019 planting season

has opened opportunities to graze and

harvest cover crops on prevented plant

acres including corn silage starting

September 1.”

In some areas this may increase

feedstocks substantially and keep forage

prices from rising. But in other

regions, spring crop planting was not

as delayed, and cattle concentrations

may be low in areas where prevented

plant acres are high.

“Forages by their nature are bulky

and expensive to transport. So, matching

the locations of cattle and excess

forages is imperfect. Regardless, opening

cover crops to grazing and harvest

on these qualified acres in September

will be a benefit to the beef and dairy

sectors,” Hurt says.

See STEER page 23

Agriculture generates more than $19 billion annually in Illinois.

6% of all U.S. agricultural exports are from Illinois.

Illinois farmland covers nearly 27 million acres.

Agriculture means

business in Illinois.

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4 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


Weather hitting

crops hard

By Brad Jennings

EDITOR

THIS summer has

been a tough one

for area farmers.

First, May saw so much

rain that farmers couldn’t

get crops into fields. Then

the rains stopped and the

extreme heat moved in.

It has certainly led to

some concern.

“We are probably at

a lot more risk this year

than we have been most

years,” said Keith Poole,

an area farmer and president

of the Ogle County

Farm Bureau.

Jennie Atkins, Water

and Atmospheric

Resources Monitoring

(WARM) Program manager

at the University

of Illinois’ Illinois State

Water Survey, said that

soils in July were warm

across Illinois. They were

certainly higher than the

average temperatures last

year.

Atkins said soil moisture

levels also fell during

July. That is a concern for

people like Poole.

See CROP page 6

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Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

5


CROPS: Reduced yields expected

From page 5

He said that because the early rains

led to later planting, theoretically a

warmer July would have been fine. But

there just wasn’t enough rain, he said.

“We really needed some moisture to

go with that heat,” said Poole, adding

that at his farm there has been very

little rain since June.

He said because of the early rains,

the roots didn’t have to go very deep

for moisture. Once they needed to

go deeper for that moisture, there

weren’t developed enough to do that.

The state Water Survey supports

that, saying there is plenty of moisture

deeper in the soil.

Poole said what is important now

is that the first frost doesn’t come to

early. Because so many crops were

planted late, farmers need a longer

season.

But even if the season is longer, it is

still not looking like it will be a good

one.

“We’re going to have reduced

yields, no doubt about it,” Poole said.

But it could be worse for Ogle

County farmers. Poole said that in

some parts of Illinois farmers didn’t get

anything planted.

The weather, coupled with trade

concerns, has made 2019, “a year for

the record books,” Poole said.

While Poole will be keeping an eye

to the sky hoping for more rain and a

late frost, he said farmers are certainly

concerned.

“We are probably at a lot more risk

this year than we have been most

years,” he said.

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6 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


Prospects for soybean demand

URBANA — Uncertainty regarding soybean acreage

and yield potential will continue to be significant factors

in soybean price movements through harvest. Without a

severe crop shortfall, higher soybean prices rely on demand

prospects over the next year, according to University of

Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs.

Soybean crush slowed in the final quarter of the current

marketing year. The USDA lowered 2018-19 marketingyear

crush by 15 million bushels to 2.085 billion bushels in

July. Estimates of monthly soybean crush from the USDA

through May totaled 1.58 billion bushels. The NOPA crush

report indicated a June crush of 148.8 million bushels. For

this marketing year, USDA monthly crush numbers have

run approximately 6 percent above NOPA crush report estimates.

At this rate, June crush equaled 158 million bushels

and brought the total crush for the first 10 months of the

marketing year to 1.734 billion bushels. Hubbs says crush

during the last two months of the marketing year needs to

total 350 million bushels to reach the USDA projection,

on par with totals crushed in the previous year over the

same period.

The USDA estimates soybean exports this marketing

year at 1.7 billion bushels, down 434 million bushels from

the 2017-18 marketing year. As of July 25, exports totaled

approximately 1.54 billion bushels. Outstanding sales sit

at 315 million bushels with 173 million bushels slated for

China. Export inspections need to average 30.2 million

bushels per week over the remainder of the marketing year

to hit the USDA estimate. Inspections averaged 29.5 million

bushels over the last four weeks.

“The current pace of exports appears to be slightly below

the pace to meet the USDA estimate. Based on the latest

consumption levels, ending stocks look certain to exceed 1

billion bushels at the end of August,” Hubbs says.

Soybean demand over the next year depends on China.

“The current state of Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans

and the continuing spread of African swine fever does

not bode well for U.S. soybean exports,” Hubbs explains.

“Resumption of negotiations with China this week provides

some hope for a resolution to the trade impasse. China’s

approval of goodwill purchases totaling approximately 110

million bushels offers some support for exports.

“Chinese soybean purchases remain contingent on

progress in negotiations. Based on previous negotiation

outcomes, a decent probability exists that tariffs stay in

place through the next marketing year,” he adds.

The outbreak of African swine fever in China last year

led to the Chinese hog herd dropping nearly 20 percent in

2019. Prospects of an additional 10 percent reduction in

2020 and a 30 percent drop in the sow herd indicate the

current outbreak may take many years to resolve. Hubbs

says reports from the World Organization of Animal Health

(OIE) indicate the disease continues to spread in Asia and

parts of Europe. In Asia, reports of ongoing outbreaks of

“The current pace of

exports appears to be

slightly below the pace to

meet the USDA estimate.

Based on the latest

consumption levels, ending

stocks look certain to

exceed 1 billion bushels at

the end of August.”

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the disease in Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, Cambodia, and

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disease in the region.

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Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

7


SOY: Bushel forecast for Chinese soybean imports in billions

From page 7

“Lower pork consumption, substitution

from other protein sources, and pork imports

look to take up the slack in Chinese pork

production,” Hubbs says. “A rapid escalation

of U.S. pork imports to China expected

at the start of the year failed to materialize,

but expectations of increased pork exports

in the latter half of 2019 remain in place.”

A larger herd in the U.S. supplying

Chinese protein needs supports soybean

crush, he adds. “However, reduced soybean

exports to China due to lower feed demand

and tariffs point toward another marketing

year of weak exports.”

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8 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


MEAL: Large herds support soybean meal use

From page 8

The forecast for Chinese soybean

imports during the 2019-20 marketing

year come in near 3.2 billion bushels, up

slightly from last year and around 260

million bushels less than seen before

the disease outbreak.

In conjunction with the prospects of

weak demand from the world’s largest

soybean importer, soybean production

in South America is forecast up 2.3

percent in 2020 at 6.8 billion bushels.

Brazil’s production forecast sits at 4.5

billion bushels, up 220 million bushels

over the estimate for the 2018-19 crop.

Another good crop year in South America

creates a highly competitive export

environment in 2020. Hubbs says.

The USDA projects the 2019-20

marketing-year consumption levels for

crush and exports at 2.115 and 1.875

billion bushels, respectively. Large

“A national average yield near 44.7 bushels

per acre is necessary to reduce ending stocks

to 500 million bushels under current acreage

and consumption scenarios...”

livestock herds look to support domestic

soybean meal use despite the potential

for lower soybean meal exports. Expansion

in biodiesel production supports

soybean oil use from crush as well.

Reduced Chinese demand combined

with larger South American soybean

crops places the current export forecast

in question, Hubbs says.

Outstanding sales for the 2019-20

marketing year came in at 111 million

bushels through July 18 and lagged

last year’s total by approximately 250

million bushels.

Todd Hubbs

Hubbs adds that the potential for a

sharply lower soybean crop in 2019

remains a possibility.

“Reduced yield potential due to lateplanting

and lower acreage point to a

smaller crop. A national average yield

near 44.7 bushels per acre is necessary

to reduce ending stocks to 500 million

bushels under current acreage and

consumption scenarios put forth by the

USDA. Under a lower demand scenario,

the yield must fall further. Pricing some

new crop soybeans on rallies this summer

may be prudent,” he said.

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Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

9


A ‘fair’ showing

BY MONETTA YOUNG

LEVI Eden has grown

up attending the Ogle

County Fair. He actually

attended his first 4-H fair

when he was just 6-weeks-old

and his older sisters were showing

projects.

Eden, now 14, had multiple

projects at the fair this year:

food, swine, poultry and horticulture/crops

— this is his sixth

year in 4-H.

For his food projects he

entered yeast bread dinner rolls

and a white cake. He enjoys

time in the kitchen. For swine he

had three show pigs, a carcass

pig and competed in showmanship.

Swine are judged on

breeding gilt or market gilt. The

judges look at mothering characteristics

of breeding pigs and

features for future litters. For

market pigs, they look at how

the animal will dress out.

He also entered 15 chickens

in the annual show. The chickens

are judged on coloring,

formation and breed standards.

He grows many vegetables

in his garden for 4-H projects as

well. This year he grew tomatoes,

hot peppers, sweet corn,

onions and potatoes.

See FAIR page 11

Levi Eden has been

in 4-H for six years.

This year, one of

his projects at the

Ogle County Fair

included showing

swine.

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10 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


FAIR: 4-H fun for Eden

From page 10

“The wet spring made a difficult start

this year,” said Eden. “But once they got

planted they seemed to grow ok.”

His favorite parts of the fair include

the Ag Olympics where teams of

four participate on an obstacle course.

Throughout the year he lends a helping

hand at the extension office helping Jodi

Baumgartner.

Eden is a member of the Carefree 4-H

Club. He will be a freshman at Oregon

High School this fall, where he participates

in soccer and baseball. In his spare

time he enjoys fishing, trapping and

hunting. The family has a variety of pets

including an energetic puppy, fish and a

bearded dragon, who watched intently as

we chatted at the dining room table.

Chickens and pigs are a

big 4-H projects for Levi

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Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

11


Gearing up for annual meeting

THE Ogle County Farm Bureau

has announced that they will

host its annual member meeting

on Sept. 12 at St. Mary’s Community

Center, in Oregon.

The meeting marks

the one-hundred second

anniversary for the Ogle

County Farm Bureau,

which was started in

1917.

Ogle County Farm Ron Kern

Bureau members and

their families are invited to attend the

September 12th meeting and participate

in the dinner and business meeting

of the organization.

The evening begins at 7 p.m. with

a roast pork dinner. Following dinner,

Ogle County Farm Bureau President

Keith Poole will convene the annual

business meeting of the members.

During the business session members

will elect directors for the farm bureau

organization, receive committee and

board reports and conduct business as

scheduled prior to the meeting.

Last year more than 200 Farm

Bureau members and guests attend the

annual meeting and more are expected

to attend this year.

Tickets for the annual meeting must

be purchased in advance for $5 each.

Tickets can be obtained from the Ogle

County Farm Bureau office, in Oregon,

or from directors of the organization.

For more information on the meeting

or on obtaining tickets contact Ron

Kern at the Ogle County Farm Bureau

at 815-732-2231.

********

A recent report from the Agriculture

department shows full implementation

of rural broadband could increase farm

and ranch production.

USDA’s report “A Case for Rural

Broadband” highlights the benefits

full deployment of broadband offers to

agriculture. Megan Nelson, American

Farm Bureau Federation economic

analyst, says the report shows policy

makers the importance of fully implementing

rural broadband.

This is showing an approximate 18

percent of total production could be

added to the agriculture sector if these

technologies were meeting producer

demand. However, an important thing

to realize, too, is that these estimations

are illustrating more for policy makers

and educating them on some of these

amazing technologies that are helping

producers today.

Nelson says the livestock sector

holds the biggest potential economic

gain from full implementation of rural

broadband.

See BUREAU page 13

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TFP2018

12 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


BUREAU: Direct payments to be made to producers

From page 12

Livestock and dairies stand to benefit

the most with about $20.7 billion added

annually to this sector. Row crops stands

to benefit about $13.7 billion annually,

this is mainly yield improvement and

reduced costs by limiting the number of

inputs put on the fields.

The report also provides a plan for

moving forward.

This is something that the administration

has talked about, it’s definitely on a

lot of people’s minds. Probably the most

important part of this USDA report is

their strategic action plan. They’re outlining

some of the key priorities, which

is full broadband deployment in addition

to creating an environment for these innovations

to be created.

********

Market Facilitation Program for

2019, authorized under the Commodity

Credit Corporation Charter Act

and administered by the Farm Service

Agency, will provide $14.5 billion in

direct payments to producers.

Producers of alfalfa hay, barley,

canola, corn, crambe, dry peas, extralong

staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils,

long grain and medium grain rice,

mustard seed, dried beans, oats, peanuts,

rapeseed, safflower, sesame seed,

small and large chickpeas, sorghum,

soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate

japonica rice, upland cotton, and

wheat will receive a payment based

on a single county rate multiplied by

a farm’s total plantings to those crops

in aggregate in 2019. Those per acre

payments are not dependent on which

of those crops are planted in 2019, and

therefore will not distort planting decisions.

Moreover, total payment-eligible

plantings cannot exceed total 2018

plantings.

Dairy producers will receive a per

hundredweight payment on production

history and hog producers will receive a

payment based on hog and pig inventory

for a later-specified time frame.

Tree nut producers, fresh sweet

cherry producers, cranberry producers,

and fresh grape producers will receive a

payment based on 2019 acres of production.

These payments will help farmers

to absorb some of the additional costs

of managing disrupted markets, to deal

with surplus commodities, and to expand

and develop new markets at home

and abroad.

Payments will be made in up to three

tranches, with the second and third

tranches evaluated as market conditions

and trade opportunities dictate. The

first tranche will begin in late July/early

August as soon as practical after Farm

Service Agency crop reporting is completed

by July 15. If conditions warrant,

the second and third tranches will be

made in November and early January.

Ron Kern is the director of the Ogle

County Farm Bureau

Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

13


Illinois study advances possibility of genetic

control for major agricultural weeds

URBANA – Waterhemp and

Palmer amaranth, two aggressive

weeds that threaten the food supply

in North America, are increasingly

hard to kill with commercially available

herbicides. A novel approach known as

genetic control could one day reduce

the need for these chemicals. Now,

scientists are one step closer.

In a study published today in Weed

Science, researchers from the University

of Illinois identified genetic signatures that distinguish

male waterhemp and Palmer amaranth plants from females. The

discovery is a crucial part of developing a genetic control system

for the damaging weeds.

The researchers’ goal is to one day introduce genetically

modified male plants into a population to mate with wild females.

Modified male plants would contain a gene drive, a segment of

DNA coding for maleness, which would be passed on to all its

offspring, and their offspring, and so on. Ultimately, all plants

in a given population would become male, reproduction would

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cease, and populations would crash.

It’s a controversial strategy, but Pat

Tranel, the U of I scientist leading the

project, says they’re still in the very

early stages.

“It’s important to emphasize that we

are not at the point of releasing genetically

modified waterhemp and Palmer.

We are doing basic research that could

inform how we could do that,” says

Tranel, professor and associate head of

the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural,

Consumer and Environmental Sciences at U of I.

He adds that the team hasn’t found the specific gene or genes

for maleness in either species. Instead, they identified small

genetic sequences associated with a male region, presumably

on a particular chromosome. They think the specific gene(s) for

maleness lies somewhere within that region.

In the study, the researchers grew 200 plants of each species

and each sex, then extracted DNA and determined whether any

sequences were unique to a given sex.

“We found sequences present in waterhemp and Palmer males

that were not found in females, but no female-specific sequences.

Then we took known males from other populations and looked

for the sequences – they were there,” Tranel says. “Our sequences

not only worked, they confirmed males are the heterogametic sex

in these plants,” Tranel says.

In humans, males have an X and a Y chromosome, and male

gametes, sperm, contribute either an X or a Y to the next generation.

Females have two X chromosomes, and every egg carries an

X. Males are heterogametic; females, homogametic. Similarly,

male waterhemp and Palmer amaranth plants produce pollen

with either the male-specific Y region or not.

See WEEDS page 16

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14 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


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15

TFHARVEST2019


WEEDS: Genetic sequences can

accurately identify males before flowering

From page 14

“The fact that males are the heterogametic

sex suggests that maleness is

dominant. That’s good in that it’s easier

to control the trait (maleness) if the gene

for that trait is dominant,” Tranel explains.

“When we get to the point of identifying

the specific genes for maleness, they would

be an obvious target for a gene drive where

you could spread that maleness gene in

the population.”

In the meantime, however, having a set

of genetic sequences that can accurately

identify males before flowering could

help the researchers better understand the

biology of the plants and their response

to the environment. For example, Tranel

says the discovery could help determine if

the weeds are able to switch sexes under

certain conditions or if one sex is more

“I’d never see this as replacing all our

other strategies. But it’s super cool to

imagine this as part of the solution.”

sensitive to herbicides. Both concepts

have been proposed by previous research

or anecdotal reports.

In addition to pursuing these basic

questions, Tranel’s team is now working

to find the needle in the haystack: the

maleness gene within the male region.

When they find it, it will take time before

genetic control of waterhemp and Palmer

amaranth could become a reality. And even

then, Tranel says it will still be important

to use all the tools in the weed management

toolbox.

Pat Tranel

“I’d never see this as replacing all our

other strategies,” he says. “But it’s super

cool to imagine this as part of the solution.”

The article, “Sex-specific markers for

waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus)

and Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri),”

is published in Weed Science [DOI:

10.1017/wsc.2019.27]. Authors include

Jacob Montgomery, Ahmed Sadeque,

Darci Giacomini, Patrick Brown, and

Patrick Tranel. Funding was provided by

the USDA National Institute of Food and

Agriculture.

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16 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


Because your farm

is much more than land

and structures.

Along with serving as a parent volunteer, Jeanette Mingus

spent time assisting in setting up exhibits at the 2019 Ogle

County Fair.

Helping behind

the scenes

Your farm is your livelihood, your passion,

your purpose and your family’s future.

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BY MONETTA YOUNG

JEANETTE Mingus

has been serving as

a parent volunteer

for the past 12 years. She

participated in 4H as a

youth but never felt that it

was the right fit for her.

She is the club leader

for the Kings and Queens

4-H Club and has one

child in the Clovers 4-H

Club.

In the summer time,

Mingus is busy assisting

in set up of the projects

in the Exhibit Building.

Her official title is Assistant

Superintendent of

the Exhibit Building. The

exhibit building houses

all general projects from

poster displays, visual

arts and more.

There are 15 clubs in

Ogle County for kids to

be involved in. There are

currently 358 members

registered in Ogle County.

Most members who have

been active remain active

for a year after graduating

from high school.

“After high school,

many of them become

adult volunteers,” said

Mingus. “It is good to see

them mentoring younger

members and helping to

plan for the fair.”

Her favorite parts of

the fair are seeing the

look on the faces of children

who are seeing animals

for the first time and

watching the transition of

the fair buildings as they

prepare for fair week. It

takes a lot of hours to

make the fair happen.

For the projects in the

exhibit building, they get

judged one by one with

the judge and the creator

(4-H member) having a

conversation. Sometimes

it might not be the most

polished project in the

group, but the member

has extensive knowledge

about the project. Members

are not segregated by

gender for any project.

See HELP page 18

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TFM2017P

Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

17


HELP: Setting the scene

From page 17

There are 53 divisions in

the project handbook with

multiple classes in each division.

It’s not just cooking,

sewing and farm animals

anymore.

Judges are community

members, many are repeaters

in the judging field. They are

often recommended by friends

of the fair and asked to volunteer.

The judges are utilized

according to their knowledge

and interests. Absentee judging

is also available for members

who cannot be at the fair

for one reason or another.

If you missed the fair this

year, be sure to mark your

calendar for the 2020 fair.

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18 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


Yield-boosting stay-green gene identified

from 118-year-old experiment in corn

URBANA – A corn gene identified

from a 118-year-old experiment at the

University of Illinois could boost yields

of today’s elite hybrids with no added

inputs.

The gene, identified in a recent Plant

Biotechnology Journal study, controls a

critical piece of senescence, or seasonal

die-back, in corn. When the gene is turned

off, field-grown elite hybrids yielded 4.6

bushels more per acre on average than

standard plants.

Dating back to 1896, the Illinois experiment

was designed to test whether corn grain composition

could be changed through artificial selection, a relatively

new concept introduced by Charles Darwin just 37 years

earlier. Repeated selection of high- and low-protein corn

lines had the intended effect within about 10 generations.

As selection for the traits continued, however, additional

changes were noticeable.

Photo, dated 1919, from long-term

experiment, with seeds from both

corn varieties. (Photo by Lauren D.

Quinn)

“One of the things that was noted

as early as the 1930s was that the lowprotein

line stays greener longer than

the high-protein line. It’s really obvious,”

says Stephen Moose, professor in the Department

of Crop Sciences at Illinois and

co-author of the study.

Staying green longer into the season

can mean more yield. The plant continues

photosynthesizing and putting energy

toward developing grain. But, until now,

no one knew the specific gene responsible

for the stay-green trait in corn.

“The stay-green trait is like a ‘fountain of youth’ for plants

because it prolongs photosynthesis and improves yield,”

says Anne Sylvester, a program director at the National

Science Foundation, which funded this research. “This is

a great basic discovery with practical impact.”

See YIELD page 21

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TFH2018

Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

19


A summer tradition

BY ANDREW HEISERMAN

STAFF WRITER

FOR many families in the

Midwest, sweet corn is a

staple food during the summer

months. One family farm has been

supplying both residents and businesses

with homegrown sweet corn for nearly

30 years.

Rainwater Farms owners, Raymond

and Brenda Rainwater, started selling

their homegrown sweet corn through

roadside stands in 1990. When they first

began they operated three different stands

around the region, but since have focused

their attention on two stands and supplying

grocery stores.

“When my kids were in high school,

we started selling sweet corn as a way

to make money for college,” explained

Brenda Rainwater. “Now we have two

stands, one on farm at 17557 Twombly

Road just north of Rochelle and also

on IL Route 64 in the middle of Kings,

and then we supply all of Schnuck’s in

Rockford, Woodman’s in Rockford and

Janesville and the Super Valu warehouse

in Champaign.”

Along with the two stands near Rochelle

and the grocery stores, Rainwater

Farms also sends sweetcorn to Hinckley,

Franklin Grove and Paw Paw. The stands

offer either all yellow sweet corn or

bi-colored sweet corn. All yellow has a

much longer history, but bi-colored has

become very popular in recent years.

Brenda is a die-hard yellow fan because

it brings her back to the old days,

but the younger workers on the farm tend

to prefer the bi-colored.

“I like the bi-colored because it tastes

a little sweeter in my opinion,” said Zack

Bernardin, Rainwater farm worker.

Originally, the Rainwaters would

plant a variety of seeds out of the seed

corn books, but through many years of

taste testing two types of seeds stood out

and the family has stuck with them ever

since.

“Part of what we do here is we pride

ourselves on a superior product. The seed

that we plant is the best that you can get

and we spray the crops to protect them

from worms and other insects,” explained

Jeff Rainwater.

The cost of sweet corn seed is nearly

three times the price of field corn, with

two and a half acres of sweet corn costing

nearly $1,200 worth of seed compared

to $350-400 for field corn.

The family takes all factors into consideration

in order to offer their customers

the quality product they have come

to know and love. Former customers

who have left town even make sure to

stop by whenever they return to Rochelle.

“I had a lady come from Florida that

said she couldn’t wait to get back to our

corn when she came to visit. Or people

will ask us how we ship our corn because

they have relatives out in California

that want it,” Brenda Rainwater said.

Rainwater Farms sweet corn stands

are open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

mid-July through August as long as there

isn’t pouring rains or extreme winds

stopping them from harvesting the fields.

“If you haven’t tried our corn, then

you don’t know what you are missing,”

Rainwater Farms sweet corn stands are open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. mid-

July through August as long as there isn’t pouring rains or extreme winds stopping

them from harvesting the fields.

20 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


YIELD: Gene sequenced to find mutation

From page 19

The discovery of the gene was made possible

through a decade-long public-private

partnership between Illinois and Corteva

Agriscience. Moose and Illinois collaborators

initially gave Corteva scientists access to

a population derived from the long-term corn

protein experiment with differences in the

stay-green trait. Corteva scientists mapped

the stay-green trait to a particular gene,

NAC7, and developed corn plants with low

expression for the trait. Like the low-protein

parent, these plants stayed green longer. They

tested these plants in greenhouses and fields

across the country over two field seasons.

Not only did corn grow just fine without

NAC7, yield increased by almost 5 bushels

per acre compared to conventional hybrids.

Notably, the field results came without added

nitrogen fertilizer beyond what farmers

typically use.

“Collaborating with the University of

Illinois gives us the opportunity to apply

leading-edge technology to one of the

“They had no way of knowing then

that we could one day identify genes

controlling these unique traits.”

longest running studies in plant genetics,”

says Jun Zhang, research scientist at Corteva

Agriscience and co-author of the study. “The

insights we derive from this relationship can

result in more bushels without an increase

in input costs, potentially increasing both

profitability and productivity for farmers.”

Moose’s team then sequenced the NAC7

gene in the high- and low-protein corn

lines and were able to figure out just how

the gene facilitates senescence and why it

stopped working in the low-protein corn.

“We could see exactly what the mutation

was. It seems to have happened sometime

in the last 100 years of this experiment,

and fortunately has been preserved so that

we can benefit from it now,” Moose says.

Stephen Moose

He can’t say for sure when the mutation

occurred, because in the 1920s crop sciences

faculty threw out the original seed

from 1896.

“They had no way of knowing then that

we could one day identify genes controlling

these unique traits. But we have looked in

other corn and we don’t find this mutation,”

Moose says.

Future potential for this innovation

could include commercialized seed with

no or reduced expression of NAC7, giving

farmers the option for more yield without

additional fertilizer inputs.

Moose emphasizes the advancement

couldn’t have happened without both partners

coming to the table.

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Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

21


New farmers.gov feature helps producers

find farm loans that fit their operation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new online tool can

help farmers and ranchers find information on U.S.

Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm loans that

may best fit their operations. USDA has launched

the new Farm Loan Discovery Tool as the newest

feature on farmers.gov, the Department’s self-service

website for farmers.

“Access to credit is critical in the agriculture industry,

especially for new farmers,” said Bill Northey,

Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.

“This new interactive tool can help farmers find

information on USDA farm loans within minutes.

We are working to improve our customer service,

and part of our solution is through improving how

farmers can work with us online.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a

variety of loan options to help farmers finance their

operations. From buying land to financing the purchase

of equipment, FSA loans can help. Compared

to this time last year, FSA has seen an 18 percent

increase in the amount it has obligated for direct farm

ownership loans, and through the 2018 Farm Bill,

has increased the limits for several loan products.

USDA conducted field research in eight states,

gathering input from farmers and FSA farm loan

staff to better understand their needs and challenges.

“We received suggestions from both farmers and

our staff on how to improve the farm loan process,

and we wanted to harness this opportunity to be more

efficient and effective,” Northey said. “This feature

is one step in our efforts.”

How the Tool Works

Farmers who are looking for financing options to

operate a farm or buy land can answer a few simple

questions about what they are looking to fund and how

much money they need to borrow. After submitting

their answers, farmers will be provided information

on farm loans that best fit their specific needs. The

loan application and additional resources also will

be provided.

Farmers can download application quick guides

that outline what to expect from preparing an application

to receiving a loan decision. There are four

guides that cover loans to individuals, entities, and

youth, as well as information on microloans. The

guides include general eligibility requirements and

a list of required forms and documentation for each

type of loan. These guides can help farmers prepare

before their first USDA service center visit with a

loan officer.

Farmers can access the Farm Loan Discovery

Tool by visiting farmers.gov/fund and clicking the

“Start” button. Follow the prompts and answer five

simple questions to receive loan information that is

applicable to your agricultural operation. The tool

is built to run on any modern browser like Chrome,

Edge, Firefox, or the Safari browser, and is fully

functional on mobile devices. It does not work in

Internet Explorer.

About Farmers.gov

In 2018, USDA unveiled farmers.gov, a dynamic,

mobile-friendly public website combined with an

authenticated portal where farmers will be able to

apply for programs, process transactions, and manage

accounts.

The Farm Loan Discovery Tool is one of many

resources on farmers.gov to help connect farmers to

information that can help their operations. Earlier this

year, USDA launched the My Financial Information

feature, which enables farmers to view their loan

information, history, payments, and alerts by logging

into the website.

USDA is building farmers.gov for farmers, by

farmers. In addition to the interactive farm loan

features, the site also offers a Disaster Assistance

Discovery Tool. Farmers can visit farmers.gov/recover/disaster-assistance-tool#step-1

to find disaster

assistance programs that can help their operation

recover from natural disasters.

With feedback from customers and field employees

who serve those customers, farmers.gov delivers

farmer-focused features through an agile, iterative

process to deliver the greatest immediate value to

America’s agricultural producers – helping farmers

and ranchers do right, and feed everyone.

For more information or to locate your USDA

Service Center, visit farmers.gov.

22 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019


STEER: Some strength in prices

can be anticipated for 2020

From page 4

Prices for finished cattle have been about $1 lower so far

this year compared to the same period last year, based on

USDA’s five-area direct cattle prices. In 2018 those prices

averaged near $117. USDA’s current forecast is for a 2019

average of $115.50. Using futures prices after the report

and a historic basis has the annual average near $116 for

the year.

Some strength in prices can be anticipated for 2020 with

the small increase in beef production and potential strength

in exports. USDA’s July forecast is for finished steer prices

to rise to near $119 in 2020. The futures market forecast

(using historic basis) was not as optimistic immediately

following the report at $117.

Kentucky steer calves weighing 500 to 550

pounds averaged in the mid-$150 range in 2018 and

are expected to average in the higher $140s this year

as a result of slightly weaker finished cattle prices and

higher feed costs. For 2020, calf prices are expected to

rise into the lower $150s for these same Kentucky calves.

These price levels are unlikely to provide brood cow producers

with the financial incentives to continue the recent

five-year expansion.

“Two additional reasons for brood cow producers to

not make major changes in herd size now are the ongoing

trade uncertainties and the impact of 2019 weather on feed

and forage supplies and prices,” Hurt concludes.

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Rochelle News-Leader

The Ogle County Life

23


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24 Today’s Farm - Fall/Winter 2019

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