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University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classic provides latest information to area producersqrcode

Jan. 18, 2011

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Jan. 18, 2011

Eighty-nine percent of farmers surveyed Thursday at the Quincy session of the University of Illinois Corn and Soybean Classic at the Holiday Inn intend to plant the hybrids, engineered to suppress European corn borer and reduce yield losses. Of those, 65 percent intend to plant the recommended 20 percent structured refuge to help avoid insect resistance problems.

The planting intention result for the Quincy session was lower than percentages reported at other Classic sessions, including the 99 percent in Moline and 94 percent in Mount Vernon, but statewide, the number of farmers planning to use the hybrids remains high despite concerns about low insect pressure, seed cost and refuge, or non-Bt hybrids posting higher yields, said Michael Gray, university professor and interim assistant dean.

The numbers were no surprise to New Canton farmer Edwin Harpole.

"That's the trend we're seeing," Harpole said.

Another trend is changes in refuge requirements to manage resistance insects. Some farmers are shifting to a 5 percent refuge, rather than 20 percent, or are opting for refuge-in-a-bag, or a blend of Bt and non-Bt seed.

Harpole and other area farmers turned out for Thursday's Classic, which featured U of I speakers on a variety of crop production and pest management topics for corn and soybean. The Quincy session was the last of seven across the state.

"I came just to learn, to see what's coming down the road," Harpole said.

One upcoming challenge may be dealing with a pathogenic nematode in cornfields.

Terry Niblack, a professor and nematologist in the U of I Department of Crop Sciences, said a corn nematode survey found 84 percent of the state's field infested with the lesion nematode.

"We were surprised," Niblack said. "Now we have to figure out how pathogenic are they, who's really at risk. We have a lot of work to do yet."

Changing production practices have made it more likely for nematodes to become problems for corn producers.

No-till practices encourage a buildup of nematodes in the soil, and with most farmers using Bt hybrids, they no longer apply soil insecticide. Producing more corn after corn also gives nematodes, which have a long life cycle, more opportunity to build up in fields.

Producers can find success with foliar fungicides for crops, but "the most consistent profitability comes from when we have a lot of disease pressure," said Carl Bradley, assistant professor of plant pathology and Extension specialist.

New concerns with a strain of frogeye leaf spot resistant to strobilurin fungicides have Bradley making recommendations to plant resistant varieties to avoid having to apply fungicide to the soybean crop, and if using a fungicide, to incorporate more than one mode of action to avoid resistance.

"We want to only apply fungicide based on disease pressure or threat of disease. That will help keep them around longer and slow down the spread of fungicide resistance," he said.

Vince Davis, assistant professor of soybean production systems and Extension specialist, stressed seeding rates in soybean.

"The economics of today's costs have us in the range of 120,000 to 140,000 seeding rate," Davis said. "The conservative estimate is we want to establish 100,000 plants per acre."



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