Corn planting is nearly complete and Iowa State’s Bob Wisner estimates a 2 million acre reduction in corn plantings vs. USDA’s March intentions report. His reasons include:

1) The considerable increase in the soybean/corn price ratio since the March survey.
2) Up to 1.5 million acres of the WCB was under water and is beyond the best planting date.
3) Shortages of the best hybrid seed corn varieties will reduce interest in corn acres.
4) High fertilizer prices will make corn production more expensive and cut revenue.

Even with reasons to plant more beans, Extension’s Wisner doubts it will happen:
1) New-crop corn prices remain much higher than in recent years.
2) The high insured revenue from crop revenue insurance policies favors corn planting.
3) In some cases, herbicide applications may also restrict the ability to shift to soybeans.

Bob Wisner at Iowa State says dropping the yield to 149 bu. and reducing acreage by 2 million acres would cut the projected ending carryover to a 2-week supply. But he says, “It is unlikely that the actual carryover would be that low. More likely, the lower acreage and yield would increase corn prices enough to ration out 300-400 mil. bu. of demand.”

The price decline following the February highs illustrates the existence of downside price risk, says Outlook Specialist Melvin Brees of the University of Missouri. “Lower prices could occur if production meets expectations and large trading funds continue to liquidate their long futures positions. The anticipa¬tion of large corn production and limited storage availability suggests weak harvest time basis as well.”

Missouri’s Melvin Brees says, “Market plans should be adjusted to reflect changes in production expectations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding sales. Plans should remain in place to make sales that capture profitable prices. If production concerns limit the amount of sales that can comfortably be made using cash contracts, other strategies can be used to protect prices.” Read more of Brees’ Decisive Marketing newsletter: http://www.fapri.missouri.edu...pdf.

This is weird, but Iowa and USDA officials say there is no more evidence of soybean rust in Iowa last year, other than one leaf found in a grain bin. Nothing else in the bin, nor in the harvested field, nor in any neighboring fields. They have called in USDA’s Office of the Inspector General to get to the bottom of this mystery near Oskaloosa, IA.

Corn rootworms may be hatching this weekend. Illinois Extension entomologists say in most years, the annual hatch occurs near the end of May or early June. The estimated dates of corn rootworm larval hatch for central Illinois over the past 11 years range from May 16 to about June 1. Within a day or so they will be picnicking on your corn roots.

Bug Roundup. With young plants growing in your field, bugs are finding tasty treats:

1) European corn borer moths are being found in southern counties of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
2) Wireworm damage is necessitating replanting, despite premium seed treatments.
3) Japanese beetle grubs usually cause little economic damage, except in dry soils.
4) Grape colaspis larvae eat corn root hairs, prevent water uptake and turn plants purple.
5) Armyworms are on the march in some areas, leaving wheat for more tender corn.

Insect-induced defoliation can significantly delay soybean canopy development, which provides more sunlight for weeds to grow and compete with the crop, directly affecting your subsequent weed management plans. Nebraska weed specialists say soybeans with 30-60% of insect damage do actually have a shorter weed control window and potentially fewer weed control options. Spraying an insecticide to control bean leaf beetles may actually widen the herbicide application window and increase weed control options.

If your herbicide label suggests higher rates “if weeds are under adverse environmental conditions,” that generally means dry soil or low air temperatures. But Illinois weed specialist Aaron Hager says high relative humidity, adequate soil moisture and moderate to warm air temperatures all favor enhanced herbicide absorption. And if those conditions favor rapid herbicide absorption into weeds, crops will soak it up also, resulting in injury. Visit: http://www.ipm.uiuc.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=736 for an environmental chart.

Corn trying to grow in dry soil faces a number of challenges, says Extension’s Emerson Nafziger. Read his analysis at: http://www.ipm.uiuc.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=740.

1) When the seed draws moisture, it will create its own capsule of dryness around it.
2) Seeds that began the germination process, then dried out, will not be able to restart.
3) Soils tilled too wet have clods that may have water inside, but unavailable to any plant.
4) “Floppy” corn with poor nodal roots initially grew fast, with the crown above the soil.
5) Purple corn may indicate poor growth from dryness and a sugar build up in the stem.

USDA’s latest cattle on feed report put the inventory at 11.30 million, down 2.3% from 2006 with net April placements at 1.47 million head down 4.4%. Nebraska Extension’s Darrel Mark says, “Cattle supplies may be a little tighter in the upcoming months than thought. This would be supportive to prices in early summer as the market approaches its seasonal low. Look for fed cattle prices to average close to $90/cwt for the summer quarter.”

If DDGS are available and economical, new research at the University of Illinois indicates they can be fed up to 35% to nursery and growing-finishing pigs, but a 20% rate is the maximum for finishing diets. That is the conclusion of a comprehensive report on swine diets at: http://www.livestocktrail.uiuc.edu...pdf.

The Extension Update on Central Illinois Agriculture is e-mailed on Friday to selected subscribers and is also on the Internet (at http://www.extension.uiuc.edu/macon/agupdate/index.html and at www.farmgate.uiuc.edu.) It is created weekly by former Extension Specialist Stu Ellis, who remains reachable at: shellis@uiuc.edu.