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The 2013 growing season is turning out to be a record setter

The 2013 growing and harvest seasons are nearing completion.

As of Nov. 24, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported the Illinois corn harvest has reached 98 percent completion.

At the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center we are in the small percentage that still has corn in the field. We hope to finish this weekend if weather and equipment cooperate, and look forward to sharing research data generated this year.

Despite early and late season challenges, this growing season is turning out to be a record setter. The corn yield in Illinois is currently forecast at 180-bushels-per-acre, 15 bushels above the September estimate.

Northwest and northeast Illinois have predicted yields of 184 to 187 bushels per acre, respectively. If the overall state yield is realized it will tie record yield set in 2004, and would be the third highest in history.

Production is currently forecast at 2.11 billion bushels, an increase of 64 percent over the 2012 drought year. Illinois soybeans are forecast at 49 bushels per acre, 3 bushels above the September forecast and a 20 percent increase over 2012.

Our emphasis all spring and summer has been on producing a crop. Now some reminders on safely storing the crop. This is pertinent to the higher moisture corn harvested and stored in northern Illinois.

For those who have high moisture corn in on-farm storage, cold is a good thing! For long-term storage, corn should be dried to 15 percent moisture and held at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This prevents most mold growth and insect activity in the grain.

Some level of mold growth should be expected when moisture content is above 16.5 percent and the grain temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. As fungal organisms metabolize the starches in the grain, heat is generated accelerating fungal growth and further increasing grain temperatures. Higher moisture corn can be stored short term if properly cooled. For example, a chart provided by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers shares that corn at 22 percent moisture has a “shelf life” of 17 days at 60 degrees, 38 days at 50 degrees and 85 days at 40 degrees.

When harvest is complete and the bins are full, don’t forget to continue monitoring stored grain monthly for signs of heating. A grain probe is best for sampling, but if unavailable turn on the aeration fan and lean into the access hatch. If the air hitting your face feels warmer than expected, or you detect a musty odor, or if condensation is present on the bin roof on a cold day, run the fan long enough to push a temperature front through the bin. If the bin is equipped with a stirring system run two or three rounds to break up hot spots and to equalize the moisture throughout in the grain mass.

Never enter a bin that is being emptied without adequate safety precautions in place.

For those making selection decisions on 2014 corn hybrid and soybean varieties, the Illinois Variety Testing website can be a helpful resource.

The University of Illinois Variety Testing program began in 1934 and conducts annual crop performance tests to provide farmers, and private seed companies with information on hybrids and varieties of the major Illinois field crops. The trials are conducted in a research-based manner to minimize variability and insure the integrity of the results.

Performance reports available include commercial corn, conventional and roundup resistant soybeans, forage crops, wheat and sorghum. The corn and soybean variety trials are divided into the northern, west central, east central and southern regions. Results are downloadable at

The winter meeting season will soon be starting, future University of Illinois programs in Northern Illinois and informational URL’s include:

Private Pesticide Licenses

Training and testing – Tuesday (Check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m.), to be held at Celebrations 150 Ltd., 740 E U.S. Route 6, Utica. Training will from 8 to 11:30 a.m.  Pre-registration is required for all training and testing clinics. Cost is $30 for the training. (This does not include the IDOA license fee). Testing will begin immediately following training at 11:45 a.m. and will end at 2 p.m. Participants may bring a lunch. No lunch will be provided at the site. Registration can take place online at or call 877-626-1650 (toll free).

Testing only – Dec. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m., to be held at the University of Illinois Extension – Bureau County Office, 850 Thompson St., Princeton. To register, call the University of Illinois Extension-Bureau County Office at 815-875-2878. No charge.

2013 Farm Economics Summit — Dec. 17, held in Sycamore at Center for Agriculture. For more information, visit

2014 Corn and Soybean Classic — Jan. 15, held in Malta at Kishwaukee College. For more information, visit

Several additional programs that should be added to the 2014 calendar include the 2014 Northern Illinois Crop Management Conference on Feb. 12 and 13.

Also, a Western Corn rootworm management discussion with University of Illinois entomologists Joe Spencer and Mike Gray in late February. This meeting should provide insights to producers in the Bureau and LaSalle County areas who experienced rootworm management issues on traited and untraited hybrids this year. Additional meeting information will be forthcoming on these two events.

Russ Higgins is from the University of Illinois Extension, Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center.

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