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Wisconsin Value-Added Producer Grants

The USDA announcing $1.69 million in Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants for 15 Wisconsin businesses.  The program helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products.  The grants are part of the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.  A total of $25 million is being granted to 247 businesses in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia.

Grant recipients in Wisconsin are:

  • Heartland Cooperative Services, Dorchester: $200,000 to be used for value?added marketing activities associated with expanding the sales of omega?3 milk for omega?3 cheese.
  • Sweet Mountain Farm LLC, Washington Island: $10,000 to be used to brand and market organic honey to a new customer demographic for labor, packaging, labeling, certification, branding and promotional expenses.
  • Jeth Farms, LLC, Wittenberg: $200,000 to be used for processing and marketing activities associated with dehydrated potatoes for pet food. Grant funds are expected to increase sales by over $1.6 million and create at least one full time and three part time jobs in central Wisconsin.
  • Three Brothers Farm, LLC, Oconomowoc: $99,792 to be used to support working capital and marketing funds to process and market local vegetables, eggs and artisan meats to selected markets in Southeast Wisconsin.
  • MacFarlane Pheasants LLC, Janesville: $200,000 to be used as a working capital grant to expand the sales of Mature French Redleg Partridges.  This would allow them to increase revenues.
  • Penterman Creamery, LLC, Thorp: $200,000 to be used for the value added processing and marketing activities associated with Marieke Golden Cheese with the end goal of expanding sales and marketing. 
  • Equinox Community Farm LLC, Waunakee: $20,270 to be used for working capital for the development of a canned products community supported agriculture product line. Products include a wide variety of seasonal vegetable and fruit products that are marketed through CSA, farmer’s markets, and local farm?to?table restaurants.
  • 3 River Orchards, LLC $49,999 to be used to determine feasibility o fproducing and processing Aronia berries for a “superfood” product line that would increase Aronia product profitability and be marketed as a locally?produced in Wisconsin.
  • Austin’s Rush Creek Farm, LLC, Ferryville: $20,900 to be used to pay operating cost to produce market and distribute dilled beans from fresh green beans.
  • Meuer Farm LLC, Chilton: $37,500 to be used for working capital to produce, package, label, and market value?added products made from black walnuts, hickory nuts, honey strawberries and oats grown on the farm into healthy snacks, such as granola bars and mixed roasted nut snacks.
  • Paul Burkhouse dba Foxtail Farm, Osceola: $47,500 to will be used to pay for labor, packaging and input cost associated with production of value added goods marketed through a Winter CSA. The cost will include marketing, packing and delivery cost of the value added product.
  • Westby Cooperative Creamery $200,000 to will be used to expand the product line and market into organic Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has about double the protein and a much different nutritional profile compared to regular yogurt. Organic Greek yogurt offers higher margins and prices, positively impacting the sustainability of this 111 year old farmer Co?op.
  • Spirit Lakes Native Products $35,000 to will be used to hire independent contractors to conduct a feasibility study and develop a business plan for a cooperative of independent Native American maple syrup producers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
  • Fifth Season Cooperative, Viroqua: $197,696 to be used to support custom processing, labor, and other working capital and marketing needs as it expands its IQF (individually quick frozen) vegetable blends to institutional market channels. The Fifth Season Cooperative is a multi?stakeholder cooperative with six membership classes representing the entire value added chain – from the producers, to the processors, to transportation, and to the institutional buyers in southwest Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, and southeastern Minnesota.
  • Shepard Song Farms, LLC, Downing: $175,000 to be used to increase market penetration and profits utilizing undervalued adult, grass fed cull sheep. Instead of sending grass fed animals into the low?value cull commodity market, mutton will be turned into high value sausages, jerky sticks, cooked gyro meats, braunschweiger, prosciutto, fajita strips, and spiced patties for the restaurant and consumer mail order markets. The grant will help to increase inventory, production, quality control, packaging, labeling,

A complete list of all USDA grants available here:

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NRC studying genetically engineered crops

The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC) is conducting a two-year study of genetically engineered crops.  The NRC will look at the development and introduction of GE crops in the U.S. and globally.  Through a broad study of available information, the committee will “review the scientific foundation of current environmental and food safety assessments for GE crops and foods.”

They will assess the purported negative effects of the crops including the impact on farmers in developing countries and the evolution of so-called “super weeds”.  The study will also look at the purported positive effects including reduced pesticide use and soil conservation through reduced tillage

As part of the process, the NRC will conduct a public meeting in Washington D.C. in September to gather input from supporters and opponents of genetically engineered crops.

The study started last March; a report will be formulated and delivered to policymakers by the spring of 2016 “in the context of the world’s current and projected food and agricultural system.”  Derivatives of the report will also be made public.

The study is sponsored by the New Venture Fund, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research.


The National Research Council, created under the NAS charter in 1916 by executive order of President Woodrow Wilson, extended the scope of the NAS in its advisory role.

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Milk production jumped in July

Milk production in the U.S. in July totaled 17.5 billion pounds up 3.9 percent from July of 2013.  This is the largest year-over-year increase of 2014.  The dairy herd added 37,000 head and production per cow increased 64 pounds to average 1,882 per head.  The U.S. dairy herd grew by 5,000 from June.

Milk production in the 23 major dairy states was up 4 percent to 16.4 billion pounds, also the largest increase of the year.  Production per cow in those states increased 61 pounds from a year ago to 1,911, the highest for July since the report series began in 2003.  There were 8.58 million dairy cows in the 23 states an increase of 56,000 from last July and 6,000 more than in June.  20 of the 23 major dairy states had an increase while Minnesota, New Mexico and Oregon has slight decreases.

Despite the drought, California milk production continues to increase over year-ago levels.  The Golden State produced 3.5 billion pounds of milk in July up 4.4 percent from July of 2013.  The California dairy herd actually declined 2,000 head to 1.78 million but production per cow jumped 85 pounds to 1,980.

Wisconsin milk production was just under 2.4 billion pounds in July up 3.4 percent from July of last year.  The Badger State dairy herd declined by 2,000 to 1.27 million head but production per cow increased 65 pounds to 1,885.

Read the full NASS report here:

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Global Dairy Trade prices slightly lower

The semi-monthly Global Dairy Trade auction on Tuesday saw the overall price decline 0.6 percent compared to the August 5th sale.  This is the fourth consecutive decline and 11th in the last 12 sales.  However, it is the smallest decline in that stretch and could indicate the global market is nearing the bottom.

Prices were actually higher on some products: whole milk powder up 3.4 percent, anhydrous milkfat increased 3.6 percent and butter is up 4.9 percent from the last sale.  Rennet casein slipped 0.8 percent, butter milk powder was 2.5 percent lower, cheddar cheese fell 7.9 percent and skim milk powder dropped 12 percent.  No whey powder or lactose was offered for sale.

This is the lowest the overall price has been since August of 2012.

Read more here:

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Trotter joins Wisconsin DBA staff

The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA) has named Timothy Trotter as its new Executive Director of Business Affairs.   Trotter, who most recently served as manager of strategic planning for DuPage County, Illinois: previously served as president and chairman of the board for the National Corn Growers Association as well as the same positions for the Association for Strategic Planning in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the chief executive officer for Farmers Premium Produce, as well as the owner of Trotter Aker Farm, both based in Illinois.

Trotter will begin his DBA duties on September 1st.

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Wheat up on harvest delays

Soybeans were mostly lower, with September up on the tight supply and good demand. Development is running at or ahead of average and the crop condition rating improved slightly on the week. The trade expects a record crop this year, keeping the long term fundamentals bearish. Soybean meal was mixed, matching beans, and oil was lower on the generally lower tone in the complex, along with spillover from crude oil.

Corn was higher on technical buying and spillover from wheat. Growing conditions look good and corn development is running ahead of average, with the crop in very good shape. There was no real fresh supportive news, but contracts are starting to see new demand around current price levels. Ethanol futures were lower.

The wheat complex was higher on commercial and technical buying. Minneapolis led the way, with the spring wheat harvest behind average. Also, trade’s also watching weather in Europe and the situation in Ukraine, and expecting some new demand after the recent decline in price. Japan’s tendering for 146,900 tons of wheat from the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The German Farmers Association projects domestic wheat production at 26.2 million tons.

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Cattle futures and beef values were lower on Tuesday

The cash cattle market was not tested on Tuesday afternoon with both bids and asking prices poorly defined. A few feedlot managers have priced steers and heifers around 157.00 to 158.00 in the South, and 248.00 to 250.00 in the North. Significant trade volume will probably be delayed until late in the week. The kill totaled 115,000 head, 1,000 less than last week, and 10,000 smaller than a year ago.

Boxed beef cutout values were lower on light demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice boxed beef was down 2.19 at 252.91, and select was 2.66 lower at 243.91.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 40 to 132 points lower. The lack of developing support through the morning and a fear of further pressure was the main driver in the markets on Tuesday. Trader interest seemed very confident of turning markets higher in the early trade. However, a lack of follow through support and a quick reversal in feeder cattle futures quickly turned futures lower. August settled 1.10 lower at 150.50 and October was down 1.32 at 147.22.

Feeder cattle ended the session 87 to 237 points lower. Feeders experienced significant losses on Tuesday. The aggressive price swing through the complex was near $4.00 a hundredweight, following strong triple digit gains during overnight trade that eroded to triple digit losses in some contracts. Little has changed fundamentally in the market, with a momentum shift being the culprit that seemed to drive the market lower. August settled .87 lower at 217.15, and September was down 1.82 at 214.25.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Oklahoma National Stockyards on Monday totaled 4691 head. Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers were steady to 4.00 higher. Steer and heifer calves mostly 4.00 to 6.00 higher. Demand was moderate to good and improved some from last week. Quality was plain to average. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 771 pounds brought 220.49 per hundredweight. 688 pound heifers averaged 214.65.

Lean hogs settled 60 points higher to 27 lower with only the two front months in the red. Of all the livestock markets the lean trade was the most stable. The focus through the complex had less to do with any new information or shifts in pork values or cash hog prices, than it does the underlying pressure flooding into the market following cattle prices that do not seem to establish a foothold. This could continue to erode buyer support over the near term. October settled .27 lower at 94.82, and December was down .25 at 88.62.

There was slow hog market activity with light demand on Tuesday afternoon. The Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 2.30 lower at 99.54 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was down 2.19 at 99.56, and barrows and gilts in the East were not reported due to confidentiality. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was 2.00 to 3.00 lower from 95.00 to 98.00. Midwest hogs traded steady to instances of 2.00 and 3.00 lower from 67.00 to 80.00 live basis.

The pork carcass cutout value was 1.36 lower at 109.66 FOB plant. Bellies were lower and loins and ribs were higher.

Tuesday’s hog kill was estimated at 407,000 head, 1,000 less than last week, and down 25,000 from last year.

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Missouri rice growers to have field day

Rice growers will gather in southeast Missouri this Thursday for the Missouri Rice Research Station Annual Field Day.

An aquatic crop, rice is planted on about 200-thousand acres in Missouri.  Michael Aide, chair of the Department of Agriculture at Southeast Missouri State University, tells Brownfield the Delta Region is great for growing rice, “Because Missouri and some of our other states along the Mississippi River have such an abundance of ground water, when we have the growing season, we can grow some of the best rice in the world.”

Aide says the Mississippi River is also a key channel for shipping Missouri rice all over the world.

Thursday’s field day will cover production practices ranging from weed management to the latest technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to help increase farmers’ profitability, “Breeding. We breed rice in Missouri. New varieties. We have programs on how to avoid herbicide spray drift. We have new remote sensing technologies to be demonstrated. We’re looking at new tillage methods for rice.”

Aide says Southeast Missouri State has just gotten a drone for its research farm and is teaching students the technology.  He predicts all modern farmers will have UAVs/drones within the next 10 years.

The field event begins this Thursday morning at the Missouri Rice Research Farm near Malden, Missouri.

Interview with Dr. Michael Aide (8:00 mp3)

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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: August 19, 2014

Sep. corn closed at $3.62 and 1/2, up 1 and 3/4 cents
Sep. soybeans closed at $11.150 and 1/4, up 4 and 3/4 cents
Sep. soybean meal closed at $399.80, up $7.74
Sep. soybean oil closed at 32.66, down 30 points
Sep. wheat closed at $5.46, up 3 and 1/2 cents
Aug. live cattle closed at $150.50, down $1.10
Oct. lean hogs closed at $94.82, down 27 cents
Sep. crude oil closed at $94.48, down $1.93
Dec. cotton closed at 64.16, up 32 points
Sep. Class III milk closed at $22.85, up 42 cents
Aug. gold closed at $1,295.10, down $2.60
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 16,919.59, up 175.83 points

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More criticism of WOTUS

mcclaskey jackie-ks dept of agMore criticism of the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has handled its proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

Jackie McClaskey, secretary of agriculture for the state of Kansas, questions whether the EPA is listening to the ag community’s concerns.

“I think what’s been most frustrating is, as the agricultural voices have gotten louder and tried to provide more input in a very reasonable way, the approach we’ve gotten back from the feds is that, ‘well, you just don’t understand it’,” McClaskey says. “So there is really not an honest attempt to have a two-way communication—and that’s frustrating for us as we’re trying to represent agriculture in this discussion.”

McClaskey says the proposed rule is another example of federal overreach where, in her words “logic and common sense have gone out the window.”

AUDIO: Jackie McClaskey (6:34 MP3)

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PEDv/Feed study viewed with some caution

A study led by the director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services in Minnesota shows a link between contaminated animal feed and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in pigs.  The study was carried out on three farms in Iowa and Minnesota where PED was diagnosed early this year.

Richard Sellers with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) tells Brownfield Ag News they are concerned that this study might imply that feed is a cause of PEDv’s spread. He says, “This clarifies that feed is actually a carrier now. The source of how the virus got into the feed is not presented in the report. The authors DO make a point that there was no animal protein product in the feed.”

Sellers tells Brownfield Ag News there has been some blame by some sources placed on an animal protein product used in feed.  He tells Brownfield, “A number of the companies have done a number of studies to demonstrate that their products are indeed safe. There is always the potential for cross-contamination at any point in the feed distribution chain.”

Sellers says on-farm contamination of feed cannot be ruled out.  He says there are still many unknowns about the cause of PEDv and the AFIA along with the Institute for Feed Education and Research have pledged $100-thousand to the National Pork Board to further research.

Interview with Richard Sellers (4:00 mp3)

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Project LIBERTY nears start-up

project liberty 8-14Project LIBERTY, POET-DSM’s cellulosic ethanol plant at Emmetsburg, Iowa, is nearing the start-up of production.

According to a company news release, plant personnel are currently running biomass through the pretreatment process.  Once fully operational, Project LIBERTY will process 770 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk daily to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons annually.

POET-DSM officials say they plan to license their cellulosic production technology to companies across the U.S. and around the world.

Project LIBERTY will open its doors to the public at a Grand Opening Celebration on September 3rd.  The event will feature plant tours, a formal ceremony and more.

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Tuesday midday cash livestock markets

It will be a sleepy session in cattle country today with bids and asking prices poorly defined. A few showlists have been priced around 157.00 to 158.00 in the South, and 248.00 to 250.00 in the North. New showlists are smaller in Texas, Nebraska and Colorado. On the other hand, the Kansas offering is definitely larger. Overall, fed numbers seem to be a bit smaller and generally manageable.

Boxed beef cutout values are lower in the morning report. Choice beef is down .97 at 254.13, and select is .68 lower at 245.89.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Oklahoma National Stockyards on Monday totaled 4691 head. Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers were steady to 4.00 higher. Steer and heifer calves mostly 4.00 to 6.00 higher. Demand was moderate to good and improved some from last week. Cattle futures beginning to show some positive signs again as limited cattle numbers continue to drive demand. Quality was plain to average. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 771 pounds brought 220.49 per hundredweight. 688 pound heifers averaged 214.65.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota and Eastern direct trade areas are not reported due to confidentiality. The West is 1.75 lower at 100.50 weighted average on a carcass basis. Nationally the market is 1.11 lower at 100.38. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is 2.00 to 3.00 lower from 95.00 to 98.00. Hogs at Midwest markets are steady to an instance of 3.00 lower from 67.00 to 80.00.

The pork carcass value is down 1.05 FOB plant at 109.97.

The cash hog market continues to drop like a stone. Yesterday’s late rally in lean futures hardly altered the technical profile and probably amounted to no more than piecemeal profit taking.

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See For Yourself: The Port of Balboa

h2014-Don-Holbert-see-for-yourselfThe Port of Balboa is one of two ports located at each end of the Panama Canal and was the first stop for the USB’s See for Yourself tour yesterday.

Don Holbert farms in Eastern Tennessee and says he’s always known transportation is vital to the agriculture industry but says it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture once the grain leaves the his farm.

He tells Brownfield the trip through the Port of Balboa was eye-opening. “When you go on this trip and you see how far it has to go, and the size and scale of things,” he says.  “Then, when you see things happen on the news you have a better understanding of why things cost what they do to get them to a location.  You also understand why any hiccup in the supply chain really affects the entire supply chain.”

The Port of Balboa is ranked third in Latin America in the number of container units as 3.5 million containers pass through the port every year.  Balboa covers approximately 550 acres and 18 super post-Panamax ships.

AUDIO: Don Holbert, See For Yourself (3:30mp3)

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It’s still important to scout fields

Even at this point in the growing season, field scouting is important. Alex Johnson, Team Sales Agronomist for Beck’s Hybrids says for both the soybean crop and the corn crop there are some things going on that need watching.

Audio: Alex Johnson, Agronomist, Beck’s Hybrids (2:55 mp3)

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Nebraska’s crops right on schedule

Nebraska’s crops are developing pretty much on schedule.

As of Sunday, 78 percent of corn was in the dough stage or beyond, slightly ahead of the five-year average.  Twenty percent of the corn was dented, slightly behind average.

Eighty-nine percent of soybeans were setting pods or beyond, slightly ahead of average.  Sorghum coloring was 37 percent, well ahead of the seven percent average.  Dry beans setting pods stood at 86 percent, equal to the five-year average.

The good to excellent condition ratings for each crop were as follows: corn and soybeans, both 70 percent; sorghum, 60 percent; dry beans, 81 percent; and alfalfa hay, 60 percent.  Alfalfa hay third cutting was 68 percent complete, equal to the five-year average.

Range and pasture conditions stood at 48 percent good to excellent, 34 percent fair, and 18 percent poor to very poor.

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Slight decline in Iowa’s crop ratings

Below-average precipitation last week across much of Iowa caused a drop in soil moisture, especially in the northeastern part of the state.  As a result, there was a slight decline in the condition ratings for the state’s corn and soybean crops.

“Iowa saw some spotty precipitation again last week, but significant parts of the state have missed some of the recent rainfalls and are reaching the point where some moisture is needed,” says Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey.  “Crop conditions in much of the state remain very good, especially in areas that have received some timely rainfall.”

Corn rated 75 percent good to excellent, down one point from last week, while soybeans came in at 73 percent good to excellent, down two points from a week ago.

Seventy-five percent of Iowa’s corn was in the dough stage or beyond, eight days ahead of the five-year average, with 16 percent of the crop dented.  Eighty-eight percent of soybean crop was setting pods or beyond, slightly above average.  Oat harvest for grain was virtually complete.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay advanced to 36 percent complete.  Sixty-five percent of all hay was rated in good to excellent condition.  Pastures continued to deteriorate and rated 54 percent good to excellent.

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Wisconsin horse has WNV

Wisconsin has its first recorded case of equine West Nile Virus for the season.  An unvaccinated quarterhorse mare in St Croix County is recovering after being treated by a veterinarian.

State Vet Dr. Paul McGraw reminds horse owners that WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are spread by mosquitoes and the warmer weather of the last couple of weeks has spurred the population.  EEE kills about 90 percent of horses that it strikes, and WNV kills in more than a third of all equine cases.

Symptoms are similar for both diseases: depression, appetite loss, drooping eyelids and lower lip, fever, weakness, twitching, paralysis or lack of coordination, aimless wandering, circling and blindness.

Neither of the viruses is contagious between horses. While humans can become infected by both WNV and EEE, it does not pass between people and horses. Mosquitos biting warm-blooded animals is the only method of transmission.

Besides vaccination, McGraw recommends taking other steps to limit horse exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Remove items from surrounding property that could collect stagnant water such as old tires, tin cans, plastic containers.
  • Keep rain gutters clean and draining properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain water from pool covers.
  • Turn wading pools and wheelbarrows upside down when not in use.
  • Empty and replace water in birdbaths at least once a week.
  • Consider keeping horses in the barn from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.


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Iowa crops progressing nicely

Iowa’s corn crop is 75 percent dough up 20 points from last week and 20 points ahead of the five year average.  16 percent of the crop is dented up 9 points from a week ago but 9 points behind the five year average.  The crop is rated 75 percent good to excellent condition.

Iowa soybeans are 98 percent blooming, right at the five year average and up 2 points for the week.  88 percent are setting pods, 2 points ahead of normal for this date.  73 percent in good to excellent condition.

Iowa’s pastures are 54 percent good to excellent condition.

Read the full NASS report here:

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Crops look good in Illinois

Illinois corn crop is 86 percent dough up 9 points for the week and 10 points ahead of the five-year average.  The crop is 34 percent dented, double what it was a week ago but still 4 points behind the five year average.  The crop is rated 80 percent good to excellent.

Illinois soybeans are 96 percent blooming, up two points from last week and 1 point ahead of the five year average.  89 percent are setting pods, 10 points ahead of average.  78 percent in good to excellent condition.

Illinois pastures are 66 percent good to excellent condition.

Read the full NASS report here:



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