A Publication of WTVP

Farmers in Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties grow soybeans on approximately 350,000 acres every year. Soybeans are easily the No. 2 grain grown in the Peoria area, following corn by only a few thousand acres. With soybeans averaging 45 bushels to the acre, production in the tri-County region approaches 16 million bushels.

On a national level, U.S. farmers are growing soybeans on 76 million acres for 2001. With relatively good growing conditions, production could reach more than 3 billion bushels, an amount we’ve never seen.

Even with this high production, demand for soybeans is on the rise, and foreign countries find value in them as a high protein feed for livestock. Soybeans are also reaching grocery shelves as consumers find they lower cholesterol and can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

Next time you shop, check the ingredients on food items you’re purchasing. Chances are you’ll find soy products in cookies, crackers, salad dressings, margarine, bread, and a whole host of items in your shopping cart.

To help find more uses for soybeans, farmers contribute to a soybean checkoff. The checkoff is half of 1 percent of the value of soybeans the farmer sells.

For example, if a farmer sells 1,000 bushels of soybeans to the local grain elevator, half of 1 percent will automatically be deducted from their check. If the selling price was $6 a bushel, .03 cents for each bushel would be given to the Soybean Checkoff Board. One thousand bushels would generate $30 to the checkoff (1000 x 6 x .005).

To learn more about what their checkoff dollars are used for, eight Peoria County farmers participated in an Illinois Soybean Board Checkoff tour early in July.

The tour took approximately 150 farmers from throughout the state to the University of Illinois campus and South Farms in Champaign, Bayer Corporation in Mt. Vernon, and the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale.

Farmers toured soybean plots in all three locations and talked to researchers about the projects they’re working with. Researchers informed the group about new innovations in controlling weeds; soybean breeding and genetics; insect management; plant pathology and atmospheric condition’s effect on the growth of soybeans.

Waterhemp was a big issue on the tour at SIU in Carbondale. This is a weed that’s becoming a real problem, especially in the southern part of the state. Researchers indicated one waterhemp plant produces 100,000 seeds. These seeds will germinate throughout the growing year, which adds another degree of difficulty to its control.

To make matters worse, waterhemp is showing resistance to some herbicides. Waterhemp doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Peoria area. We hope it stays that way.

Another facet of the tour the Peoria group found interesting was a new phenomenon known as "green stem." Over the past few years, some soybean fields have had plants where the stem remained green while the soybeans were mature and ready to harvest. This causes inefficiencies during harvest as the combine is running green material through—which requires more fuel, causes more wear and tear on the machine, and takes up valuable harvest time for the farmer.

In the past, green stem was thought to be the result of plant breeding and soybean genetics. New research indicates a significant amount of green stem is linked to a beetle. As the beetle chews on soybean plants they also transfer a disease known as bean pod mottle virus. IBI