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Japanese beetles (Fig. 1) have been arriving throughout Illinois over the last couple of weeks, and are becoming pretty conspicuous in some areas. Our crops are well behind their usual progress when Japanese beetle emergence occurs, which could impact scouting and management decision making. Several of my colleagues recently wrote an in-depth article on the history, distribution and management of this pest1; you can read the full open-access article here. Some notes on management follow by crop:

Japanese beetle adult

Fig. 1. A Japanese beetle adult hanging out on a corn leaf

Corn: Silk clipping is the primary concern with Japanese beetle infestations in corn. While the beetles will nibble on the leaves also, this does not amount to much. Many fields this season are likely to begin silking when Japanese beetles are at their peak, so scouting will be especially important. Silk clipping by Japanese beetles (as well as corn rootworms) can interfere with pollination. The effect of this feeding can be compounded by heat and drought stress2, which could be an issue in many fields this year given the late timing of pollination. Feeding tends to be concentrated on field edges, so thorough scouting within the field is necessary to determine if a treatment is justified. A rescue treatment with an insecticide is recommended if the following additions are observed:

  • Silks are being clipped to within ½ inch throughout the field
  • There are 3 or more beetles per ear (consider reducing this number if silk clipping is occuring under drought and heat-stress conditions)
  • Pollination is ongoing/less than 50% complete (especially during the first 5 days of silking).

Soybean: Control of Japanese beetles in soybean is rarely justified in Illinois, even though the damage is often conspicuous. Soybeans are fairly tolerant of defoliation in general. The only “wild card” this year is that, like corn, our soybeans are well behind their normal level of development when Japanese beetles (and other defoliators) become active. Making a rescue treatment decision for defoliators is a three-step process:

  • Determine the overall level of defoliation in the field. The recommended economic threshold is 30% defoliation prior to bloom, and 20% defoliation after bloom. Train your eye to accurately measure defoliation, and be careful not to over-estimate the extent of the damage (Fig. 2)
  • If a field is above the economic threshold, sample using a sweep net, shake sheet, or other sampling method to identify the insect responsible and verify that it is still present in the field. (Avoid “revenge” applications, which will not provide an economic return).
  • Choose an insecticide and rate that will provide effective control of the target insect. (Efficacy results from 2018 can be found in the 2018 Applied Research Results on Field Crop Pest and Disease Control report here. Results from trials conducted previously at the University of Illinois can be found in the “On Target” summaries of field crop insect management trials here.
Soybean defoliation levels

Fig. 2. Soybean leaves with differing levels of defoliation. Most observers tend to over-estimate the actual level of defoliation in the field

Most insecticides that control Japanese beetles have a relatively short period of residual control. This is no big deal in corn, as the critical period to protect silks is short anyway. In soybean, the short period of residual activity is another great reason to abide by the economic thresholds for defoliating insects; yield-reducing numbers of Japanese beetles in soybean are rare, and multiple applications for this insect are usually a wasted expense.

1 Shanovich et al. 2019. Journal of Integrated Pest Management 10: 9

2 Steckel et al. 2013. Journal of Economic Entomology 106: 2048-2054

Author contact: Nick Seiter | | 217.300.7199

Source: University of Illinois

Producers in the Hoopeston area will soon have a convenient new source of quality agronomy products and services. United Prairie will begin construction this spring on our new location just east of town.

“We’ll have a chemical shed and an anhydrous facility,” says location manager Tod Hufford. “We’re building with additional warehouse capacity, so we can expand into seed if the need develops. We’ll be able to provide everything the farmer needs, including dry fertilizer, which we can pull from the Crescent City or Tolono locations.”

Tod Hufford

Tod joined the United Prairie staff right before Thanksgiving and has been busy meeting area growers. He brings 34 years of ag experience with him, 25 of those years as a location manager. As the new facility gets up and running, he will transition into a full-time sales role.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to my roots,” Tod says. “I enjoy getting out in the country, talking with our customers and helping them with their production decisions. You don’t get to do as much of that as a location manager.”

Tod grew up near Alvin and has worked in the area all of his life, so he knows the territory well. “I’ve worked with some of the producers in this area for more than 20 years, and I’m excited about what United Prairie offers them,” he states. “It’s important to give our customers sound, useful agronomic information that works where they farm, and this company does a good job of that. Their products are second to none, and United Prairie also brings a third-party financing alternative to our farmers through AgQuest®.”

The new facility is slated to be completed and ready for operation this fall.

Anthony Conn

Managing costs is on every farmer’s mind as the ag economy continues to lag entering the 2018 production season. How to best do that is the question our agronomy sales staff has been hearing a lot recently.

“Last week, a grower asked me where he could save this year—where he could cut to improve his profitability,” says Anthony Conn, Crescent City agronomy sales. “The truth is, you can’t just cut your way to profitability. We have to feed the crop. You don’t want to start cutting the products that are giving good ROI.”

David Nesbitt, Jamaica agronomy sales, agrees. “At these commodity prices, we need to get every

David Nesbitt

bushel we can,” he states. “That may involve spending an extra dollar or two, but if those dollars spent more than pay for themselves at harvest, you’re ahead.”

Both Anthony and David agree that the local research conducted by United Prairie on their Innovation Farm and on the farm with area cooperators is a valuable resource in determining which practices consistently provide the best returns where you farm.

“In our area, fungicide application on both corn and beans—and applying insecticide to the beans at the same time—has shown consistently good results,” David says. “Foliar feeding has also been a positive practice, though application timing is critical. This is when you want to check out the trial results, because all foliar feeds are not created equal.”

“One thing I have seen with fungicide application is not only does harvestability improve, but overall plant health,” Anthony adds. “That occurs whether disease pressure is present of now. The majority of the time, fungicide use pays on both corn and soybeans. Seed selection is also important, knowing which varieties need help standing for harvest, but at the same time, increased plant health drives yield.”

Test to know
Anthony also notes those who have recent, accurate soil tests may benefit this season from variable rate fertilizer application by being able to spread fertilizer where it is needed. The only way to know for certain where and how much to spread or not spread is to grid sample.

“There are a lot of choices available when soil testing, and you will want to pick the most accurate option,” he says. “When those samples are taken, even the environmental conditions at the time, will impact the results you get.”

Anthony says that any member of the agronomy sales team would be happy to sit down with a grower and go through the results from United Prairie’s research program. “We can access even more data than what was published in our booklet this year,” he explains. “Every grower is unique, and we may have some information that will be an even better fit for their operation. We can show you what kind of return you can expect, and we may find that it’s those “add-on” products that will give our growers the yield boost they’re looking for.”


As we gear up for the second year of dicamba application, there’s no doubt the revised label creates challenges for both applicators and producers. We pride ourselves on meeting the needs of our customers promptly and correctly. With dicamba, we’re asking for your help in the process.

One of the biggest challenges for us this year will be identifying surrounding crops and, in particular, those directly bordering the field to be applied. It will be logistically impossible for our sales staff to identify all of the fields that potentially could be impacted. So, we’re reaching out to you, our customers. If you’re using Engenia®, FeXapan™ or XtendaMax®, please help us out by talking with your neighbors to find out what’s going to be planted next to your field.

Please identify not only susceptible crops, but anything we should be aware of adjacent to the field. For example, a home, garden or orchard. We want to be able to apply every field you want us to cover, and your help in identifying any concerns surrounding your field will give us a much better chance of getting every acre applied without incident.

Todd Shunk Todd Shunk
Sales Manager

At United Prairie, we place a very high value on local research. All sorts of products and practices come to the market with some big claims. Our goal is to determine which products will actually perform, and provide a consistent return on investment, under the growing conditions we encounter in our trade area.

We shared our 2017 trial results to a very receptive audience at our grower event earlier this year. Not only do we have the results from last year, because the Innovation Farm and our system of cooperator trials are well established, but we now have a three-year track record with some of these products and practices. Over these three years, we have seen two practices deliver consistently strong results:

  • The MicroShield micronutrient foliar package
  • Fungicide on both corn and soybeans

As you’ve read or will read, our sales agronomists have confirmed the effectiveness of these practices in their areas. And we will continue to test these practices going forward to determine their ongoing effectiveness.

I’d like to let the numbers make the case for some of the practices which have been shown in our research to deliver a positive ROI. You’ll also see that not everything we test lives up to our expectations. That’s ok, because we want our research to honest, transparent and above all, useful to you.

If you have questions, be sure to talk to one of our sales agronomists. Ask them for a copy of the results booklet we have produced. Research information is also located on our website,

Jeff Brown
Agronomy Manager

All United Prairie Locations will be closed on Monday, February 19th for Presidents Day.  If you have any needs please contact your United Prairie Sales Agronomist prior to this weekend.  Thank you, and enjoy your Presidents Day.

Don’t Forget to Pre-Register!

The United Prairie Winter meeting is fast approaching!

Do not forget to Pre-Register for the meeting by January 9th for a chance to win a pair of Dugout Box tickets to the Cubs/Cardinals game on July 29th in St. Louis!

You can Pre-Register by Calling 217-485-6000.

The United Prairie Winter Meeting is on January 16th at the iHotel in Champaign.


Winter Meeting Flier

United Prairie Locations will be closed on Friday, December 22nd and December 25th for Christmas and then again on January 1st and 2nd for the New Year.  We hope you all have a safe and wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.  We look forward to working with you again in 2018!

We’re right in the heart of fall application season, and we’ve observed some interesting trends. We’re seeing a move from applying all the nutrients for two years to more growers fertilizing every acre every year, for reasons of cash flow, landlord arrangements or both. No matter how you want to approach it, we can tailor our variable rate fertilizer recommendations to your situation.

The University of Illinois came out with new phosphorus and potassium removal rates for both corn and beans in August. The new rates are a little lower than the rates we have used for the past 30 years, but I would caution growers that if they are going to use the new removal numbers then they need to fertilize for the actual bushels removed, otherwise we will see fertility rates begin to slide.

We’re also working with actual machine-derived yield data more extensively to calculate removal rates. This helps determine exactly how much we need to replace to support your target yield for the coming production year. In the past trying to retrieve cards and thumb drives has made this a somewhat cumbersome task. With more options of storing data on the cloud, getting that data to us has become much easier. The Climate FieldView™ program is one way to seamlessly transfer data to us. Their latest product, FieldView Drive™, is particularly useful for producers who don’t have the Precision Planting yield monitor. It pulls planting and harvest data directly from the CAN bus on either Case or John Deere combines and transmits it directly to your FieldView account on the cloud via your iPad data plan. We also can connect seamlessly with your MyJohnDeere account. Whether you have a John Deere modem in your machine, or simply upload your yield data to your MyJohnDeere account every couple of days, we can also get that data to stream in to your United Prairie mapping account without having to retrieve any cards or thumb drives.

No matter how you’re handling your data, I recommend saving a copy of your original yield data from your machine on your computer every year. It provides a starting point to work from no matter what software you decide to use in the future. I too often talk to growers that have imported all of their yield data into a program but have no way to actually retrieve any of it because the program won’t export the data back out in a usable format.

If you have questions about any of these topics, please give us a call we will be glad to help you out with it.

Aaron Grote Aaron Grote
Technical Services Representative

One of the more significant agronomy choices for 2018 will be whether to go with Xtend® or LibertyLink® soybeans. That decision should be made based on the specific weed control issues you face. We have solid lineups of both Liberty and Xtend beans that will deliver strong yields. No matter which way you go, we’re confident yields won’t suffer.

Whether you apply yourself or choose to use our custom application service, you’ll want to pay careful attention to the requirements for the XtendiMax® dicamba herbicide, if you choose Xtend soybeans.

Moving to corn, the genetics we used last year are leading the field again. There are some new numbers, however, that you may want to try a planter full of for the coming year. We’re ready to help you match the right hybrid to your soil, growing conditions and maturity.

Evaluate rootworm pressure

This is the second or third year in which we’ve seen declining rootworm pressure in many of our fields. Some of the best genetics for yield are associated with Double Pro hybrids right now. Wyffels corn has some very strong Double Pro genetics, and DEKALB® has some excellent SmartStax hybrids that are also available in Double Pro.

If you’re in an area where rootworm is not a major issue, or you have a planter equipped to apply insecticide, take a look at these Double Pro options. They’ll deliver strong yields at a price that will help your bottom line. However, if you’re in an area that traditionally experienced rootworm pressure, discuss your situation with us. A SmartStax® hybrid may be the better choice for you.

Once again this year, soybeans planted in April delivered better yields than those planted in May. In our area, seed treatment is a must if you’re planting early—a fungicide/insecticide package at a minimum. And, as Darren Roelfs observes in the Danvers area, fungicide application—at times combined with catching some spotty rain—resulted in as much as a 10-bushel yield advantage in some areas.

Keep all these observations in mind as you plan for 2018. Remember that we’re here to help, so don’t hesitate to bring us your questions.


Tal Holmes Tal Holmes
Seed Manager


More News
Japanese Beetle Management Guidelines

Japanese beetles have been arriving throughout Illinois over the last couple of weeks, and are becoming pretty conspicuous in some areas.

Weed Management on Prevented Planting Acres

Even though no crop will be planted, weed control practices still should be implemented to reduce seed production from summer annual weed species.

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