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Quick Take: Tractor sales, scholarships and more

Holly Spangler John Deere tractor and planter
STRONG SALES: U.S. farm equipment is in its eleventh month of increased sales.
Tractor sales ride 11-month high, retailers get new leadership, scientists make pumpkin disease progress, and Farm Credit Illinois awards 29 scholarships.

Equipment sales still growing

Farm tractor sales in the U.S. have continued to grow for 11 straight months, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. March marked the eleventh month of growth for the industry.

“It’s not just the length of time of this growth streak, but the size of growth that makes me feel optimistic this will continue past the 12-month mark,” says Curt Blades, AEM.

According to AEM’s report, tractor sales were up 84.1% in March, compared to March 2020. Combine sales grew 6.7%, but the biggest gains were in the under-40-hp market, which grew by 96.5%. Blades says their survey earlier in the year showed manufacturers are optimistic thanks to increased customer demand and despite COVID-19 and labor challenges.

IFCA under new leadership

Leaders of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association have named KJ Johnson as their new interim president, following Jean Payne’s retirement as president earlier this spring. Payne was president from 2004-21.

KJ has long handled lobbying for IFCA, serving as director of government and industry relations since 2013, and before that was the ag liaison for former Rep. Tim Johnson for 12 years. He’s well-respected in Illinois politics for building relationships between government and agriculture, and for his deep knowledge of ag regulatory issues.

KJ grew up on a farm in Champaign and Vermilion counties, and he earned a degree in agriculture and political science from Illinois State University.

IFCA has more than a thousand members statewide and represents crop production suppliers, retailers and more.  

Genome sequenced for pesky pumpkin pathogen

Pumpkin growers dread the tiny tan scabs that form on their fruit, each lesion a telltale sign of bacterial spot disease that reduces their marketable crop by as much as 90% every year.

Despite that severity, scientists know little about the genetics of the pathogen that causes it — until now. University of Illinois crop scientists have mapped the genome for the bacteria that causes the disease and identified the genes that activate during infection.

“Assembling a complete circular genome means we now have the resources to better understand what’s happening in the field. We can use this information to look at how the pathogen is spreading, whether there are differences in host specificity among subpopulations or strains, or how likely it is to develop resistance to chemical controls,” says Sarah Hind, assistant professor of crop sciences.  

If Hind’s team can learn more, there may be a way to prevent the bacteria from penetrating pumpkin fruits in the first place. “That would really save the farmers,” she says. “They don’t care as much when it gets on the leaves — but if it infects the fruit, they’re in trouble.”

 

Farm Credit awards nearly $60,000 in scholarships

Farm Credit Illinois is handing out $58,000 in scholarships to 29 Illinois high school seniors pursuing ag-related majors and careers. Each student receives a $2,000 scholarship, and selection is based on academic achievement; participation and leadership in school and community organizations; and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career.

“Farm Credit Illinois scholars represent tomorrow’s agricultural leaders,” says Rod Stoll, Farm Credit Illinois. “Investing in their education today — on behalf of our cooperative members — will help positively shape the future of the industry and rural America.”

Take a look at the following award winners:

• Rachel Ash of Onarga (Iroquois County) will graduate from Iroquois West High School and enroll in the Parkland Pathways program before transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural communications. Rachel’s parents are Joe and Katie Ash.

• Sophia Biehl of Belleville (St. Clair County) will graduate from Freeburg Community High School and attend Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, to study agricultural education. Sophia’s parents are Robert and Jill Biehl.

• Abigail Bolen of Farmer City (DeWitt County) will graduate from Blue Ridge High School and attend Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, to study forestry. Abigail’s parents are Emily and Jim Weiler and Ken and Carissa Bolen.

• Katheranne Bond of Galatia (Saline County) will graduate from Galatia High School and attend Lake Land College to study animal science technology. Katheranne’s parents are Jim Bond and Micki Pritchett.

• Donovan Chester of Tuscola (Douglas County) will graduate from Tuscola High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural communications. Donovan’s parents are Deon and Katrina Chester.

• Seth Clark of Macedonia (Franklin County) will graduate from Thompsonville High School and attend Murray State University to study pre-veterinary medicine. Seth’s parents are Dennis and Becky Clark.

• Caden Cockburn of Johnston City (Williamson County) will graduate from Johnston City High School and attend Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, to study animal science. Caden’s parents are Travis and Channa Cockburn.

• Melia Eskew of Ashmore (Coles County) will graduate from Kansas High School and attend Eastern Illinois University to study accounting and finance. Melia’s parents are Mark and Angela Eskew.

• Jordyn Gerlach of Waggoner (Montgomery County) will graduate from Lincolnwood High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study animal sciences. Jordyn’s parents are Eric and Angie Gerlach.

• Charles Gum of Tallula (Menard County) will graduate from PORTA High School (District 202) and attend Lincoln Land Community College to study agribusiness management. Charles’ parents are Randy and Jennifer Gum.

• Meghan Hadden of Jacksonville (Morgan County) will graduate from Jacksonville High School and attend Lincoln Land Community College to study agricultural education. Meghan’s parents are Gary and Lisa Hadden.

• Addison Hortin of Decatur (Macon County) will graduate from Warrensburg-Latham High School and attend Wabash Valley College to study agriculture. Addison’s parents are Mike and Karyn Hortin.

• Luke Hubbert of Winchester (Scott County) will graduate from Winchester High School and attend John Wood Community College to study agronomy management. Luke’s parents are Matt and Jen Hubbert.

• Anthony Joiner of Carlinville (Macoupin County) will graduate from Carlinville High School and attend Lincoln Land Community College to study agribusiness management. Anthony’s parents are Vicki and Greg Joiner II.

• Shana Lueking of Centralia (Clinton County) will graduate from Christ Our Rock Lutheran High School and attend Murray (Ky.) State University to study agriscience technology, with a focus on communications and public relations. Shana’s parents are Doug and Sheila Lueking.

• Kate Miller of Macedonia (Hamilton County) will graduate from Hamilton County High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural and consumer economics, agribusiness markets and management. Kate’s parents are Lisa and Mark Miller.

• Tyler Miller of Atlanta (Logan County) will graduate from Olympia High School and attend Lake Land College to study pre-veterinary medicine. Tyler’s parents are Tara Miller and Jason Miller.

• Alexis Mudd of Red Bud (Monroe County) will graduate from Waterloo High School and attend Southeast Missouri State University to study agricultural education and agribusiness management. Alexis’ parents are Scott and Liz Mudd.

• Isabella Murphy of Farmersville (Montgomery County) will graduate from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School and attend the University of Missouri to study animal sciences. Isabella’s parents are Courtney and Molly Murphy.

• Hayley Pitts of Olney (Richland County) will graduate from Richland County High School and attend Lake Land College to study pre-veterinary medicine. Hayley’s parents are Brent and Sheri Pitts.

• Molly Reed of Shipman (Macoupin County) will graduate from Southwestern High School and attend Western Illinois University to study agricultural business. Molly’s parents are Anthony and Kimberly Reed.

• Grace Rincker of Strasburg (Shelby County) will graduate from Stewardson-Strasburg High School and attend Lake Land College as an agricultural transfer. Grace’s parents are Doug and Marla Rincker.

• Jennifer Rudolphi of Olney (Richland County) will graduate from Richland County High School and attend Wabash Valley College to study agricultural technology business. Jennifer’s parents are Mark and Maria Rudolphi.

• Jaton Shaffer of Farmer City (DeWitt County) will graduate from Blue Ridge High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural and consumer economics. Jaton’s parents are Dyke and Kendra Shaffer.

• Randy Shook of Dewey (Champaign County) will graduate from Fisher High School and enroll in the Parkland Pathways program, before transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural and consumer economics. Randy’s parents are Randy and Kristi Shook.

• Taylor Talbert of Onarga (Iroquois County) will graduate from Iroquois West High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural communications, with a focus in advertising. Taylor’s parents are Timothy and Anna Talbert.

• Maggie Uphoff of Mattoon (Coles County) will graduate from Mattoon High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study food science and human nutrition. Maggie’s parents are Bill and Kim Uphoff.

• Patrick Wiemers of Alton (Madison County) will graduate from Marquette Catholic High School and attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study agricultural and consumer economics. Patrick’s parents are Matt and Beth Wiemers.

• Ali Willenborg of Vandalia (Fayette County) will graduate from Vandalia Community High School and attend Murray (Ky.) State University to study agribusiness economics. Ali’s parents are Robert and Amy Willenborg.

 

 

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