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Illinois Soy crediting checkoff, transportation for yield boost


BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois has retained its status as the Soy King of the USA.

The recent USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) annual crop production report estimates Illinois farmers grew nearly 612 million bushels of soybeans in 2017, averaging a yield of 58 bushels per acre over 10.5 million harvested acres.

This places Illinois as the nation’s leader in those three statistical categories, outpacing Iowa’s soybean production of 561.6 million bushels raised on 9.9 million acres with an average yield of 56.5 bushels.

“2017 was another good year for soybean production. Our farmers continue to raise the bar on achieving maximum yield without sacrificing profitability,” said Lynn Rohrschieb, a Fairmount farmer who serves as chair for the Illinois Soybean Assoc. (ISA). “We are excited to be the top soybean-producing state again.”

With good growing conditions and an emphasis on efficient management, Illinois has claimed the national production crown four of the last five growing seasons. The growth in soybean production in the Land of Lincoln mirrors national trends, with more soybean acres than corn harvested in 2017, according to USDA estimates.

Another ISA farmer-leader credits checkoff-supported programs, including farmer education on new practices and industry innovations, with allowing growers to maximize yield potential while considering cost.

“Each year, we better utilize checkoff funds to invest in key farmer profitability initiatives like intensive local learning sessions and the resource,” said Jenny Mennenga, ISA production and outreach committee chair, who farms in LeRoy.

“This contributes to the success of our growers and challenges us to continue to seek these opportunities that allow us to reach top yields.”

Mennenga offered insight into some of the most impactful programs and events ISA sponsors using soybean checkoff dollars, including the new Better Beans learning series. The five-city event, which began Jan. 30 and concludes Feb. 22, includes stops in Polo, Mendota, Jacksonville, Altamont and Fairview Heights.

“We’re really excited about Better Beans. We will be utilizing certified crop advisors to host these events,” she said. “It brings local solutions from experts in agronomy to soybean growers.”

The series was begun because of the diversity of issues soybean growers face in different parts of Illinois, according to Dan Davidson, an agronomist and director of strategic research for ISA. “We hope this series will offer targeted advice for regional issues and will help growers increase their profitability,” he explained.

Another upcoming ISA-sponsored event, the Resilient Farms Roadshow, will be from Feb. 13-21 in DeKalb, Galesburg, Bloomington, Effingham and Mt. Vernon. Featuring presentations from Davidson, University of Illinois farm economist Gary Schnitkey and Illinois Farm Business Farm Management CEO Dwight Raab, the series focuses on a recent ISA-sponsored study conducted by the U of I that analyzed proven habits of financially resilient farms in Illinois.

An annual event, the Illinois Soybean Summit, took place Jan. 11 in Springfield. The summit brings together growers, industry experts, certified crop advisors and others for an exchange of ideas, innovations and proven best management practices.

It is an event her family attends and benefits from, Mennenga said. “We bring home and implement new ideas from the Soybean Summit every year. Last year we implemented really early planting of soybeans – around April 12 and 13 – for the first time, and had the highest soybean production per acre ever. It was a win.”

For year-round assistance, the website is another reliable source for growers seeking advice on agronomic decisions that are proven to increase yields and sustainability while limiting costs, she noted.

In addition to the plethora of programs and events sponsored by the ISA, increases in soybean production in Illinois can also be credited to the value placed on getting state soybeans from farmer to customer in an efficient manner, added Austin Rincker, a Moweaqua farmer and ISA marketing committee chair.

“There are unique logistical challenges that exist in getting our product to market, including by rail, road and waterway. It’s a key priority of this organization to make sure we are leading the way in serving our customers efficiently, knowing that any gains we can make in transportation translate to generating more demand for our products,” Rincker said.

For more information on ISA soybean checkoff-supported programs and events, visit the ISA website at or send an email to