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The 2019 growing season was challenging at best.

Researchers and Extension Specialists from University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences are asking Illinois growers to share basic planting, harvest, and yield data with the college to learn from the extraordinary growing conditions experienced this year.

“What we have is a giant, unplanned, and involuntary experiment that is being conducted by Illinois farmers this year,” said Emerson Nafziger, professor emeritus in the U of I College of ACES. “This experiment can help us understand the ramifications of how planting date and variety maturity affect overall yields.”

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Using an anonymous online form, email, or the U.S. Postal Service, farmers can share very simple parameters from this year’s crop with researchers.

“The opportunity to collect a small amount of data on a large number of fields will help Extension provide better guidance if we find ourselves in this kind of situation again in the future,” said Chelsea Harbach, an Extension educator at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center near Monmouth.

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The researchers request data on the 2019 corn and soybean crop from fields in every county of Illinois, and encourage farmers to respond by the end of December. More information and information on the project is available at https://extension.illinois.edu/nwiardc/2019-delayed-planting-impact-study.

Master Gardener training 

As a reminder, the 2020 Master Gardener training will begin on Jan. 28. However, the application deadline for participation in the training is Dec. 13. Applicants will be interviewed in person to ensure that their personal goals are a good fit for the program's mission and goals. All training sessions will be held at the Coles County Extension office located at 809 Broadway Ave. in Mattoon. Sessions are scheduled on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Jan. 28 and ending April 7. The cost of the volunteer training option is $150, most of which goes toward the purchase of the Master Gardener reference manual.

More information about the Master Gardener volunteer program and the application process is available at https://extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/master-gardener-training-details .

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties, visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call 217-345-7034.

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