Can Illinois and Iowa deliver the big yields needed to reach USDA’s August production estimates? That continued to be the question of the day as crop scouts on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour pulled samples in the big corn and soy states Wednesday.
The tour measured the Illinois crop at 171.64 bushels per acre — nearly equal to USDA’s 172 bpa August estimate and higher than the three-year tour average yield of 163.01 bpa.
The Illinois soybean crop was measured at 1,190.47 pods in a 3-foot-by-3-foot square, down 8.4% from the previous year, but comparable to three-year tour averages and in line with USDA’s soybean yield estimates for the state.
Early corn counts from southwestern Iowa measured 166.26 bpa. Iowa soybean pod counts ranged from a low of 1,213.52 in north-western Iowa to 1,296.49 pods in a 3-foot-by-3-foot square in southwestern Iowa.
The big news Wednesday was Illinois and the handful of regions measured in Iowa came amazingly close to the USDA estimates for those states. Yet analysts traveling with the tour indicated there could be some downward revisions coming on corn in USDA’s next report.
So far, Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana average yields from the tour have trended lower than USDA’s August corn estimate. South Dakota’s corn yields were judged to generally be on par with the government estimates.
Ohio, so far, is the only stumbling block in soybeans. Other state pod counts measured to date mostly equate to a yield that is more comparable with the USDA estimates. While the soybean crop is still young in some regions, August rains usually benefit soybeans. One reason the crop tour doesn’t estimate yields is the soybean crop still has so much upward potential at this time of year.
There’s no question that conditions during the first part of the growing season have caused some variability in crops in all the states. Crops planted early or on time have the biggest potential for yield on both the eastern and western legs of the tour.
On Wednesday, western scouts left Nebraska City, Nebraska, and crossed the Missouri River to find a crop that was somewhat less consistent than what was discovered in Nebraska and South Dakota, mostly due to planting delays.
By contrast, eastern scouts who followed a route northwest from Bloomington, Illinois, to the Quad Cities saw a crop that was much more consistent overall than they saw in Ohio, Indiana and eastern Illinois.
MORE ON ILLINOIS
“We started out pretty strong, especially in Woodford, Marshall, Putnam and Bureau Counties,” said Gabriel Jose Rodriquez, a research analyst at brokerage firm Fintec Group Inc. Corn fields looked a little weaker in Henry County, where scouts saw more skips in fields. “Even though it seems like they had some rain, it seemed like the soil was still cracked, so maybe it was not enough or as much as they needed.
“Overall, I would say that Illinois was a little stronger than the parts of Iowa we saw,” he said. “I think one of the repetitive issues is that we have enough ears, but the grain length isn’t there.”
Rodriquez said the corn in Illinois was in dough to late-milk stage, and could be at black layer by mid-September.
Some fields were consistently good, like on Rodriquez’s route, or they were consistently poor. A scout whose route began south of Springfield, Illinois, said the crop was rough and had lost a lot of nitrogen. The variability they saw was from field to field, whereas the past few days, yield potential differed wildly within one field.
Lin Tan, DTN’s China Correspondent and executive president at a Chinese soybean purchasing company, said he only saw one field on his zig-zagging route through north-central Illinois that wasn’t good.
“Fields with 20- or 15-inch rows look better (than 30-inch rows). We saw a lot of Japanese beetles, especially south (of the) Quad Cities. I could see lot of damage on the leaves,” he said.
FIRST RESULTS FROM IOWA
Although eastern scouts dipped into the eastern side of Iowa, western leg scouts pulled most of the samples Wednesday. The tour samples the eastern and north-central sections of Iowa on Thursday and continues into Minnesota.
Roger Cervene, a Stanton, Iowa, farmer and tour scout explained that late planting and prolonged wet and cool weather has hurt the crop in that area. “We planted too wet,” said Cervene. “We know we did, but we didn’t have much choice if we were going to get it in.”
When it rains, it pours — the area got too dry in July, but over the last 10 days has received 10 to 14 inches of rain.
Yields improved as Iowa scouts headed north. West-central Iowa tour samples averaged 184.88 bpa and north-central Iowa measured an average 188.19 bpa. Northern corn leaf blight and Goss’s Wilt was noted in corn fields and there was some concern about stalk quality.
Soybean maturity is a concern in Iowa. Scouts observed fields that were planted in mid-to-late July and still actively blooming.
Tim Gregerson, a farmer scout from Herman, Neb., said he is looking forward to seeing what Minnesota fields have to offer. “I think the expectations are that we will see a bigger crop in Minnesota than in Iowa,” he said
Cervene noted that while measuring yields is informative, he also attends the tour to see what he can learn about new management practices. He measured a field of corn planted in narrow rows that has him contemplating tinkering with 15-inch row spacings and other new strategies he can employ in his own fields.
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