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Just How Bad Is It? An Aerial View of Crops in Iowa and Minnesota

August 5, 2013
By: Tyne Morgan, Ag Day TV National Reporter
aerial crops iowa minnesota 2013

Crops may look fine from the road, but an aerial view of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota reveals a true picture of what too much rain can do.

"AgDay" continues to hear reports of poor crop conditions in northeast Iowa and southern Minnesota. After receiving aerial footage, it's apparent the crop can't be accurately measured by walking through fields; a view from above tells the true story. Pro Farmer's Chip Flory joined two crops analysts, including Peter Meyer of PIRA Energy Group, for an aerial tour of the hard-hit area. They took off from Charles City, Iowa, on July 29 with a camera in hand. The footage is mind-blowing; just watch the video to see for yourself.

Bare fields, large holes in the middle of lush, green fields and inconsistency stretching for miles. This is an aerial view of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, and proof of what too much rain can do.

"The pounding rains, the saturated soils, the late plantings and then the mudding it in in a lot of cases led to these problems," says Brian Grete, Pro Farmer senior market analyst.

Peter Meyer of PIRA Energy Group decided to get a first-hand look of these issues from the air. Earlier this summer, he conducted a driving crop tour in states like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. He saw acres and acres of unplanted fields then, but an aerial view confirmed his original analysis of Iowa and Minnesota: it's bad.

"The water, the holes in the field are as big as football fields," says Meyer. "The soybeans there are so small and with the daylight getting shorter, I just don't know how sustainable this soybean crop is."

Meyer says based on what he's seen on both crop tours, he thinks the prevented planting acreage number in Iowa and Minnesota alone will be around two million acres just in corn.

Meanwhile, in USDA's June Acreage report, the agency still thinks total acreage will set records this year, despite the dramatic picture of Iowa and Minnesota. USDA says scouts are resurveying fields across the northern Corn Belt, but there's still doubt if the agency will adjust the numbers enough in the upcoming report.

Grete lives in northeast Iowa, and he's seen the poor conditions first-hand. After getting an aerial view, he says conditions can't be accurately measured when just driving by.

"Now these may not be visible from the road; in fact, some of these crops we're seeing here from a 1,000 foot-view, may actually be rated as good to excellent fields by USDA at this point in time, because they're not visible from the road," he explains. "But when you get an aerial view of them, you see all the holes that are out there, the thin stands, and so on and so forth."

So, if this year's crop is as bad as these scouts are seeing in Iowa and Minnesota, why have we seen a dramatic drop in crop prices lately? Grete says unfortunately, we may not get an accurate account of this year's crop for a few more months.

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RELATED TOPICS: Corn, Soybeans, Marketing



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