Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Version 2010, Day 1. The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop opened its 2010 run across the eastern Corn Belt with weather that was both crop and crop-scout favorable. After enduring hot temps for the week leading up to the Tour, Monday opened with readings that didn't hit 80 until well into the afternoon. Sure makes it a lot nicer to be trekking across the of western Ohio and eastern Indiana if your not wringing wet before you even set foot in a field. But you're not reading this to hear about the weather, at least not how it affects crop scouts.
Ohio: On corn, the average yield is 165.60 bu. per acre, up 3.6% from the 2009 Tour result. Given USDA was looking for a 1.15% rise as of Aug. 1 in Ohio, we feel pretty good about our number hitting that close in terms of movement versus year-ago.
First some general observations. This corn crop in Ohio (and most places in the Corn Belt) is a much-more advanced crop than what we saw in 2009 and 2008. In those two years, we were in fields that in some cases had just pollinated the third week of August and you were hard pressed to find a field that was getting near dent stage. This year, about the opposite is true -- you're hard pressed to find a field that isn't in the late dough to dent stage. That can ben chalked up to an early start the growing season. Some of that advantage was taken away by the month of May, but still this corn crop is well ahead of where we've seen it the past two growing seasons.
Digging into the number that produced the higher-than-year-ago result, there are two categories that stick out -- the number of ears in 60-feet of row. A year ago, we found 94.29 ears. This year, the counts came in at 97.02 ears. Ohio farmers are clearly getting those plant populations up and that shows.
Another key figure: Grain length. While 6.39 inches in 2010 vs. 6.23 inches in 2009 isn't a big number, when you combine the two, it's easy to see why our yield measurement for Ohio is above year-ago. That built on the gains seen in 2009 and puts the 2010 figure nearly 8 ears. You find 8 more ears that have just a little more grain length (even though our kernel rows dropped slightly) and that will build a bigger-than-year-ago yield.
And that slight uptick in grain length came despite finding tip-back on more than a few samples throughout the day.
Bottom line on Ohio corn: This crop does have more potential than year-ago and it is a lot closer to the finish line than we've seen the last two years. That should up the odds it will keep that potential through to the finish line.
As for the beans, The 1,200.98 pods in a 3ft.x3ft. square was down 5.3% from year-ago levels, and brings it back to basically the three-year average of 1,199.55 pods in a 3ft.x3ft. square
And that may be what we can best say about this Ohio bean crop. It's average. It's not all that bad but it didn't make you say "wow" when you walked out of a field after sampling. It's a decent bean crop and it proved what we've seen time and time again on the Tour -- weather that is beneficial for one crop is not necessarily weather that is beneficial for another.
There is -- or at least has been -- more moisture for this Ohio bean crop to work with this year. That's reflected in our soil moisture scale (our scale is 1 to 6 -- six is water standing in the fields; 1 is dry with large cracks in the ground) where a year-ago it was just above 2 (with 1 being the very driest) while this year it was nearly 3.5.
The other key: Even though we saw pods in that three-foot of row rise versus last year (425.82 vs. 411.39), we saw row spacing also spread out a little more (13.23 vs. 12.51). And that means it's a lot harder to have more pods in that three-foot-square plot we measure in each field.
Bottom line: Corn in Ohio has marched further down the road to mature than we've seen the past two years and has improved yield potential, too. But soybeans are looking more like an "average" crop in the Buckeye state for 2010.
Next up? Sampling the rest of Indiana. Our routes in the eastern portion of the state had a lot more variability than what we saw in Ohio. So it will be interesting to see if that trend continues as we move from Fishers, Indiana, to Bloomington, Illinois, tomorrow night.
Click here for complete 2010 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Coverage.