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Crop Tour Keeps the Lid on Yields

August 23, 2014
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
corn sample illinois crop tour
  

Reasonable yield expectations are proving some light at the end of the corn price tunnel, says Jerry Gulke.

The results are in. The much-anticipated 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour tested the preconceived notions about this year’s massive crops. What did the 120 crop scouts find?

Here’s an overview of Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour state results:

  • Ohio: Corn yield: 182.11 bu. per acre, 171.64 bu. per acre in 2013, 146.13 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in a 3'x3' square: 1,342.42; 1,283.61 in 2013; 1,190.18 for the three-year average.
  • South Dakota: Corn yield: 152.71 bu. per acre; 161.75 bu. per acre in 2013; 125.70 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in 3'x3' square: 1,057.80, 1,016.68 in 2013, 902.76 for the three-year average.
  • Indiana: Corn yield: 185.03 bu. per acre, 167.36 bu. per acre in 2013, 141.24 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in a 3'x3' square: 1,220.79; 1,185.14 in 2013; 1,118.65 for the three-year average.
  • Nebraska: Corn yield: 163.77 bu. per acre; 154.93 bu. per acre in 2013; 146.81 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in 3'x3' square: 1,103.26; 1,138.94 in 2013, 1,106.62 for the three-year average.
  • Illinois: Corn yield: 196.96 bu. per acre; 170.48 bu. per acre in 2013; 149.36 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in 3'x3' square: 1,299.17; 1,115.97 in 2013, 1,085.35 for the three-year average.
  • Iowa: Corn yield: 178.75 bu. per acre; 171.94 bu. per acre in 2013; 157.94 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in 3'x3' square: 1,173.59, 927.30 in 2013; 1,049.68 for the three-year average.
  • Minnesota: Corn yield: 170.76 bu. per acre; 181.09 bu. per acre in 2013; 171.07 bu. per acre for the three-year average. Soybean pod counts in a 3'x3' square: 1,031.54, 869.42 in 2013; 975.99 for the three-year average.

 

Following the tour, Pro Farmer released its estimates for the 2014 corn and soybean crops. Pro Farmer pegs 2014 U.S. corn crop at 14.093 billion bu., with an average yield of 169.3 bu./acre. For soybeans, Pro Farmer expects a 2014 U.S. soybean crop of 3.812 billion bu., with an average yield of 45.35 bu./acre.

Pro Farmer says these estimates are based on assumptions for normal weather through September, which would include a "slow cook" on the corn crop, allowing it to gain the weight needed to reach our estimates. Based on FSA certified acreage data and observations on Crop Tour, Pro Farmer decided to leave harvested soybean acres unchanged at 84.058 million and take 600,000 acres off of harvested corn acres — 500,000 acres off North Dakota and 100,000 off Minnesota — bringing it to 83.239 million acres.

In August, USDA forecast an average corn yield of 167.4 bu./acre and an average soybean yield of 45.4 bu./acre. "The numbers that UDSA came out with were thought to have room for improvement," says Jerry Gulke, president of The Gulke Group. "USDA will not recognize the total potential; they will go up slowly as things develop."

Gulke says the Pro Farmer numbers were close to what he expected. "I was pleasantly surprised to see they didn’t blow the yields out of the water in Iowa and Illinois like some of the people wanted to," he says.

Hear Gulke's full audio analysis:


A Black Swan Ahead?

One of the big questions that remain to be answered, Gulke says, involves acreage. In an upcoming column for Top Producer magazine, Gulke notes, there’s still wiggle room for the number of harvested corn acres.

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