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Crop Tour Scouts Find Big Corn Yield Hit in Southwest Iowa

August 25, 2011
By: Ed Clark, Top Producer Business and Issues Editor
corn   hail   damage

Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Western scouts on the western leg made a swing through western Iowa Wednesday. In southwest Iowa, they found that recent hail damage through at least five counties stopped yield potential cold.

In the nine counties of District Seven, extreme southwest Iowa, crop tour data showed 2011 likely yields of 143.19 bushels based on 39 samples. That’s about 18% below last year’s Pro Farmer estimate for 2010. The three year average tour estimate for this part of Iowa is 174.64 bushels.

“This was the first oh, wow moment of the day,” but not in a good way, to see the terribly pounding the crop took, says veteran scout Jay Merryman, a Marshalltown, Iowa, owner of a farm, a commodities broker and financial planner. Had it not been for the widespread hail damage and high wind that affected at least 50,000 acres, some scouts say that Southwest Iowa would have had the potential for a record yield in 2011.
The two other Iowa crop districts the scouts visited yesterday looked more promising. In west central Iowa, or district 4, tour data points to a yield average of 172.96 bushels, up 2.8% from a year ago, with the three year average of 177.51. The strongest contenders for greater year-over-year yield improvement, meanwhile, are the 12 counties in northwest Iowa, or crop district 1. Yields here are projected to be 176.64 bushels, a 3.4% gain over previous year data. The three-year average in this part of western Iowa is 176.86 bushels.
Overall, Merryman categorized the western Iowa corn crop he saw today as very good to above average, perhaps a 7.5 to 8 out of 10. “Mother Nature dealt us a double whammy in July—turning off the water and firing up the heat during pollination.” That eliminated the possibility for a bin buster. Some producers in northwest Iowa note that they received virtually no rain during five or six critical weeks and nighttime temperatures stayed very high during pollination. Some scouts noted the same serious problems. “The crop is suffering from moisture in Clay County,” says Wes Exelby, a scout who farms in Saline, Mich. That said, his group found one field in the county with a yield potential of 200.
By comparison, USDA 2010 corn yield for southwest Iowa was 151.9 bushels per acre; 172.1 for west central Iowa; and 184.7 bushels for northwest Iowa.
Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory and Western Tour Director notes that the outlook for soybean yields in western Iowa—consistent with what he has seen elsewhere—remains very positive. All they need is one more rain. He notes that the 2011 soybean crop appears to be virtually free of diseases and pests.
Final data for Iowa and Minnesota will be available Thursday, August 25, following the route discussion meeting in Austin, Minn. Pro Farmer’s yield estimates will be available Friday, August 26 at 1:30 CDT.


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