From the Intern- Emily Flory - Western Tour Day 2
Well another day down on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour and even though the data showed an 'average' crop, there were still things seen by the scouts on the Western tour that were anything but average. There were three main things that scouts were saying throughout the day that made for an interesting conversation in Nebraska City at tonight's meeting. Hail damage, seed placement issues, and drought stress as we made our way east.
Clay Co. Nebraska is where most of the hail damage was and with the recent storm that tore through this area, it left a mess in some fields that were scouted by one of the Pro Farmer tour leaders, Jason Franck. Throughout the day on all sorts of social media sites, pictures of the hail damage started to pop up and even the smell of some of these fields was getting strong, which made for a strong assumption that there will not be a crop taken from these fields. As if the extremely long spring wasn't enough for these guys and even though they got their crop in, this is just a reminder that anything can happen and shows Mother Nature is boss. This area was small and with the limited number of people that said they were from this county at tonight's meeting, it was still something that was out of the ordinary from some of the other routes that were traveled today.
Next is seed placement and emergence issues that were seen throughout the day. Starting early in the morning, most routes saw late cornfields with below-standard stand counts and uneven ear sets on stalks. As scouts were walking through the fields, they started to notice the difference in where some of the ears were sitting on the stalks compared to the other ears. Some ears were lower than others and this made for a loss in pollination and loss in the overall yield potential. While collecting the samples, many scouts were seeing skips, clusters, and "runt" ears in just about every sample they were collecting on the Western side of today's route.
With two "good" ears and one ear having "problems," it made for a conversation about why it is looking this way. As explained by Western lead, Chip Flory, the environment at planting bed is very important and if there is a stressful planting situation, you can't expect to have bin-busting yields because of the conditions of the field when the seed went into the ground. From the response from the attendees tonight in the crowd, it seemed like the planting date around this area was anywhere from May 14th to June 8th. With the variation in the planting date and not knowing when the next rain was coming, this brought growers to push the throttle just a little harder this year causing seed to cluster and then show a gap of 1-2 feet. The weather at the beginning of the season is holding this crop back, but like said before, most scouts have reported seeing an average crop.
And finally, even though growers were flooded with spring rains, last year's drought can't be forgotten and the limited water that was put on to these fields last year will hurt more than just the 2012 crop. Drought is hard to run away from and most scouts saw that the drought is making its way back into the minds of some of the eastern growers of Nebraska. But, in response to the drought, the maturity is also seeing more dented fields in the areas surrounding Nebraska City and the frost date may not be as big of an issue in this area as it could potentially be in the northern Nebraska territories and South Dakota.
Tomorrow we will make our way into Iowa where we will end in Spencer, IA, at the Clay County Fair Grounds and then Thursday we will wrap up our final day in Rochester, MN. Follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #pftour13 and on AgWeb.com, profarmer.com, and more. Follow the tour leaders: @ChipFlory, @BGrete, @JasonFranckNC, @MNWeedWizzard, @Emily_FloryAg14, and @DonnaMc_Ag for in-field updates, and @JuliJohnston and @MeghanPedersen for tour updates and data information.