Day 2 of the 2011 Pro Farmer MidwestCrop Tour found us heading north with a crew of four that included Julie Root representing the NAFB from Bloomington, IL, as the driver, Diego Bancalari representing Noble Grain from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Charlie Conner representing Arlon Group from New York, NY. and yours truly as navigator. We dead headed from Indianapolis to Marion where we started our sampling. We went from there to Wabash and then on a about straight line across to the Illinois border east of Kankakee. Counties we sampled in IN included Grant, Wabash, Kosciusko, Marshall, Fulton, Pulaski and Jasper.
Corn yields on today’s route were equally as variable as yesterday’s OH route although the high and low yield on the route weren’t far apart geographically. We recorded a low of 65 bu./acre in Marshall Co. and the next sample we pulled was our high at 223 bu./acre in Newton Co. This field was irrigated so it goes to show what a difference a little water at the right time makes. We happened to talk to a couple local ladies riding in a Gator who claimed the farmer had been running the irrigation almost every day. There was corn that was still pollinating in one of the fields where we stopped today and others where the milk line was close to ½ way down already. On the soybean side, pod counts were on the low side with an average of 1034 on our route. A lot of flat pods yet and it will take some rain in order for these fields to maintain the pods they have.
Being a bug, weed and disease guy, I was more in my element today. There actually were some issues today. Not all were serious on our route but they were noticed. On the corn we found gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and common rust. There was of course some N deficiency, along with some lodging where western corn rootworm beetles were prevalent. In the soybeans we found the first SDS we’ve seen on this Crop Tour along with a few Japanese beetles and spider mites in a few of the fields where it was very dry in Pulaski Co. A couple of the fields had levels of soybean aphids that were approaching threshold levels. It never hurts to take a look to see what kind of pressure you might have. While the yields will likely be down from last year, there still is no reason to let this pest take bushels off the top with prices where they are.
The IN crop got some much-needed rain in the form of a thunderstorm that came highballing across IL and through the area we’d just sampled. It probably wasn’t enough to save the crop but it should buy it some time until the next rain to maintain the potential that was there on our route.
Speaking of the rain, it was an ominous looking storm when we saw it coming at us as we were about to cross the IL/IN border. We wasted no time getting our last IN sample and moving into IL where we had some lunch. In the meantime I discovered the rain suit I’d made sure I bought at the last minute before the Crop Tour was riding around in my suitcase being hauled by Chuck Roth. Since it looked like it was going to continue to rain heavily, I made an executive decision to head to Wally World in Kankakee and get another rain suit as well as some overshoes. Accomplishing that feat, we pulled some more samples until we had to haul Charlie to the airport. The storm had knocked all the traffic lights out so it was mass pandemonium trying to get back into town. To make matters worse, when we pulled into the hotel we couldn’t find the corn yield data sheet. Charlie had left it in his folder and taken it with him by mistake. Thanks to some fast thinking by Julie Root, an e-mail was sent for him to call as soon as he got the message. His flight was supposed to leave soon so we had little hope of seeing the data until he reached Chicago. Minutes later my cell phone rang. His flight had been delayed so we proceeded to transfer the info onto another data sheet, thus averting a disaster. There is nothing we crop scouts can’t overcome folks.
Tomorrow it’s on to finish IL crop estimates. For now it’s time for some much-needed sleep.