From the Rows with Brian Grete
The third day of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour took my route west and north out of Bloomington through crop districts 4, 2 and 1 in Illinois. We sampled fields in the counties of McLean, Woodford, Marshall, LaSalle, Bureau and Henry. Corn yield calculations from our samples ranged from 181.8 bu. per acre to 213.1 bushels. The average yield on my route through Illinois today was 198.9 bu. per acre.
When the samples from all 12 eastern Tour routes were tabulated, the Illinois corn yield came in at 196.96 bu. per acre, up 15.5% from year-ago and 31.9% above the 3-year Tour average. Illinois definitely has a very strong corn crop this year. In fact, it's the best corn crop I've ever seen for a state on Tour. But I don't think it's big enough to live up to the very lofty expectations that have been set. And why should it be? After all, some of the wild yield "estimates" that have been floated around were based on secondary ears pumping up yields. Well... when you get out in fields, count ears and pull back silks like we've done this week, there aren't a lot of secondary ears left that will make grain -- not enough to make a difference in yields. The "how big" on Illinois corn yields will be determined by test weight.
As we moved into eastern Iowa, conditions changed dramatically along my route. On five samples in the Iowa counties of Scott, Cedar and Johnson, our average yield was 167 bu. per acre. What stood out the most was the variability -- a range from 115 bu. to 204.5 bu. per acre. The other notable factor was very dry soils. The eastern Iowa corn crop my route saw was obviously stressed from a lack of rains in July and the first three weeks of August.
For soybeans, the average pod count in a 3'x3' square on my route through Illinois today came in at 1,178.4, with a low of 730.8 and a high of 1,560. The fields we sampled basically looked the same from the road, but the pod counts were highly variable. That's why we get out and take actual samples instead of doing a "windshield" tour.
The soybean pod count in a 3'x3' square for all Tour samples in Illinois came in at 1,299.17, which is up 16.4% from year-ago and 19.7% greater than the three-year Tour average.
Much like corn, the soybean crop in eastern Iowa along my route was disappointing. For the five stops we made, the average pod count for a 3'x3' square came in at 952.2. Two of the samples were strong, while three were very low. Dryness was an issue.
On the final day of this year's Tour, scouts will take sample on routes from Iowa City, Iowa, to Rochester, Minnesota.
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