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From the Rows -- Day 4 Western Tour with Terry Johnston

August 26, 2011
By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Pro Farmer Editorial Director

Today’s From the Rows was written by Terry Johnston. Chip Flory was working on the Pro Farmer crop estimates and fully endorses Terry’s comments. (That’s supposed to be a joke, but it’s 3:10 a.m. and I’m not sure if it’s funny or not!)

Another day of sunshine today, four days in a row…that hasn’t happened out here on the western tour for several years. We headed out early this morning from Spencer, Iowa, headed for Austin, Minn. My favorite coffee shop/bakery (stop there every year) was closed this morning, but thankfully another was spotted just a couple blocks down…trust me, we needed the boost!

With great expectations, we made our way north of I-90 into Minnesota a few miles and then headed east. We noticed right away the crops were lacking moisture. As we started to sample, it became evident that it had been a while since there had been significant rainfall. Corn plants were showing signs of stress, and, after pulling a few ears, it was evident that rainfall had been short. While ear counts were good, most lacked length and virtually every one had tip-back.

There has been stress on the crop from a cool, wet spring to a hot, dry summer. Even so, there was surprisingly little disease and insect pressure in the corn fields. We were on the lookout for Goss’s wilt, but found it in only a couple of fields. There were some other leaf diseases out there, but nothing substantial.

This southern Minnesota corn crop was probably the least variable we have seen on our routes this week, but that doesn’t mean it was a good crop…it just means it was the most consistent crop we looked at this week. Bottom line is the Minnesota corn crop is not as good as last year, and even some late-season rains will not likely impact yield that much.

The bean fields today were basically the same that we saw the past three days. As we scouted, we found virtually no insects or diseases in the beans. While much of the crop showed minor to severe drought stress, there is still good potential for the crop to yield well. In order for that to happen, it will have to rain. And rain now. If rains don’t come soon, damage will become irreversible. The Minnesota bean crop has good potential, but it will take timely rains over a significant area to help it realize that potential.

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