From the Rows - Chip Flory - Western Tour Day 2
Day 2 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour ended just like I hoped it would... all the scouts made it from Grand Island to Nebraska City safe and sound.
Unfortunately, we found exactly what we feared would. A poor corn and soybean crop in Nebraska.
We stopped and talked with Bob and Jeanie near St. Mary, NE, as they were harvesting their 2012 corn crop. It was dryland corn and the moisture level in a half-mile row ranged from 12.1% to nearly 18%. The yield monitor showed a yield that ranged from the low 30 bu. per acre to as much as 130 bu. per acre (again within the same half-mile row). That's an incredible example of how variable this year's crop is... if you can find 100 bu. yield difference within the same row, that should be all the evidence you need to understand how difficult it will be to estimate yields in the western Corn Belt this year.
Bob is a great guy... and Jeanie is a great lady. When Bob saw me and a guy from Connecticut, Chicago and London (yes, London, England) standing at the edge of the filed as I was waving my arms frantically trying to explain how a combine works, he could have easily shook his head, turned the combine around and headed back down the row. Instead, Bob pulled forward, shut it down and by the time he hit the bottom step I was there to shake his hand and he had a smile on his face. A half hour later, our fiend from London that had never seen a combine in action had made a round sitting in the cab.
Oliver (from London) said, "I've learned a lot on Crop Tour, but the 15 or 20 minutes I spent in the combine with Bob was the best learning experience I've had."
That, my friends, is what the Crop Tour is all about. Later, Oliver made this observation: "You can feel like you're a part of the Crop Tour by reading about it and reading all the tweets from scouts, but I'll guarantee Twitter won't get you a ride on a John Deere combine in St. Mary, Nebraska!"
Excellent point, Oliver. And I'll say it again: That, my friends, is what the Crop Tour is all about.
But lets back up about 7 hours in the day. We were driving down a gravel road in (I think) Clay Co., NE, and we saw some shiny new steel standing tall on the horizon. I kept the Chevy pointed toward the bin and it just kept getting bigger and bigger as we got closer. It was a 200,000-bu.-bin that was getting tied into existing storage of about 150,000 bushels. New drier, new leg and a new pit. What a great opportunity to talk with three non-farming scouts about what it takes to grow, harvest and store a corn crop.
Again... that's what the Crop Tour is all about.
And the Crop Tour is also about collecting corn and soybean yield data. There's been more coverage of the Crop Tour than ever before and I'm struggling to understand exactly why it's happening. It's a bad crop... USDA told us it was a bad crop as of August 1 with a national average corn yield of 123.4 bu. per acre and a national average soybean yield of 36.1 bu. per acre. How much worse does it need to be before it's "bad enough." Honestly, this is all we really need to know about the 2012 crops: They're too small. We're not going to produce enough corn or soybeans to meet all the potential demand.