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From the Rows - Day 1 - Chip Flory

August 20, 2013
By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Pro Farmer Editorial Director

From the Rows - Chip Flory - Day 1 Western Tour

Day 1 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour is in the books... and as expected, it was full of surprises.

That's what the Crop Tour should do... it should surprise scouts with what it reveals and it did just that on day one of the 2013 tour. So... how can you actually "expect a surprise?" I mean... if you expect it, it really can't be a surprise, right?

I knew the South Dakota corn crop was going to be much better than last year and probably better than the last three years, but I was surprised at how good it really is. There's not much disease to talk about... but that should be expected. We measured a lot of yield potential, but that should also be expected. The crop showed us everything a young crop should show us... a lot of yield potential but very few guarantees.

Last year, the crop across all areas of the Corn Belt was mature. It was burnt up... but it was mature. That means last year's Tour measured actual yield, not yield potential. The year, we measured yield potential. I do several radio interviews each day on Crop Tour and I caught myself repeating the same refrain throughout the day: "The weather from this point forward will be just as important in determining yield as the weather from the start of the growing season to this point." Simply put... there's a lot to be determined on this crop. We didn't measure yield on today's Tour through South Dakota, we measured yield potential.

We're not going to apologize for that... facts are facts. I'd like to say we are confident in the South Dakota corn crop will end up as good as we measured today, but the simple fact of the matter is that all depends on September and, in some cases, the first 10 days of October to finally figure out if this corn crop is really as good as it might be.

The corn and soybean crops are mostly disease free, but that's likely a function of the slow development of the crop. Some of the fields out there have severe weed pressure, but it was so "occasional" that I've got to wonder why it's happening (management, simply couldn't get in the field to control weeds, or if there are some rotational issues). I do know I saw way too many volunteer soybeans growing in corn fields today. These beans are a "hidden weed" - you can't see them from the road and they're a harbor for soybean diseases and other pests to hide on for a year before the bean crop comes back next year. And there's no denying that a "healthy" stand of beans inside a corn field is draining nutrients and moisture this year's corn crop needs to build a big yield. It's tough to figure how much impact "soy weeds" are having on the corn crop, but it is having a negative impact on corn yield potential.

Okay... on to the numbers:

Ear counts are up big-time from last year and the three-year average. Ear counts in 60-foot of row (actually, two 30-foot rows) was 82.85, up 58% from last year's 52.13 and up 14.8% from the three-year average.

Average grain length of 7.16 inches in South Dakota is up 57% from last year and up 20.3% from the three year average.

Average number of kernel rows around the ear is 16.13, up 20% from last year and up 8% from the three-year average.

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