From the Rows - Jason Franck- Day 1 Western Tour
Pro Farmer Crop Tour 2014 is officially in full swing! We hit the road on Monday morning, and coming from eastern Iowa, I had preconceived thoughts about what to expect on the west Tour this year. But as is usually the case on Crop Tour, I was surprised!
Heading into the west Tour starting spot, I was a little surprised at what I saw through northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. Water hemp was everywhere, and the amount of spots that had been replanted or left vacant was a shock to me. I was curious to know how much this would continue throughout our journey.
My group left Sioux Falls and headed west about 20 miles and then turned north. I remember my first field last year in South Dakota; things looked impressive. Today was slightly different! It was surprising to see how the maturity varied so much. Often, we would grab our 3 random sampled ears and 2 of them would seem normal, and 1 would be behind in maturity. From my vantage point, it seemed as if there were many challenges this spring to bring a lot of inconsistency to their crop. Having said that, the numbers were still strong in places.
So, how does the crop look from a stress standpoint? I kept telling my group, that I have not seen this kind of health in a crop for a long time. We did see a little stress here and there, but for the most part, the plants had great color and very little disease to stress the crop. Actually, when we ran into pivots, many were not even pumping water in the South Dakota/ northern Nebraska area. This did change as we moved farther south into Nebraska.
Really I think going into this Tour, many were wondering how good this crop could be and how much time we need to finish it off. Seeing what I saw today confirms that most of the crop (corn & beans) in SD and Nebraska needs 5-6 more weeks of decent weather to make it something special.
We continued heading South through Nebraska with our final destination in Grand Island. As expected, the dry land was showing moisture stress. What I found to be most unusual was how the irrigated areas were not pumping out huge yields. Why is that? In many cases, our group was finding a lower ear count. Three things were showing up, 1) drowned out areas that had been replanted, 2) hail damage that was more noticeable this year than I have ever seen before, and 3) weed pressure/water hemp that was showing up throughout most of these fields.
The soybeans that we observed in Nebraska, like the ones we saw in South Dakota, seemed to be lacking in maturity. Many of the pods were extremely flat-seeded and seemed to be lacking that top cluster. On the bright side, the pod counts were higher than I expected. Additionally, we went the whole day finding only one field with any disease pressure of significance to challenge yield. This should favor the growers if Mother Nature can provide the correct finish.
So, as always, day one was an education. As the scouts talked along the way, and conversed at the end of the day, they all realized that this crop has a way to go but also is going to be good on average. The market/growers are hungry for information, and we are ready for the call of duty to provide this valued asset.