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From the Rows: Day 1 (Chip Flory)

August 23, 2011
By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Pro Farmer Editorial Director

From the Rows with Chip Flory

OK, I'm not going to spend a lot of time with the "fine points" of the Tour tonight. The reason is really simple -- much of the "color" of the Crop Tour is being covered by AgWeb editor Greg Vincent and reporter Sara Schafer. These guys are doing a great job... make sure you check it out.

I saw the best South Dakota corn crop I've ever seen on the Tour today!

There, that's a great example of why you don't pay too close attention to the results from just one route! It's true, I did see the best South Dakota corn crop I've ever seen on the Tour today...but one route doesn't make it a great SD corn crop. We left Sioux Falls and went north into crop district 6 in SD before turning east for a few miles to head south for a lot of miles before turning west for even more miles. My first three stops in SD today were in corn fields with yields between 190 and 200 bu. per acre. These are dryland acres! That's awesome for SD! But, when all 39 samples from SD were averaged today, we had an average yield of 141.1 bu. per acre, down 1.7% from 2010 Tour results.

Doesn't sound like the best SD corn crop I've ever seen, does it? But it was...on one route!

OK, I'm done pounding home that point. Just be careful looking at the results from one route...and be especially careful putting too much "faith" in the results from one stop. I won't discourage anyone from reporting as much information as often as they want from the Tour, but I will encourage YOU to use some sense when thinking about the data coming from the Tour.

OK...now I'm really done.

The average yield in SD of 141.1 bu. per acre, down 1.7% from a year ago, compares to USDA's Aug. 1 estimate of a 4.4% increase from the FINAL 2010 corn yield for the state. That USDA yield is down from a very poor finish for the 2010 crop...the Crop Tour yield compares to the 2010 Crop Tour that anticipated a normal finish to the corn crop. That certainly suggests to me that USDA and the Crop Tour are looking at a very similar crop. That's especially true when you consider USDA estimated the SD average corn yield at 141 on Aug. 1, compared to the Crop Tour yield today at 141.1 bu. per acre. Yeah, we're looking at the "same" corn crop in South Dakota.

For category results from a year ago, be sure to find the final results for Day 1 of the Crop Tour on profarmer.com or agweb.com.

The soybean crop was a real mystery to me. I pulled a soybean sample today that was one of the best I've ever pulled on the Crop Tour -- 2,200-plus pods in a 3'x3' square. (I'll call it "the square" from now on.) That's huge! The next stop about 15 miles down the road resulted in a soybean pod count of between 650 and 700 pods in the square. For the state, the average pod count was 1,107 pods in the square, down 12.3% from last year.

Now is the right time to bring out the warning about the pod counts. I just gave you today's results for SD, but I'll use Nebraska as an example. I look at the total number of bushels produced per 1,000 pods counted in the square after USDA puts the final yield estimate on each state. Over the last five years, the number of bushels per 1,000 pods counted in NE has ranged from 36 bu. to 42 bu. I'm using NE as the example because I'm convinced NE corn growers are the best and most consistent bean producers in the country. (No, I'm not kidding. I'm an Iowa boy who's seen too many good things from the NE bean growers!) If the range is 36 bu. to 42 bu. per 1,000 pods counted in NE, the range is even wider in SD. It all depends on how much water is available to the crop today...and how much water is available to the crop going forward. For now, let's just say the SD bean crop has enough pods to be better than average. If it gets another shot of rain (like the rain moving through SD tonight), the bean crop there will probably be at least as good as last year.

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