From the Rows with Chip Flory --
Day 4 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour
Okay... to 399 of the 400 farmers that came to the meeting in Austin tonight -- I need to apologize for my "outburst." Wow... that got me fired up. I'm not going to get into the details here. Those that were there know what I'm talking about.... But I shouldn't have gotten as "fired up" as I was. I should have calmly explained to the guy why he was wrong.
Now... lets get to the numbers from today. Roger will cover the results from Iowa (which will be 100% more interesting that the Minnesota comments) and I'll cover Minnesota. Since I've just set you up to be bored with the Minnesota results, I'll tell you the Minnesota corn yield came in 0.08% above year-ago. Yep... less than one-tenth of one percent above last year. USDA on Aug. 1 has the corn crop up 2.3% from year-ago, but we didn't find much of that increase. That doesn't mean the Minnesota crop can't be up more than what we saw... we understand that. The reason I say that is because 4 of the 5 crop districts we sampled in Minnesota generated a yield estimate above year-ago. The only district with a lower-than-year-ago corn yield estimate was district 8 in the south-central part of the state. That's the area that is heaviest sampled on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour (because it's the most intense corn and soybean production area in the state)... so the problems we saw there hold more weight that if we'd seen similar conditions in crop district 5 (central). But... with the highest number of samples coming out of the south-central part of the state, we could also argue those samples provide the most accurate picture of yield potential in the state. In other words, we know both sides of the argument!
Nonetheless, the final Minnesota corn yield estimate came in at 185.46 bu. per acre... up from last year's 185.31. The thing that makes that yield "surprising" is all the hype that's been given to Minnesota this year. I entered the state expected to find nothing but record-breaking corn yields. Instead, we found just enough corn to get slightly above last year's record. That means the Minnesota corn crop is awesome... just not as awesome as most people expected it to be.
The bean crop provided another surge over year-ago numbers with the average number of pods in a 3'-by-3' square up a shocking 26% from last year. That does not mean we see bean yields up 26% from last year.
Maturity of the bean crop from across the western Corn Belt is way ahead of last year.. In fact... we saw very few blooms that typically provide that late-season push for bean yields. I think the "extra" pods we counted this year were just blooms last year. Eventually, the blooms we saw last year must have made pods and beans to add to last year's bean yield. This year, the "late flush" of blooms has already turned into pods. In other words, if we would have toured the western Corn Belt in the middle of September last year... we might have found a pod count very similar to the count we collected this year. Translation: It's a really good bean crop in the western and northern Corn Belt... but it's not as good (compared to last year) as the pod counts suggest.
There's a lot more to say about the Minnesota corn and soybean crops, but we've got a lot of work to do tonight. I'll comment more on the Gopher crop next week.
We awarded another Master Scout award tonight. This is an award we do not take lightly. To receive this award, you've got to show dedication to the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour by "showing up" year to year and working hard on the Tour. But most importantly, you must be an excellent (and willing) communicator and teacher. Specifically... you've got to have the "farm smarts" and communication skills required to teach a non-farm scout about farming... and to be an advocate for U.S. agriculture. The award this year went to a very deserving Neil Hadley of Union, Iowa. Neil has been on several western Crop Tours, but (more importantly) he's helped educate a new generation on non-farm crop scouts to help close the "urban-rural" gap in the U.S. -- Congratulations Neil!!