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Stunningly Low Yields in South Dakota

August 21, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
SD corn ear
Yield potential was so low in the South Dakota corn field that most of it has already been harvested for silage.  

Both corn and soybean yield estimates are down nearly 50% from last year.


This year, it’s hard to be optimistic about yields in South Dakota. No rainfall and extreme heat sucked the life out of most of the corn and soybean crops measured on the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

On Aug. 10, USDA forecast South Dakota to have a 98 bu./acre average corn yield. The estimates coming from the Tour are even lower.

After 45 corn samples and 42 soybean samples, yield estimates from the Tour are:

  • Soybeans: 584.93 pods in 3’ by 3’
  • Corn: 74.26 bu./acre

Both the soybean and corn estimates are down nearly 50% from 2011 Tour estimates. "This is a crippling drop for the state of South Dakota," says Chip Flory, Pro Farmer editor.

He says ear counts were what brought down the corn yield estimates. For soybeans, he says while soybeans like stress in most cases, they were under stress for too long this year.

How Many Acres Will Be Abandoned?

Crop scout Lonnie Wells, of Country Hedging out of Kansas City, Mo., says what surprised him most from his journeys through South Dakota on Monday was the empty fields. "The extremely large number of acres already chopped for silage really amazed us."

Marty Tegtmeier, a farmer Sumner, Iowa, and experienced crop scout, says he also has never seen so many fields harvested for silage. The fields that weren’t harvested, had little yield potential, with some corn fields coming in at 12 bu./acre.

"South Dakota crops just didn’t have water. Even some of the irrigated fields, didn’t look as good as other years, because of too much heat. Some of the irrigated fields looked more like dryland fields."

For soybeans, Tegtmeier says the field samples were a little more favorable. "The beans were not as good as last year, but relatively good. They have taken the heat really well, and look better than I expected."

On Friday, Pro Farmer will release its national-average yield and production estimates for both corn and soybeans. To follow coverage of the event, visit and
For More Information
Learn more about the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Follow along on Twitter with the hash tag #pftour12.
Take your own field measurements and participate in Pro Farmer’s Virtual Crop Tour


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RELATED TOPICS: Crop Tour Coverage

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