Western Tour Report, Day 2 -- Big Crop!
Don't panic... the Nebraska corn crop is good... really good. The bean crop isn't too bad, either.
First warning of a big Nebraska corn crop comes from western leg coordinator Mike Walsten. He pointed out that we had 180 growers in Grand Island after the first day of touring through the northeast part of the state. That's about four times (yes... seriously... four times!) the number of growers that normally show up for our meeting in Grand Island. When I asked, "What's up?" The answer was, "It rained." Boy has it rained in Nebraska. I'm not saying the corn and bean crop in the southeast part of the state can maximize yield with the water already in the ground, but it will at least get close.
In Nebraska City tonight, I asked the roughly 150 growers at the meeting to challenge our findings. In fact... I asked the growers to "fight with me," or at least challenge me, regarding our findings from this year's Crop Tour. I even begged the growers to fight with me. None of them did... a few of them even worked up the nerve to speak into the mic and say, "It's there."
So... why all the "lead up" and "dramatics" when all we're doing is talking about the results of the Midwest Crop Tour. It's pretty simple... it's because we found a really good corn crop in Nebraska this year. Better than year-ago... much better than year-ago. So...let's get to the numbers.
In Nebraska, the average calculated corn yield was 158.82 bu. per acre. I know... doesn't sound great, but that's up 11.9% from year-ago. There are two categories that produced the big jump from year-ago: The average number of ears in 60-foot of row jumped to 83.59, up 5.2% from the 3-year-average and the average grain length (in inches) was at 7.37 inches, up 7.9% from the three-year average. Another contributer to yield was a drop in the average row space to 30.91 inches...a 1.5% drop from the three-year average. The only thing working against the increase was a 0.75% drop in the average number of kernel rows around the ear.
That's the supporting evidence...so I'll just add this. This is the best dryland corn crop I've seen in Nebraska. And when the dryland crop in Nebraska is good, the whole corn crop in Nebraska is good. (It's just too hard to "hurt" the irrigated crop.)
On soybeans, the average number of pods in a 3'X3' square came in at 1,238.9, 6.5% higher than the three-year average. Most importantly, the crop has got some moisture to finish... and some great potential to be USDA's Aug. 1 estimate of 49 bu. per acre in Nebraska. But, Nebraska has proven it's really tough to push above 50 bu. per acre in the state. To push much higher than 50 bu. per acre, the finish on the crop will have to be really good.
Finally...a couple of comments from a veteran crop scout. His observation is, "Nearly all new corn seeds are coming out with a minumum of 2 or 3 fungicide and systemic insecticides to help improve stand count and initial plant health. Also, there's a huge increase in rootworm tolerant corn...and that's worth 15 bu. per acre. What guys did was they took the money they made in 2008 and put it into 2009 inputs, especially seed technology...and it's going to show in the results through larger kernel size, more harvestable plants and less insect and disease pressure. Also, the cool weather slows maturity, but ups corn and soybean seed and kernel size."
So there you have it. A big corn yield in Nebraska, and the evidence to support it. And the 150 Nebraska corn growers in Nebraska City agreed.