Corn yield surges 15.5% compared to last year; soybean pod counts jump 16.4%.
Even Brian Grete, who has sounded mighty skeptical this week about the much-discussed crop, sounded a bit impressed about what he saw in Illinois on Wednesday. "This Illinois corn crop has been advertised as the best ever, and it is dang uniform," he told the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour crowd in Coralville, Iowa.
And yes, it appears to be "monstrous," according to Grete. Scouting reports for the Pro Farmer tour estimate a yield of 197.96 bu. per acre, which translates into a 15.5% jump compared to last year.
While Illinois ear counts are up just 3.1%, those corn plants are producing slightly fatter and significantly longer ears. Kernel rows grew just 1.5 % to an average of 15.73. But grain length for Illinois ears stretched to 7.07 inches, which represents an increase of 12.4% year-over-year.
Statewide, Illinois produced 2.1 billion bushels of corn last year, making it second in the country only to Iowa in terms of corn production, according to USDA-NASS figures.
But Hawkeye growers might not want to get too comfortable in that top spot. "This is a good crop," says Illinois farmer Rodney Frick says of his state’s corn plants. "I’ve been on [the crop tour] nine years. This is one of the better corn crops I’ve seen—maybe the best." Scout David Moore also thought the Illinois crop looked good. "Today, we didn’t stumble into a bad field," said the Dallas commodity trader, whose group recorded an average estimated yield of 191 bu. per acre for its 10 Illinois samples.
Unlike Ohio and Indiana, where scouts found great variability in the corn stands, Illinois fields appeared to be remarkably similar in terms of plant health and crop quality. "The way you build a really, really big crop statewide is through consistency," Grete said.
Western Iowa, in contrast, was more mixed. In Muscatine County, Frick and Moore’s group quickly saw the range, finding yields that went from 209.6 bu. per acre to 135.5 bu. per acre. Overall, the three districts in Western Iowa posted average yields between 177 and 181 bu. per acre. (Complete results for Iowa will be released Thursday night.)
Like corn, Illinois beans are also putting up some big numbers this year. According to scout reports, pod counts for a 3-foot row of soybeans hit an average of 744.85, which is a 17% increase compared to last year. Counts for a 3’x3’ plot also jumped more than 16% year-over-year to land at an average of 1,299.
Those numbers could rise even higher. Compared to 2013, scout reports indicated significantly higher moisture in the bean fields this year. "That tells me [the soybean crop] has the potential to add more yield," Grete said.
Frick would agree. "There’s still room for improvement," said the farmer, who found an Illinois field with an eye-popping average 3’x3’ pod count of more than 5,000, thanks to plants dripping with between 100 and 200 pods. But he doesn’t think the opportunity is universal. "Some have the potential [to produce more soybeans] if they get rain, some don’t, and some are already past it," he said.
Like corn, soybeans are a major crop in Illinois. In 2013, the state produced 462 million bushels, according to USDA-NASS figures, with an average yield of 49 bu. per acre.
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