Brad Nelson, a producer near Albert Lea, Minn., and veteran Midwest Crop Tour scout, shows immature Iowa corn.
Western Iowa corn and soybeans still have potential, up to a point, but to pull it off crops need ideal conditions between now and harvest and no early frost.
There is no margin for error from here on out, simple as that. Even with that, no bin busters are anticipated by Pro Farmer’s Midwest Crop Tour scouts who pulled samples for the three crop reporting districts.
"Based on what I saw, western Iowa won’t make up for severe losses in Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota," says Brad Nelson, a corn and soybean producer near Albert Lea, Minn., and veteran scout. "It’s just going to be an ordinary crop, not a bin buster."
Listen to a full audio report from Pro Farmer editor Chip Flory:
The Iowa corn crop got progressively worse moving south to north largely because extremely wet conditions delayed planting, the result largely being an immature crop farther north for late August, adds John Orr, scout and crop and livestock producer near Fayette, Iowa.
Overarching reasons: late planting, lack of rainfall, nitrogen losses and lack of growing degree units. Scouts on other legs, though certainly not all, had similar experiences. The one exception to what Nelson and Orr found was in extreme western Iowa not far from the Missouri River that has had a palette of better growing conditions, notably rainfall.
For Southwest, West Central and Northwest Iowa, Crop Tour yields averaged between 160.12 to 175.65 bushels per acre for corn, varying of course by crop reporting district. While an improvement over the three-year average, it’s not a huge one. Iowa totals will be released Thursday evening, August 22. In its August Crop Production report, USDA pegged Iowa’s expected yield of 163.
"This crop has a long ways to go," says Chip Flory, Western Tour Director and Editor, Pro Farmer. "September will tell the story on Iowa." Illustrating how strange the year is for Iowa, Flory adds this: "Heading North of Highway 169 from Ft. Dodge, fields were burnt up, it looked like a year ago. The next field was prevented plant." Looking not only at Iowa, he wonders whether reports suggesting high to excellent growing conditions might be exaggerated. "We planted this crop so late, how can you have high expectations?"
Critical though the corn story is for western Iowa, the larger story at the moment might in fact be soybeans. "We saw three or four pods on a plant," says Jay Merryman, a scout from Marshalltown, Iowa. "We don’t have real potential out there on a lot of beans. I was surprised. The story right now, today, is beans."
Tour estimates bear that out. Pod counts for western Iowa ranged from 802.98 to 1,101.49, below levels agronomists consider necessary for optimal yields. This is below the three-year average of 1,140.13 to 1217.68, and that includes the drought year of 2012.
For More Information See full coverage of the 2013 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, hosted by Pro Farmer.
DuPont Pioneer has been the Tour’s lead sponsor since 2008. Other sponsors include RCIS, Chevy Truck, DuPont Crop Protection, GEOSYS, HTS Ag, Farm Credit Services of America and Montag Manufacturing