While many fields look good from the road, an aerial view reveals a bigger picture.
Yellow corn. Bare dirt in the middle of green fields. A clear definition of where tile line is and where it isn’t. This is the view in northern Iowa this year.
"This is just the edge of where it gets really wet," says Craig Schutte, a farmer and Pioneer dealer near Independence, Iowa. "From here on north, up through Rochester, it’s much, much worse."
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Schutte is also a pilot, and he’s had a 1,000-foot view of this year’s inconsistent crop since it got planted.
"Now, there are some good fields, but there aren't any perfect fields this year," he told AgDay and U.S. Farm Report.
He says by May 15, he knew these productive Iowa fields were in trouble.
"We can see where it was so wet it didn't germinate correctly," says Schutte. "You saw it from the air. That pretty well tells it all."
While USDA is still trying to get a handle on just how many bare acres are out there this year, Farm Service Agency (FSA) released its initial numbers in August. In the report, FSA says Minnesota has 875,000 acres of prevent plant and Iowa has 720,000 acres.
Much of what didn’t get planted is either overgrown with weeds or now planted in cover crops, but it still paints the tough picture of what these Iowa farmers have endured.
"When we were out three weeks ago, we estimated 20% was prevent plant or wasn't growing between the tile lines," Schutte says.
If farmers need proof of how effective tiling fields can be, this year provided just that.
"If you want to find your tile lines, it's a perfect year. You can see all of them," says Schutte.
Another clear image was the yellow spots painted across lush green fields, signaling nitrogen loss could pull overall yield numbers down.
While many of these fields looked good from the road, the birds-eye view reveals this bigger picture.