Corn count bests beans. Seems like each year on the Tour you find one of those interesting stops. We had one in Illinois today where the yield in the corn field actually was higher than the pod count in the soybean field. The corn yield: 185 bu. per acre. The soybean pod count in a 3ft.x3ft. square: 182 pods. That doesn't happen often as typically the pod counts are in the several hundred to over 1,000 pods or more as you all know from following Tour data over the year. No that wasn't widespread, but it was just something you don't typically see.
On to the numbers -- Illinois: The average corn yield for Illinois came in at 166.53 bu. per acre, up 0.4% from 167.17 bu. per acre measured year-ago. That's probably a bit of a surprise since USDA on Aug. 1 was up 3.45% from year-ago. But we just didn't measure corn yield out of Illinois that would put it ahead of 2009. And, as I've noted on the Ohio and Indiana corn crop, the Illinois corn crop is much further down the road that what we've seen the past two Tours. So what we've measured probably should probably be maintained until the combines roll.
In fact, there has been corn combined into central Illinois this week, with at least one report of corn coming out of the field near Champaign at 17% moisture with a yield around 160 in a field that typically is around 200 bushel per acre.
Grain length is probably the key. Our data revealed an average grain length in the state of 6.2 inches compared to 6.47 inches last year. We did see more tip back on ears in Illinois this year, perhaps not a lot, but there was some in many of the samples that we pulled.
And there are definitely some problem areas. The southern areas that we sample on the Tour were certainly less than stellar and those in the Illinois River valley were exhibiting signs of multiple stresses -- moisture and heat. It appeared that corn received a bit too much moisture early on and there were some emergence or planting equipment issues. Then, heat must have set in at the wrong time because again in those river bottom areas in particular, the pollination and grain fill were affected.
For soybeans, we found a whopping 1308.31 pods in a 3ftx3ft. square, up 18.6% from the 1102.80 pods measured last year. But remember last year's result was quite a decline from 2008, too. So that brought things back nicely.
We did see some SDS in soybean fields, but not to the extent that we saw in some portions of Indiana. Still, it's probably going to be a factor we'll have to watch next year and beyond in Illinois.
But there are some areas of Illinois where you will find soybeans that are still blooming. One field we stopped in today had no pods set as of yet and were still in full bloom. Others like the one I mentioned above were also still blooming with some plantings have set at least a few pods already.
And we're probably talking about potential with the Illinois bean crop. There were as many of the fat, plump pods like we saw in Indiana and Ohio, even though the pod counts were up.
So that will really put the focus on bean size in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. That will have a big say in what happens to the final soybean yield for Illinois.
Bottom line on the beans: It is an above-average crop (it even came in about 70 pods or 6% higher than the three-year average of our Tour data for Illinois), but it will need a little help from Mother Nature to realize all the potential we measured in those fields here on the 2010 edition of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.
It also underscores that conditions which appear to create hurdles for corn don't do the same for beans.
Next up? Finish off our sampling in the rest of Iowa tomorrow night where we'll join up with our western Tour entourage. Then it's final Iowa and Minnesota numbers and then putting together the Pro Farmer corn and soybean crop estimates.
Click here for complete 2010 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Coverage.