As Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour scouts begin to fan across Iowa next week, they’ll likely find promising looking corn and soybean fields in the state, particularly in northeast Iowa.
“Northeast Iowa seemed to get nice rains in June that missed the rest of the state,” says Mark Licht, Iowa State University cropping systems agronomist. “The rest of the state was 4 degrees hotter and drier than normal.”
That troubles agronomists, who are wondering if yields might disappoint in select parts of Iowa. Why? High temperatures and lack of moisture.
“What I’m hearing a lot of—especially in the southeast corn of the state—is kernels might be smaller in size compared to a normal year with less biomass then what we might expect,” Licht says. “Not good as we look toward harvest.”
Excessive heat could be to blame for corn’s poor kernel weight. “From a corn standpoint, I think the biggest concern is that the heat is pushing the crop to maturity very rapidly, which lessens the amount of time the plants have to fill the kernels,” says Virgil Schmitt, ISU Extension agronomist. “I’m not sure if the USDA yield projection was based only on kernel counts or if it also considered the weather impact on kernel weight.”
Last year, Iowa posted a statewide average corn yield of 192 bpa; USDA estimates a 197 bpa yield in 2016.
Soybeans still have a long road ahead of them as farmers near harvest. “The biggest issue here is soybean sudden death syndrome,” Schmitt says. “It started showing up about three weeks ago. Some fields appear to have a little while others are injured field wide. The later in the season the plants are injured, the less the yield loss will be.”
In 2015, Iowa farmers recorded a statewide average yield of 56.5 bpa for soybeans. This year, USDA currently only expects a mild uptick to 57 bpa, according to its most recent estimates.
Over much of the state however, yields will be normal, but checking fields can give an idea if fields are in line with expectations, exceeding or falling short on yields this year. While checking fields farmers can determine harvest timing and order.
“Across the state we’re seeing the corn and soybean crop ahead of schedule,” Licht says. “This has slowed a little since pollination, but still about 7 to 10 days ahead.”
AgWeb will be posting a series of previews for the states covered by the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota.
The 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, hosted by Pro Farmer, runs Aug. 22 through Aug. 25. Follow the tour on Twitter with the hashtag #pftour16. Or, you can join the Crop Tour from your own backyard and win! Upload your crop photos on Instagram with the hashtag #pftfour16 to enter the Midwest Crop Tour Sweepstakes. Learn more here!