2016 Crop Tour Preview: Will Tip Back Slow Down Red Hot Illinois Corn Yields?

August 18, 2016 05:02 AM
2016 Crop Tour Preview: Will Tip Back Slow Down Red Hot Illinois Corn Yields?

The August 2016 USDA corn and soybean yield projections were met with a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s been a great production year, but will it be a record-breaker, as USDA predicts?

In Illinois, USDA’s corn prediction is 200 bu. per acre, which would represent double digit gains over last year’s 175 bu. per acre crop. But could a tip back problem be lurking in the Land of Lincoln? Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, has heard some chatter.

“There has been some recent discussion about unfilled ear tips and whether or not this might mean lower yields than the appearance of the crop leads us to believe,” he notes. “[With tip back], the idea is that the end of the cob has been exposed by lack of kernels there … [and] missing kernels can be aborted kernels – ones that were fertilized but stopped developing – or can be kernel initials that weren’t fertilized due to problems with the pollination process.”

But Nafziger warns against discounting Illinois yields too steeply.

“While low kernels numbers per acre and low yields do go together, it’s important in a year like this to consider the overall condition of the crop and to focus on how many kernels are present before worrying about how many kernels seem to be missing,” he says. “We often see some amount of tip back even in good years, and this may have no effect on yield if kernel numbers are still high.”

According to the latest USDA-NASS crop condition report, both corn and soybean crops are doing extremely well in Illinois so far. A total of 84% of the corn crop is rated “good” or “excellent.” Similarly, 80% of the soybean crop is rated “good” or “excellent” in the state.

Few obstacles remain that would cause these big yields to stumble. The latest drought monitor, which shows some dryness concerns popping up in nearby states such as Iowa, Michigan and Ohio, leaves Illinois virtually unscathed.

In a separate analysis, ag tech startup Descartes Labs used satellite imagery and other data to estimate the 2016 Illinois corn crop at 195.2 bu. per acre – the highest of any Corn Belt state.

Will 2016 Pro Farmer Crop Tour scouts find the bin-busting corn and soybean yields others have estimated for Illinois? Tune in next week to find out.

AgWeb will be posting a series of previews for the states covered by the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour: OhioIndiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota

Be sure to follow AgWeb’s coverage of Farm Journal Media’s Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Watch reports from the field by following Farm Journal Media journalists along for the ride: Alison Rice at @agweb_alison, Ben Potter at @potterben, Chip Flory at @ChipFlory, Brian Grete at @bgrete, and Betsy Jibben at @BetsyJibben. And check AgWeb each evening this week for the day’s freshest summary on what they’re seeing in the field.

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