Day 4 western comments from Chip and Terry

10:55AM Aug 21, 2009
( )

Western Tour Report, Day 3 -- Man-o-Man is it a good crop out west!

Note: Terry and Chip traveled together through southern Minnesota today, so we'll combine our comments into one for tonight's report.

For the first time on this year's Crop Tour, we ran into some variability. Western Iowa had it's "holes" in the corn crop, but it was a solid corn crop from south to north. Nebraska... well, Nebraska really didn't have many holes. South Dakota is a maturity issue -- that crop has some work to do to get to the finish line before Jack Frost arrives.

And then there's Minnesota. Minnesota has it's holes, has some crop that has to hustle to get to the finish line before the growing season comes to an end and it has some areas where it's really hard to find anything wrong with the crop. In other words, the Minnesota corn crop was everything the other three states on the western leg of the 2009 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour had. But when it was all wrapped up today, the Crop Tour is pointing the Minnesota crop to a very good yield... probably better than the 167 bu. per acre estimated by USDA on Aug. 1.

Here's why I say that -- USDA's Aug. 1 estimate was up 1.8% from last year's final yield peg of 164 bu. per acre... the Crop Tour corn yield was up 3.9% from last year's Tour results. That means we "found" a few more bushels than did USDA compared to year-ago.

The Crop Tour yield for Minnesota was 185.3 bu. per acre. Now... before that shakes you up too much, the Crop Tour consistently measured the crop in Minnesota too big. In fact, on average since 2001, we've measured the crop 12.38 bu. too high. The reason is because we don't get into traditionally lower-yielding areas in central and even northern Minnesota.

Here's the quick summary of what we saw in Minnesota, from west to east --

The corn crop in the southwest part of the state put on yield before a dry spell hit... and the crop had enough sub-soil water to hold onto that yield.

In south-central Minnesota, some fields were hit by dry conditions at just the wrong time and ears are tipped back. But, that was just on the route that I ran. Most other routes came back today with excellent results out of Minnesota's crop district 8.

As my route slid under I-35 and into crop district 9, we didn't make many stops, but the yield potential on corn came back

And the Crop Tour proved a tried-and-true theory (again!). For years, we've been telling you that it's not unusual for scouts to find excellent corn yield potential right next to a "poor" pod count in the bean field next door. Conversely, it's not unusual to find a "poor" corn yield right next to a "great" pod count in the field next door. Corn and beans, like we've said many times, are "different animals" -- what's good for one crop isn't necessarily good for the other. So, I don't think it's any surprise that the route we traveled today saw some of the only "low" corn yield estimates, but came home to Austin with an average pod count above year-ago.

We did that only to find out the rest of the routes were finding pod counts below year-ago in Minnesota. On average for the state, the average pod count in a 3' X 3' square was 983.59, down 2.3% from year-ago. But, a slightly lower pod count does not always translate into a lower-than-year-ago bean yield. Moisture availability is undeniably important to the bean crop at this time of the year, and when the scouts come in with mud on their boots (like they did today), you're better off not to underestimate the ability of the bean crop to finish with better-than-expected yields.

As we saw in the first three states on the western leg of the Tour, there is very little disease, insect or weed problem to talk about. Scouts visiting bean fields today did note some white mold starting to form at the base of bean plants. These beans still have a lot of pod-filling to do, so if the mold problem "blooms" over the next week or so, the bean yield will suffer. But (and this is no surprise), Minnesota bean growers were obviously on the look-out for soybean aphids. We saw some carcasses in bean fields, but very few fields we thought should be sprayed "today" to control aphid populations.

The average pod count in Minnesota -- with the 2.3% drop from year-ago -- suggests the bean crop shouldn't be much better than last year, but the availability of water means it could hit USDA's Aug. 1 estimate of 40 bu. per acre.

Oh.. and by the way... the Minnesota bean crop seems to "pivot" around 40 bu. per acre. The states yield usually doesn't get much above 40 bu. per acre, and it normally doesn't get much lower than 40 bu. per acre. USDA put the crop at 40 bu. per acre and the crop we saw today suggests a "sharply average" Minnesota bean crop of 40 bu. per acre.

That's your final comment from the western leg of the 2009 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Thanks for your interest in what the Tour found this year and a big thank you to Tour sponsor Pioneer. The agronomic information the Pioneer scouts brought to evening meetings was extremely valuable -- and the food wasn't too bad, either. Until next year...