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Western Tour Day Two from Brian Grete

00:00AM Aug 19, 2008

From the Rows

Day 2 observations: I had the pleasure of spending the day with two veteran scouts and a reporter from Chicago. Between the four of us, we took 20 corn samples and 20 soybean samples. We started the day by heading west out of Grand Island to Kearney. From there, we headed south and took Highway 34/6 across the state. The first three hours of sampling was virtually all irrigated corn and soybeans. As we moved into the south-central part of the state, the number of irrigated fields declined. By the time we got to southeastern Nebraska, virtually all our samples were dryland and soil moisture conditions were noticeably drier.

Irrigated corn samples were all over the board -- some strong; some disappointing. Irrigated soybean samples were very solid. Dryland corn samples were less than irrigated on our route, but not as low as would be expected in a poor year. Plant health was strong throughout our samples today, although there were some problems with stands, which is likely due to poor conditions during planting and emergence. Overall, maturity of the today's corn samples was much more advanced than those samples we pulled in southeastern South Dakota and eastern and central Nebraska Monday. Soybean plant health was also strong -- very few insect or disease problems. In two fields we sampled, soybeans were blooming and really need to hustle to reach maturity.

Day 2 general musings from the Tour:

* There is a reason four wheel drive vehicles are recommended on Tour -- they are needed if you ease off the road into an unmarked culvert and only have three wheels on the ground.

* It's a good day when daytime highs reach 83 in southern Nebraska. Through the first two days of the this year's Tour, weather conditions couldn't have been much better. One veteran scout stated, "I don't want to jinx us, but the weather has been as good as I can remember." Gee thanks, that probably guarantees there will be less desirable conditions the last two days of the Tour, although forecasts still look promising.

* Even with irrigation, a good crop is not guaranteed. Planting and emergence conditions -- along with crop management practices -- are still required. That was very clear in our samples today as there was wide variance in irrigated samples, especially for corn.

* We pulled one soybean sample today that had an average of 135.6 pods on three plants. The "whopper" in the group had 185 pods. That prompted one veteran scout to proclaim, "It's a good thing you counted that one, I can't count that high."

For Day 3, western Tour scouts will be sampling in crop districts 1, 4 and 7 in Iowa -- the western-most crop districts -- before meeting in Spencer, Iowa.