All Eyes on Iowa during Crop Tour

August 13, 2013 10:24 PM

Editor’s Note: This is a preview of one of the seven states the 2013 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour will visit on Aug. 19-22. See the complete State-by-State Preview of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops look to be in fine shape viewed from country roads. But as a recent AgDay report reveals a far different picture of crop health emerges from the air.

iowaPounding rains during planting season reduced some fields in the northeastern part of the state to bare ground. Aerial footage shows large holes, some the size of football fields, in the middle of lush, green fields.

"The soybeans there are so small and with the daylight getting shorter, I just don't know how sustainable this soybean crop is," says Peter Meyer of PIRA Energy Group, who thinks the prevented planting acreage number in Iowa and Minnesota alone will be around two million acres just in corn.

Reports of stunted growth and thin stands are coming in even as the USDA reports that about half of Iowa corn and soybean crops are in good to excellent condition. Dr. Roger Elmore of Iowa State University reports shorter corn plants than normal this year and wide variability across fields.

The problems, he notes, is that soil temperatures this year fell below normal during the five weeks when most of Iowa’s corn was planted.

"Abnormally cool 2013 soil temperatures affected corn internode elongation and thus resulted in shorter corn plants – especially those planted from April through mid- to late- May in cool-wet soils," says Elmore.

Strong spring rains were followed by a long dry spell of six weeks or more in some locations. Thankfully, early August rains in some areas helped boost soybean yield prospects, assuming plants reach fruition before a first front.

Late planted and replanted corn is most at risk from an early frost, according to Paul Kassel of Iowa State University Extension Service, noting that fungicide applications appear to be down due to lower yield expectations.

In the meantime, no one is quite sure of the size of Northeastern Iowa’s "dead zone." Its impact on state yields may not be fully known until combines roll this fall.


For More Information
See full coverage of the 2013 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, hosted by Pro Farmer.

Farmers throughout the United States can participate online by entering their own corn measurements into Pro Farmer’s Virtual Crop Tour tool. Available online during Crop Tour week, each participant will get a personalized yield estimate, expanding Midwest Crop Tour participation to corn growers nationwide.


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