At Tour’s End: Minnesota Crops Need More Time, Rains

August 20, 2008 07:00 PM
Tanner Ehmke, AgWeb

(Austin, Minn.) – While Minnesota's corn and soybean crops are showing great potential this year, an extended growing season with a return of regular rainfall is badly needed for the crops to perform, say crop scouts on the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

Minnesota's corn crop yield potential was estimated at 178.4 bushels/acre, up from last year's tour estimate of 169.1 bushels/acre, based on a sampling of 133 fields throughout southern Minnesota. Pro Farmer analysts noted that lower-yielding fields in northern growing areas were not included in the sampling. Accoutning for the skew, the state's yield estimate is lowered to 166.2 bushels/acre, which is still one bushel above USDA's current estimate.

Soybean pod counts in a 3'x3' square were figured at 1,006.6 pods, down from last year's measurement of 1,030.1 pods, based on data from 134 surveyed fields. The 2.3% decrease in pod counts correlates with USDA's forecast for a 2.4% decline in Minnesota soybean yield to 41 bushels/acre.

Tour scouts said that while the overall health of the Minnesota corn and soybean crops is impressive, dry soils and immaturity due to late planting are of concern.

Chip Flory, tour leader and editor of Pro Farmer, says an extended growing season and adequate rainfall lasting into maturity are needed for the crops to reach their full potential, especially for soybeans.

"Last year we had a lot of water on this crop (soybeans),” Flory says. "This year we need a rain now.”

Tour participants noted dryness across nearly all of the examined area of Minnesota and that with the soybean crop still filling pods, prolonged dryness ultimately with cost the crop in yield. Corn yield potential will also be sacrificed with so much of the crop in the late-milking to dough stage.

Monday, USDA reported that 20 percent of the Minnesota corn crop as of Sunday was in the dough stage, lagging far behind the five-year average of 48%. Eighty-nine percent of the soybean crop, meanwhile, was setting pods, down from the five-year average of 93 percent.

Gary Wietgrefe, tour participant and certified crop advisor with Syngenta Seeds in Sioux Falls, S.D., says that while things are running behind schedule this year, the chances for improvement are strong considering the health of this year's crops and the surprisingly low disease and insect pressure.

"A lot of things are going for it that you normally don't have,” Wietgrefe says.

If timely rains arrive, he says, the crop is healthy enough to respond with improved yield potential.

"We don't need saturation. Just enough rain to keep it going,” Wietgrefe says.

Friday morning at 8:30 CT, Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory and Pro Farmer News Editor Roger Bernard will present Pro Farmer's Offical Production Estimates Webinar. Results will be posted on AgWeb following the webinar. 


You can e-mail Tanner Ehmke at


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