Day 1 observations from Terry Johnston on the Western Tour

August 18, 2008 07:00 PM

From the Rows

-- Terry Johnston, Western Tour consultant

It was a beautiful day as we started out from Sioux Falls, S.D., this morning and headed to Grand Island, Nebrasksa, on the first day of the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Last year we left in a cold downpour, so this made our sampling much easier today. As we moved through SE S. Dakota, we were pleasantly surprised by how the crops looked compared to past years. As we worked our way into cornfields, the yield results matched the "look" of the crop.

The SD corn crop is about as good as I've seen in the past 12 years I've been coming out here. There were very few issues for the crop related to disease and insect pressure. Where there is evidence of pest pressure, it has already been taken care of by a shot of insecticide. The plants are green, are healthy, and are standing very well. And plant and ear populations are up from year-ago. There is variability in maturity, which is understandable because of the wet planting season. The main concern is maturity. This crop needs a nice long finish to reach its potential. Moisture is sufficient, and if that continues, that should help lead to a strong finish.

S. Dakota soybeans were similar -- disease and insect pressure was low on our route. There were some isolated issues, but noting widespread... or these issues have already been dealt with. Plant health was good, but pod counts were somewhat disappointing. Again, maturity is the main concern. I saw more blooms on soybean plants than I've ever seen in the Tour. If the length of the growing season is cut short, bean yields will suffer.

The northeast Nebraska corn crop was also green and healthy. There was some evidence of a few more insects and leaf diseases, but it looked as though producers were on top of these issues earlier than in the past and they headed off major problems. Plant populations appeared to be a limiting factor on yield potential, especially in the irrigated corn. Like the S. Dakota crop, crop maturity is a big concern... the crop will need an extended growing season and some additional moisture to finish strong.

North-east Nebraska beans were a little different story... there are some insects out there. Most concerning are the aphids, which likely had been sprayed at least once, but that shot of insecticide might have been a little too early. If you sprayed once, check those fields again -- you might have to hit it again. There was also evidence of bean leaf beetles, but it looked like the first shot of insecticide did the job on those leaf- and pod-eaters.

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