Travel with a native. I had the pleasure of having Byron Jones, selected as our "Master Scout" in 2008, on my route today. Byron hails from Saybrook, in McClain County -- just north of Bloomington. Byron is one of those people who we love to have on the Tour. He's a farmer and willingly offers up information and perspective on crops, production practices or many other topics. It was a real treat for me as I got the chance to be with Byron in the 1990s on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour and he's still one of the ones we'll make sure new scouts get exposed to when they first join the Tour. Plus, when you're going through Illinois, what better person to have in the navigator's seat than someone who really knows the area.
And, hat's off to his wife and here cookies. Each year, Byron brings a couple ice cream buckets of cookies that his wife bakes. They are a HIT! There's nothing quite like a really good cookie to give you more energy when you need it on the Tour.
On to the numbers -- Illinois: The average corn yield measured for Illinois is 167.17 bu. per acre, up 0.1% from year-ago. The crop this year, like last year, is going to need to really nice finish to realize the yield potential we measured out there this year. Some fields will need as much, if not more, weeks of frost-free weather this fall to make it to the finish line unscathed.
There just weren't those big yields that one almost expects to see out of the Land of Lincoln. There weren't that many shifts from year-ago in terms of the various categories we measure -- grain length, kernel rows or ear counts -- to really move that yield one way or the other.
For soybeans, we found 1102.80 pods in a 3 ft. by 3 ft. square, down 15.1% from year-ago. There just weren't any of those really big pod counts that one typically can find in Illinois.
And as the groups moved west, we started to find more of those yield robbing things like SDS and white mold. And those types of maladies are supported more with wet conditions. And that is underscored by our soil moisture rating that we assign to soybeans (a scale of 1 to 6 -- six is water standing in the fields; 1 is dry with large cracks in the ground).This year things came in at 4.08 compared to 2.69 in 2008.
So unlike eastern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, we were no longer seeing that uniform, clean bean fields that lacked disease.
Next up? Finish off our sampling in the rest of Iowa tomorrow night where we'll join up with our western Tour entourage. Then it's final Iowa and Minnesota numbers and then putting together the Pro Farmer corn and soybean crop estimates.
Click here for complete 2008 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Coverage.