Day 3 Western Tour Report from Chip Flory

August 20, 2009 07:36 AM

Western Tour Report, Day 3 -- Another day, another good corn crop.

You know... it's kind of fun driving from one 180-plus corn field to another while admiring the handy work of some solid-planting and a favorable growing season. It was unbelievable driving through Iowa crop districts 7 (southwest), 4 (west-central) and 1 (northwest) in Iowa today. We saw excellent corn in the western part of Iowa... and the increase is the result of two key factors: Ear populations and grain length. We've still got a lot of Iowa to Tour tomorrow, so all I'll talk about tonight is the crop districts we're done with... which also means I've got a few more numbers to go over tonight (from three different districts)... so let's get right to it, working from south to north:

Crop District 7: The average ear count came in at 92.31, up 2.2% and the average grain length (look out!) was 7.53 inches, up 11.5%! The average kernel rows around was down 2.9% from year-ago and the average row spacing actually widened 0.7% to 30.31 inches. The average yield jumped to 183.53, a 9.7% increase from last year.

Crop District 4: The average ear count came in at 99.26, up 2.1% from year-ago and the average ear length was 7.01 inches, up 2.9% from last year. The average number of kernel rows around was 16.22, down 0.39% from year-ago. Row spacing narrowed to 29.86, and the average yield jumped 8% from last year to 189.79.

Crop District 1: The average ear count jumped 4.7% from last year, to 102.95 ears per 60-foot of row (seriously!). The average grain length was 6.86 inches, up 2.8% from last year and the average kernel row around was 16.39, up 0.7% from last year. That put the average yield at 184.97, up 5.5% from last year.

Simply put, it's a really (really) good corn crop in western Iowa. The 3-year average for corn yield in crop district 7 is 159.53 bu. per acre, the 3-year average for crop district 4 is 160.74 bu. per acre and the 3-year average in crop district 1 is 163.25 bu. per acre.

You know what... I don't want to get too excited about this Iowa crop until the rest of the samples come in from the OTHER 6 crop districts... thought process was just interrupted by a newswire reporter out here with the Tour. She asked if it was a valid comparison to figure an average of the three crop district results, and compare it to the average of the samples from last year. So... I ran the numbers. Here's what we came up with. The average of the three western crop districts in Iowa was 181.1 bu. per acre this year. Averaging the results from these three districts from last year, we came up with 171.7 bu. per acre. That means this year's crop in western Iowa was up 8.4% from last year. That number "rung a bell." USDA on Aug. 1 put the Iowa crop at 185 bu. per acre, up 8.2% from last year. That's the first time I've run that comparison (thanks Elizabeth!)... and it seems like a valid comparison.

Okay...soybeans: The average number of pods in a 3'X3' square in crop district 7 was 1282.66, up 10.5% from last year; crop district 4 was put at 1214.07, up 11.6% from last year; and the average pod count in crop district 1 was 1159.52, up 11.1% from last year.

The bean crop is generally healthy, has a lot of pods and it's got water to finish. There's one comment I always try to remember to mention on crop tour... and that's "If scouts boots are muddy on Crop Tour, DO NOT underestimate the potential of the bean crop. Water at this time of the year on a bean crop normally leads to a "good" bean crop.

That's it for tonight... we've had a long, wet day and the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. We'll make our way from Spencer, Iowa, to Austin, Minnesota, to wrap up the Tour tomorrow.


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