Yes Virginia, there is a garden spot in Illinois. Most of the bean samples that I pulled out of Illinois really didn't measure up to what I thought I might see in Illinois. But one team of scouts on the eastern Tour found some of those big pod counts that seemed elusive so far this Tour. They headed through the East/Southeast crop district in Illinois and pulled some whopper bean samples. They had solid pod counts in the 2,000-plus area with one tipping the scales at 3,008! That included one plant that had 190 pods! And Illinois-based Pioneer agronomist Shawn Jones confirmed that the area these scouts trekked through did get in-time rains. So even though our overall pod count for Illinois is nearly unchanged from year-ago, there's at least one part of the state that certainly pulled its weight in preventing the Illinois bean pod counts from falling.
Almost need valet parking. We had 15 scouts from New York (two of our 2007 scouts from Morgan Stanley brought back a bunch of colleagues this year) following our regular scout cars today. I didn't have one behind me but I did have Pioneer's Jones and an AgDay TV camera man trailing me. It's not easy finding field drives where a Dodge Durango, Ford F-150 crew cab and a Dodge Sebring convertible will all fit and can provide access to a corn and soybean field at once! It's kind of like docking an aircraft carrier. You can do it, but it takes a little work.
And we are three for three -- we've left one hotel each morning and arrived at the next hotel that night with the same number of scouts! That may not seem like that big of a deal, but try that with nearly 70 crop scouts sometime!
On to the numbers -- Illinois: The corn yield measured by the Tour this year was 166.94 bu. per acre, down 5.5% from 2007. How'd that happen? Mostly in grain length as our ear count in 60 ft. of row was up nearly 4 from last year but our grain length was 6.34 inches, down from 6.77 last year. Even if you have more ears, if they're not as long, odds of beating the prior year's corn yield are low. At least that's what the data tells me.
Uneven is a good way to describe this Illinois corn crop because that's what we saw today. It was all over the map.
Is it Jekyll & Hide or Dr. Tar and Professor Feather? The same weather that corn liked this year was not the weather that beans liked this year When we sample, we do try to find a corn and soybean field next to each other. So one would think a big bean pod count should almost equate to a big corn yield. For the most part, however, that didn't seem to be the situation. Those with big corn yield often found mediocre bean pos counts. It just again underscores the need for y'all to get out in those fields and really find out what you've got.
For soybeans, we found 1299.7 pods in a 3ft x 3ft. square, basically unchanged from last year. And the numbers tell the story there, too. We found nearly 50 more pods in that 3ft. of row than we did last year. And, recall I told you about dryness in my prior two posts? Last year it was 3.5 while this year it checked in at 2.69. And it's not improving -- there was no rain in the outlook today.
But again, that word potential has to creep into our dialogue on Illinois.
No we didn't count as many of those little 1/4 inch pods as we did in Indiana and Ohio, but they were still there. With normal conditions, those pods will be a bean come fall. But if not....
And this is another spot where moisture comes into play. If there's not a rain in these fields, those little pods aren't going to be there much longer. And to those who may doubt us eastern Scouts that it is indeed dry, just check our moisture ratings for Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The numbers don't lie.
Bottom line: It's an Illinois that has a bean crop potential (at least according to our pod counts) that matches year ago but that corn crop just has a few too many nicks to match what was in fields in 2007. Give it a drink and things could look different by the time combines roll.
Click here for complete 2008 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Coverage.
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.