Day one of the 2009 Midwest Pro Farmer Crop Tour saw my group heading out of Columbus and taking a slightly northeast bearing towards Marion, heading towards Attica Junction, Tiffin, Fremont, Defiance (good pie at Bud's in Defiance) and crossing the Ohio border at Payne into IN. The crew in my van today was largely veteran, composed of Ian Berry from Dow Jones in Chicago, Gavin Koo of Bain Capital in Boston, and Eduardo Navarro from Aldimones in Guadalajara Mexico.
Counties sampled in Ohio by our route included Crawford, Seneca, Sandusky, Wood, Henry, Defiance and Paulding. Yields bounced around but trended worse as we neared the IN border, ranging from a low of 106 to a high of 221 bu./acre. Soybean pod counts in the 3' x 3' were also all over the board as well, with low counts in the 590 range all the way over 2000.
This is my sixth tour of duty on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour and it's probably the most impressive Ohio crop I've sampled to date. Overall crop health is excellent with disease pressure in both corn and beans very light. We did note some phytophthora on a few plants in one soybean field and a few plants with SDS detected by budding plant pathologist Gavin Koo.
On the corn side, more of the same; a little common rust on a few plants and a touch of eyespot noted on our last stop in IN, not enough to be of any importance. There was also a relative lack of insect pest pressure. Oh sure, we saw a few soybean aphids, the Western corn rootworm beetle adults and even a few spider mites causing some stippling in one of the drier soybean fields. However, these were more of a novelty this time around and nothing to raise anyone's blood pressure enough call out the spray plane.
Something that has definitely changed for the better is the harvestable ears we've picked up in Ohio this time around. The word is out; if you want higher yields you must have higher plant populations to get them, particularly with some genetics. Hybrids genetics have come a long way in the past 6 years and stalk strength is a large part of that. Overall Tour average ear counts in Ohio average about 27,500 per acre this year as compared to somewhere in the 26,000 per acre range for '08. No surprise that the estimated yield for this year's Tour was nearly 11 bu./acre higher than last year and more ears is a large part of it.
The soybean crop seen on my route today was equally as noteworthy. The soybean pod count was up and while it doesn't necessarily translate into higher soybean yields, it certainly doesn't hurt. Ditto for being relatively free of insect and disease pressure. There are however some flies in the proverbial ointment. Moisture to finish this crop will need to start occurring with some regularity or the potential measured today will not be realized. We did get rained on about three times today, driving through some absolute cloudbursts. That was the problem though, they were very localized. And, like much of the rest of the country, there will need to be warm temperatures to go along with that rainfall. One without the other won't cut it, and those are some big "if's."
Tomorrow we push on through IN and into eastern IL.
Click here for complete 2009 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Coverage.