Eastern Tour Day Three: Mark Bernard''s Illinois Wrap Up

August 19, 2008 07:00 PM

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we were off on Day 3 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. As in other years, this Crop Tour has an international flavor. With former fellow sheep man and farmer Bill Bayliss from West Mansfield, OH, at the helm, farmer and culinary expert Rodney Frick from Seaton, IL, riding shotgun, Ian Berry from Dow Jones in Chicago and yours truly as assistant statisticians, we were followed by part of the Morgan Stanley entourage. They included a couple chaps from London England, Benno Meier, Executive Director of Morgan Stanley and David Cherrett from Tudor Capital. Although Jordan Levi's Heritage Management Co. office is in Oklahoma, it still seems like a foreign country.

The route took us through the counties of McLean, Tazewell, Woodford, Warren and Rock Island in IL. Saw crop about as I had anticipated before heading out on the tour: A good but not great corn crop and soybeans about average in appearance. Definitely off last year's pace and the numbers reflected that. Corn yield estimates on our IL route today averaged 179 bu./acre with a high of 219 in Warren Co. (one of only two samples on our route over 200 today) and a low of 118 in Rock Island Co. Fields are dry however so tip back on the ears was common and without rain, will continue to lower yield potential.

Soybean pod counts in a 3' x 3' square averaged 1198 with a high of 1494 in Tazewell Co. and a low of 694 in Rock Island Co. While pod counts don't translate well into yield they do give one a rough idea of the potential and that potential was down in the areas sampled vs. the prior year.

Crop health today in both crops was generally excellent. It was apparent that many corn fields as we traveled had been sprayed with a fungicide and insect pressure was low, with a few token corn borers and soybean aphids found.

We pulled only 3 samples on the route in IA today as crossing at Muscatine left us running out of real estate. The 3 corn samples averaged 149 bu./acre, with highs of 165 in Cedar and Muscatine Co's. and a low of 117 in Scott Co. No surprise here although it will be surprising if we don't see samples come back across IA with lower numbers tomorrow.

On the soybean side, we saw an average 3' x 3' pod count of 1438.7, with a rather high pod count of 2196 in Muscatine Co. with a low of 830 in Cedar Co.

Dry is the key word to describe soil conditions, with rainfall needed within the next week to 10 days to keep this crop from being thrown under the bus. On to the finish line tomorrow at Austin, MN, where we will tabulate the final yield estimates for IA and MN. Time for some shuteye in the meantime…

Click here for complete 2008 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Coverage.

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