PRELIMINARY DAY 1 OBSERVATIONS FROM THE CROP TOUR... The eastern leg of the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour began in Columbus, Ohio, and scouts will end their day at Fishers, Indiana. The western leg of the Tour began in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and travels to Grand Island, Nebraska. Tonight, final results Ohio and South Dakota will be released on www.profarmer.com. Following are preliminary route reports from Tour leaders.
Western Tour Leader and Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory has sampled in the South Dakota counties of Lincoln, Turner and Hutchinson (District 9). In his five stops this morning, he reported corn yields of 128.8 bu., 0 bu., 33.6 bu., 7 bu. and 122.0 bu. per acre. Ear counts in 60-feet of row were 90, 0, 28, 18 and 76, respectively. "It's every bit as bad as advertised in the southeast corner of South Dakota," says Chip. "It will be interesting to see what was found north of Sioux Falls before they turned south to go to Grand Island. But the reason we concentrate the Tour in the southeast corner is if you are going to have a respectable yield, it needs to be at least decent in southeast South Dakota."
Since crossing the border to Nebraska, Chip has pulled samples from two dryland fields and one irrigated one in Knox and Pierce counties (District 3). The irrigated field came in at 168 bu. per acre while the dryland yields were at 16 bu. and 111 bu. per acre. "In the 111 bu. sample, instead of taking 90,000 kernels to make a bushel, it could take 100,000 kernels because they are shallow. It looked to me like the field pollinated early so it established some yield before the stress really hit it. And once that stress hit, it just couldn't do any more. Even the irrigated corn is down from what we'd like to see, though," adds Chip.
Chip reports pod counts in a 3'X3' square at 370, 612, 475, 800 and 512. "Last year, the state average was just over 1,100 pods, so this appears to be about half of last year," says Chip. "But keep in mind that half of a pod count does not mean half of a yield. Different variables come into play. But we don't have much of the bean production factory up and running in South Dakota. It's a little discouraging. And it needs a drink. If they could get a rain right now, then the beans out there could fill the pods. But without a rain there's not enough juice in the soil to fill the pods like there should be for a normal bean size. The pod counts aren't as good as what I hoped to find. For the bean pod counts to be down as hard as they are is showing how much stress there was on this crop. Beans like stress at the right time and in the right amount. But this year, there was too much stress at the wrong time."
Western Tour Consultant Jason Franck has pulled samples in the South Dakota counties of Minnenhaha, McCook, Davison (District 6), Aurora (District 5) and Douglas (District 9). He has seen a range from 0.2 bu. to 124 bu. per acre for an average this morning of around 57 bu. per acre. "Corn was pretty poor as expected, with sporadic pollination and even an irrigated field that didn't get irrigated properly," says Jason.
Jason reports pod counts in a 3'X3' square ranged 209 to 1,141 for an average around 450. "What is the biggest shock to me is how poor the soybean pod counts are coming in and how flat the pods are. We're obviously seeing drought stress and a little bit of premature dying in the fields and poor weed control is a common theme this morning."
Jason also notes that pod abortion is apparent, as he noticed there is a larger-than-normal gap from the base of the plant to the first pods. "At this point, it needs cool weather and some rain, which could help some yield. But with soybeans in the R5 to R6 stage, we're running out of time to set more pods."
Eastern Tour Leader and Pro Farmer Senior Market Analyst Brian Grete has sampled in the Ohio counties of Champaign, Shelby, Auglaize and Mercer (District 4). His corn yield route average from this morning is 104.42 bu. per acre, with a range of 39.6 bu. to 174.16 bu. per acre. "We've seen definite moisture and heat stress and pollination issues this morning. The crop is very short and a lot of times it's only shoulder- or head-high," says Brian. "We've seen crop very advanced -- mostly in heavy dent to heavy blister. A lot of zippered ears because of pollination issues. The plant health, however, has been decent. The leaves are still relatively green, but the crop has advanced maturity and has been pushed by the weather."
Crossing the border to Indiana, in the counties of Jay, Blackford (District 6) and Grant (District 5), Brian reports a range of yield from 41.2 bu. to 120.8 bu. per acre. "The conditions have gotten worse as we move into Indiana," says Brian. "Corn is short and plant health is not as good and it's hanging on right now."
Brian reports pod counts in a 3'X3' square averaged 794.8 this morning in Ohio and have improved to 1,162.8 in Indiana. "Soybeans have improved as we move into Indiana -- which is opposite of corn. We have a range in Ohio from 375 to 1,429.7 and range in Indiana is 987.8 to 1,425.6," he reports. "We're still down significantly from the three-year average, but relatively speaking they are faring better than corn. Still a stressed crop and a lot of weed pressure, but not a lot of insect pressure."
Eastern Tour Consultant Mark Bernard has sampled in the Ohio counties of Morrow (District 5), Crawford, Huron, Seneca (District 2), Hancock, Putnam and Van Wert (District 1). His day started out strong with a yield sample of 155.9 bu. per acre and proceeded to trail off to 70 bu. per acre in Seneca, for an average of around 100 bu. per acre for the morning. "We're simply seeing a lot of droughted, overheated corn and some diseases, but nothing terrible in terms of disease. Ear shanks are getting fragile on some of the lower-yielding corn, so they are going to have to be careful at harvest time," he says.
Mark reports pod counts in a 3'X3' square ranged 432 in Seneca to 1,816 in Hancock, with an average for the morning around 1,100 pods. "I'm seeing about what I expected -- the soybeans have weathered the storm a little better than corn. But that doesn't mean it's a bumper crop, as it's pretty dry here right now. Another rain would help to fill the pods. As we're getting closer to Indiana, the beans per pod is going down. In Ohio, I estimate there were about 2.5 beans per pod," he reports.
CORN CONDITION UNCHANGED... As expected, USDA revealed the condition of the corn crop has stabilized, with 23% rated "good" to "excellent," which is unchanged from last week.
USDA reports 17% of the crop is mature, which compares to 10% last week and 4% on average. And USDA delivered its first harvest progress rating, showing 4% has been cut, which compares to 1% on average. Leading the way is Texas with 51% harvested, but in the Midwest, USDA reports 3% of the Illinois crop, 18% in Missouri and 1% in Nebraska have been harvested.
SOYBEAN CONDITION IMPROVES AS EXPECTED... Traders expected the condition of the soybean crop to increase slightly from last week, and USDA delivered with a one-percentage-point increase in the amount of the crop rated "good" to "excellent" to 31%.
USDA reports 91% of the crop is setting pods, which compares to 83% last week and on average. Meanwhile, 4% of the crop is dropping leaves, which compares to 1% on average. This suggests the crop is about a week ahead of normal maturity.
COTTON CONDITION DECLINES SLIGHTLY... USDA reports the condition of the cotton crop declined slightly from last week, with 41% rated "good" to "excellent," which is down one percentage point from last week.
USDA reports 17% of the crop is opening bolls, which compares to 12% last week and 14% on average. Leading the way is Arizona with 50% of bolls open (34% on average), followed by Louisiana at 38% (42% on average) and Arkansas at 31% (13% on average).
SPRING WHEAT HARVEST 79% COMPLETE... USDA reports as of Sunday that 79% of the country's spring wheat crop was harvested, compared to 65% last week and 40% on average. Minnesota will join the ranks of South Dakota being complete very soon, as it has 99% harvested. This is followed by North Dakota at 83% (34% on average), Montana at 65% (30% on average), Idaho at 47% (26% on average) and Washington at 49% (46% on average).
MARTELL: DRENCHING RAINS END ARGENTINE DROUGHT... Meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com says drenching rains in August have fully replenished soil moisture ahead of spring planting. She reports Buenos Aires received 3 to 6 inches of rainfall this month, the wettest province in the grain belt. But she also notes that Santa Fe, Cordoba and Entre Rios -- the other three main soybean growing provinces, have seen adequate rain to replenish soil moisture. Click here for additional weather perspective, including maps.
ADMINISTRATION FAST TRACKS TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS... As part of its "We Can't Wait" program, the Obama administration announced this morning that it was fast-tracking four "national and regionally significant" transportation projects. The White House says the effort will cut as much as a year from the time required for the projects to complete the permitting and review processes. The projects are the Kennebec Bridge Replacement Project in Maine, the Devils Lake Rail Improvements project in North Dakota, the Columbia River Crossing project in Oregon and Washington and the Point Defiance Bypass in Washington.