From the Rows -- Brian Grete -- Eastern Leg Day 1
Day 2 of the eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop had scouts sampling on routes from Fishers, Indiana, to Bloomington, Illinois. My route took me through Boone, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Clinton and Warren counties in crop districts 5 and 4 in Indiana. Extreme variability remained the theme on my route. We had a low corn yield of 14.6 bu. per acre and a high yield of 219.6 bu. per acre on my route today. Our 9 samples in Indiana averaged 136.1 bu. per acre. Conditions along my route got better as we moved into eastern Illinois. On our seven stops through the Illinois counties of Vermilion, Iroquois, Ford and McLean, our yield improved to an average of 174.9 bu. per acre. There wasn't as much variability in the Illinois corn crop along my route as there was in Indiana and Ohio.
Once again, ear populations were not the problem, they were just slightly behind year-ago. Grain length is what held back the western Indiana and eastern Illinois corn crop. Grain length in Indiana averaged 5.7 inches, compared to 6.8 inches last year. That resulted in a corn yield that was 22.7% below year-ago. While that's a shocking reduction, USDA had Indiana corn yields down 16% from year-ago in its August Crop Production Report, so Tour results showed the trend. USDA is likely to reduce its Indiana corn yield in its September Crop Production Report, based on our findings on Crop Tour.
Soybean pod count variability was less than it was for corn. On my route, pods in a 3'x3' square averaged 1,032.2 Indiana, 1,252.8 in Illinois and 1,146.2 for our 16 samples today. All of the Tour samples collected in Indiana showed soybean pod counts in a 3'x3' square at 1,093.08, down 10.4% from what we found last year and 4.7% less than the three-year Tour average.
Soybeans seemed to be faring better than corn along my route today. While there was still variability, it was less in soybeans than in corn. Plus, it rained along my route (and others) today. We've always said if you get your boots wet on Crop Tour, soybeans are going to finish strong. With that said, our soybean pod counts were down 10.4% from year-ago. USDA's August soybean yield estimate was down 12.5%.
General observations: Disease and insect pressure was somewhat limited on my route today and not a major topic among scouts at the nightly meeting. My route did see a pickup in leaf blight in corn as we moved into eastern Illinois, though most was in the lower canopy. The most noticeable difference was in crop maturity. The Illinois corn crop was more mature than what my route saw in Indiana and Ohio. We drove by some fields that were fired up to the ear, likely due to a combination of nitrogen deficiency and stress from early August heat and dryness. And we sampled one field that had ears starting to hang prematurely due to recent stress. The rains that this area got today will help soybeans more than corn. In talking with several attendees at tonight's meeting, planting date made a big difference this year. Those producers that got crops planted in a timely manner generally have the better fields this year. Those that had to wait due to excess moisture are the fields that are showing more variability on corn and drowned-out spots on soybeans. Once again, my route saw a limited number of prevent-plant fields.
Scouts will sample fields on routes from Bloomington, Illinois, to Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday. I anticipate we'll see more variability through portions of western Illinois, though there will be some areas that are noticeably better. As we cross the Mississippi River, things should get better, especially north of I-80. Those routes that come into Iowa City through southeastern Iowa will continue to see variability due to impacts from too much moisture earlier in the growing season.
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