From the Rows -- Brian Grete -- Eastern Leg Day 2
Day 3 of the eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour had scouts sampling on routes from Bloomington, Indiana, to Iowa City, Iowa. My route took me through McLean, Tazewell, Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties in crop districts 4 and 3 in Illinois. After seeing extremely variable crops on the first two days of Tour, it was refreshing to see better crops in west-central Illinois. There were still some issues with nitrogen deficiency in west-central Illinois, but not to the degree of what we saw in Ohio and Indiana. On my route, our average corn yield in west-central Illinois was 179.4 bu. per acre. Our soybean pod count in a 3'x3' square was 1,172.6. Our corn yield range on my route in Illinois today was 109.7 bu. per acre to 223.2 bu. per acre. Our soybean pod counts ranged from 761.7 to 2,090.4.
Once my route crossed into eastern Iowa, crop conditions improved. While some issues due to excessive moisture this spring were still evident, they weren't as pronounced as they were in the eastern Corn Belt. In six stops in Scott, Cedar and Johnson counties, our average yield was 202.2 bu. per acre. Our average soybean pod count was 1,369.15. I know some of the eastern Iowa producers feel their crops could be better, but there are a lot of producers in the eastern Corn Belt that would trade them crops in a second.
When all of the samples were tabulated, we calculated an Illinois corn yield of 171.64 bu. per acre, down 22.7% from last year's Tour findings but 5.3% above year-ago. In its August estimate, USDA forecast an average yield of 168.8 bu. per acre.
Soybean pod counts averaged 1,190.47, which was below year-ago but 4.7% above the three-year average.
General observations: The fact corn yields and soybean pod counts are getting stronger as we move westward is not surprising. That trend should continue on the final leg of Tour Thursday. There are more foliar diseases in the corn crop in western areas of the Corn Belt than what I saw earlier in the week in farther eastern locations. However, much of this disease pressure is on the lower canopy, which should limit yield impacts. A potential problem down the road could be standability with the corn crop in areas of west-central Illinois as there was minor stock deterioration. That leaves the crop vulnerable to heavy late-season winds and rain, which could cause the crop to lodge. The rains that fell on the eastern Corn Belt this week will likely benefit the soybean crop more than corn, though they could also give the corn crop a boost as it builds ear weight.
Scouts will sample fields in the eastern half of Iowa and southeastern Minnesota on the final day of this year's Crop Tour. We'll meet up with scouts from the western leg on Thursday evening in Rochester, Minnesota, for the finale.
For More Information
See full coverage of the 2015 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, hosted by Pro Farmer.
Take your own field measurements and participate in Pro Farmer's Virtual Crop Tour.
Follow Crop Tour on Twitter by searching #pftour15.