From the Rows with Brian Grete
The 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour kicked off this morning in Dublin, Ohio, (a suburb of Columbus) and had scouts sampling corn and soybean fields along 12 designated routes to Fishers, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis).
My route took me northwest out of Dublin. We made three stops in Ohio crop districts 4 -- two in Logan County and one in Auglaize County. Our corn yields on these three stops ranged from 150.48 bu. to 172.75 bu. per acre -- good corn and probably better than I expected based on some of the reports I had heard prior to Tour. Crop maturity was advanced from normal, with all three of the fields dented. From there, we moved into crop district 1 in northwest Ohio. Yields immediately headed south and crop maturity declined. Our yields on two samples in Allen County were 129 bu. and 131.1 bu. per acre. On two samples in Van Wert County, we had yields of 135 and 106.7 bu. per acre. All of these fields were in the milk to dough stage. For the seven stops in Ohio, our average yield was 142.3 bu. per acre.
For soybeans, pod counts in a 3'x3' square were all over the place, ranging from 835.2 in Logan County to 1,881.22 in Auglaize County. In Ohio crop district 1, our pod counts ranged from 857.2 in Allen County to 1,774.8 in Van Wert County. Our second highest pod count on our seven stops in Ohio today came from a field right next to our lowest corn yield calculation, proving once again that one crop is not a determinant for the other. Our average pod count in Ohio was 1,291.59 on our seven stops.
For all 12 routes combined, the Ohio corn yield came in at 148.96 bu. per acre on 111 samples. That was up 0.4% from last year's Tour results. On Aug. 1, USDA estimated the Ohio corn yield at 163 bu. per acre, up 6.5%. While we didn't sample all of Ohio, and the areas we sampled were the "bad" areas this year, it appears USDA may have overestimated the Ohio corn crop on Aug. 1.
For soybeans, the 12 routes combined netted an aveage 3'x3' pod count of 1,055.05 on 109 samples. That's down 6.2% from last year's Tour results in the state. But soil moisture is up from year-ago, suggesting the crop has potential to add some pods and fill the existing pods.
After leaving Ohio, my route took me into Indiana crop district 3 in the northeastern portion of the state. On five samples in Allen, Adams, Well and Huntington counties, our corn yields ranged from 127.94 bu. in Wells County to 176 bu. per acre in Allen County. From there, we moved into crop district 5 in central Indiana, pulling a sample each from Grant and Madison counties. The Grant County sample was our lowest of the day at 97.33 bu. and had significant green snap issues. The Madison County sample yield was 200.28 bu. per acre and our highest of the day. In total, the average yield on the seven stops we made in Indiana was 153.61 bu. per acre. The average yield on the 14 stops we made during Day 1 in western Ohio and eastern Indiana was 147.96 bu. per acre.
Our soybean pod counts in a 3'x3' square in Indiana crop district 3 ranged from 307.20 in Adams County to 1,931.76 in Allen County. In crop district 5, our pod counts were 748 in Grant County and 1,372.80 in Madison County. For all seven stops we made in Indiana, our average pod count was 1,146.92. Our average Day 1 pod count in western Ohio and eastern Indiana was 1,298.8.
Final Day 1 observations
As expected, there are some definite "problem" areas in western Ohio. Tour ear counts came in below year-ago, but up marginally from the three-year (2013-2015) Tour average. Grain length was down from year-ago and the three-year average. Kernel rows were up marginally compared to both year-ago and the three-year average. Row spacing was marginally wider. The driver of our modestly higher yield estimate compared to year-ago was kernel rows, but that was mostly offset by lower ear counts and grain length. Scouts noted tipped back ears in many (most) of the samples. If the Ohio corn crop losses any more grain length late in the season, it would counteract the benefit of modestly higher kernel rows.
We don't measure ear weights on Tour, but many veteran scouts can tell if the ears they are pulling are heavy, normal or light. None of the scouts I talked to after Day 1 felt ear weights were heavy this year. If ear weight is limited by the advanced maturity, it could limit yields. But not all of the corn in western Ohio is advanced in maturity.
The big take away from soybeans on Day 1 was the vast variability in pod counts from all of the routes. It's extremely hard to predict how beans will yield in the third week of August. The extreme variability in pod counts makes that an even tougher task this year.
On Tuesday, scouts will sample fields on routes from Fishers, Indiana, to Bloomington, Illinois. We expect to see better and more consistent crops on Day 2 as we push westward.
For More Information
Be sure to follow AgWeb's coverage of Farm Journal Media's Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Watch reports from the field by following Farm Journal Media journalists along for the ride on Twitter: Alison Rice at @agweb_alison, Ben Potter at @potterben, Chip Flory at @ChipFlory, Brian Grete at @bgrete, and Betsy Jibben at @BetsyJibben. And check AgWeb each evening this week for the day's freshest summary on what they're seeing in the field.
Additional Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour information is available on ProFarmer.com.