From the Rows - Chip Flory - Western Tour Day 2
Hello from the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. We made our way on 10 routes from Grand Island, Neb., to Nebraska City, Neb., and everybody made it safely from point A to point B - that's the best news I can share with you today.
I try not to "lose track" of the comments I make on the Nebraska crops from year to year. That's because Nebrasaka seems to be always changing. Differerent weather from year-to year is just part of the equation... management is constantantly changing and evolving, making it extremely difficult to judge the Nebraska corn and soybean crops.
What I've learned on 22 years of touring the Midwest is this: Trust the numbers. And with that, let's get to the results for Nebraska.
In Nebraska, we found an average corn yield of 165.16 bu. per acre. Don't freak out!! On average since 2001, we've measured the Nebraska corn crop about 15 bu. too light. That's because the samples we pull are about 35% to 40% irrigated samples and the state is actually about 60% irrigated. The cool thing is we know that. Adding the 15 bu. historial diviation to this year's results puts the Nebraska crop at about 180 bu. per acre, 1 bu. better than last year's 179 bu. per acre.
Keep in mind, this year's Tour results generated an average yield estimate at 165.16 bu. per acre, up 0.8% from year-ago. USDA on Aug. 1 put the Nebraska corn crop at 187 bu. per acre, up 4.5% from year-ago. So... how'd we get to 165 bu. (rounded) this year?
The average number of ears per 60-foot of row averaged 86.84 ears, basically steady with last year's 86.86 ears in 60-foot of row.
The average length of grain per ear this year was 7.16 inches, up from last year's 7.07 inches.
The average number of kernel rows around the ear was 16.01, down from last year's 16.16 kernel rows.
Row spacing this year was 30.12 inches, down from last year's 30.23 inches (which is a positive to the average yield).
We pulled 283 samples in two (rainy) days in Nebraska, 10 more than we pulled on the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.
Now it comes down to kernel weight. Will it take 90K kernels to make a bushel... or will it take something different? This year's crop scouts seem to agree we should be working with a "normal" kernel weight.
On soybeans, we found a heck-of-a-good pod count in Nebraska. At 1,220 in a 3'X3' square, that beats last years 1,103 by 10.6%... and compares to the 3-year average of about 1,045 pods in a 3'X3' square. (For comments on soybean plant heath, be sure to check out Terry Johnston's comments from the western leg of the Tour. But I'll tell you this... plant health is better than year-ago, weed pressure is lighter than year-ago and the crop generally got a drink of water today to help it finish.)
The average number of pods in 3' of row this year was 795, up from last year's 750. The average row space this year was 24.41 inches, down from last year's 24.57 inches, adding to the average number of pods in the 3'X3' square.
On day-3 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, we'll make our way from Nebraska City to Spencer, Iowa. We're going to see everything that Iowa has to offer... tough condition in the southwest part of the state leading up to generally good conditions in the northwest crop district.
If it "feels" like I'm "light" on perspective on the Tour numbers this year, it's because I really feel like this is a year to "trust the numbers," especially on the western leg of the tour. Maturity of the corn crop is far enough along that I feel that we're measuring actual yield, not yield potential.
We'll talk again after Day-3 of the Tour from Spencer, Iowa.