From the Rows - Chip Flory - Western Tour Day 3
Welcome to the third night of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour! We're in Spencer, Iowa, after leaving Nebraska City, Nebraska, early Wednesday morning. Scouts on the western leg of the Tour covered the western half of Iowa -- Brian and the scouts on the eastern leg of the Tour will cover the eastern half on the way to Rochester tomorrow. Because we don't have a full-state report for you from the western leg of the Tour, we'll talk just the western three crop districts in the state: Crop district 7 (southwest); district 4 (west central) and district 1 (northwest crop district).
From Sioux Falls, SD, to Grand Island, NE, to Nebraska City, I used "consistent" to describe the corn and soybean crops more times than I can count. That changed when we jumped the Missouri River into southwest Iowa. We saw variability not only in the yield from field-to-field, but in the maturity of the crop, as well. The variability is the result of an extremely wet (and well documented) planting season. Early planted corn was a step-ahead of the late-planted corn, but planting date alone does not make for a good yield in southwest Iowa. Some of the early planted corn is excellent because the growers did everything that crop needed to build a yield. The plants were generally disease-free and apparantely got an extra shot of nitrogen after heavy rains in June. On the other hand, some of the early planted corn is flat-out out of nitrogen, plants are off-colored and ear size has been stunted.
The latest of the late-planted corn we saw was in the late milk stage. Give it time and it will make corn, but it's going to have to hustle to get to blacklayer without being nipped from frost. (There are some cattle feeders in western Iowa... the latest planted corn may be silage corn.)
When we finished pulling samples in crop district 7, we had an average corn yield of 166.3 bu. per acre, down 8.09% from last year's 180.9 bu. per acre. The average number of ears in 60 foot of row (two 30-foot sample plots) was 96.66, up from last year's 91.13, but that was the only advantage over year-ago. Grain length was 6.68 inches, down from last year's 7.2 inches. The average number of kernel rows around the ear was 15.59, down from last year's 16.21.
Bean pods counted in a 3'X3' square in southwest Iowa was 1,296.5, up 11.2% from year-ago. Pod development, however, is behind what we'd see in a normal development year and the bean crop has some work to do to realize the full potential of that hefty pod count. But, most of the bean crop in southwest Iowa has plenty of moisture available and the yield potential of the crop there should not be underestimated. There are some weed problems in the southwest corner, but most of the guys were successfull in keeping fields clean.
When we crossed I-80 and headed north into crop district 4, it was like a switch was flipped and the consistency came back to the corn crop. That's not to say the west-central corn crop is without issues... there are some problems in the district that will cap yield potential. The average corn yield in the district was 184.9 bu. per acre, up 2.68% from last year's 180.06 bu. per acre. The aveage number of ears in 60-foot of row was 100.16, up from last year's 96.51. Grain length averaged 6.17 inches, down from last year's 6.65 inches. The average number of kernel rows around the ear was 16.1, basically steady with last year's 16.09.
Soybeans in west-central Iowa saw an average pod count in a 3'X3' square of 1,230.2, up 0.4% from last year's 1224.96 pods. Limiting issues are similar to those in the southwest district, and the yield-positive factor is the same, too: Moisture.
The roughest looking corn I saw in the northwestern crop district was right around Spencer, Iowa. That was a reminder that crop district 1 isn't "all-good" corn. There were some scattered drowned-out areas in fields and some heavy rains since Sunday night have refilled those ponds. Maturity of the corn crop in the west-central and northwest crop districts is far enough along that the crop should have no problem getting to blacklayer ahead of the normal first-frost date.
One sample really stood out from crop district 1 in Osceola, County. This sample had 78 ears in 60-foot of row; had an average ear length of 7.3 inches; and had an average number of kernel rows around the ear of 16. On the surface, that appears fairly ordinary... until you throw in the 15-inch row spacing. That's an ear population of about 45K per acre and it gave the Crop Tour the first yield sample ever to start with a "3." (It was just slightly above that level.)
The average corn yield in district 1 was 188.19 bu. per acre, up 6.03% from last year's 177.48 bu. per acre. The average number of ears in 60-foot of row was 104.75, up from last year's 103.05. The average grain length was 6.68 inches, up from last year's 6.48 inches. The average number of kernel rows around the ear was 16.1, up slightly from last year's 15.99.
The bean crop in northwest Iowa saw an average pod count of 1,213.52, up 11.2% from last year's 1,091.34 pods in a 3'X3' square.
We had a great group in Spencer for the meeting tonight. I hope you all enjoyed the conversation we had with the crop scouts. Tomorrow we're heading to Rochester, Minnesota to meet up with the scouts from the eastern leg of the Tour. Looks like it's going to be a chilly start in the morning... I may need to stop and pick up a coat for the last day of the 2015 Tour.