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.
The second piece of good news I can share is the bean crop looks about the same as last year's... and last year was a great bean crop. As I'm writing this, lightening is flashing and rain is falling and it looks like for the first time on the 2016 western leg of the Tour, we'll have mud on our boots tomorrow morning. It'll be a great help to the soybean crop... we'll check the maturity of the corn crop in western Iowa tomorrow before deciding how much help it will bring the corn crop. But, in southeastern Nebraska, there are plenty of corn fields -- and 100% of the soybean fields -- that this "drink of water" will help.
On to the numbers. As a reminder, what you'll get from me is the raw data... that's it. I'm not putting any "spin" on the data. But I will remind you of this, on average since 2001, the crop tour has measured the Nebraska corn crop about 15 bushels too light. That's because, historically, we pull about 40% irrigated samples and 60% dryland, which is just the opposite of the state. Nebraska is about 60% irrigated. This year, however, our irrigated samples jumped up to 44% of the 258 samples we pulled from the state. That's enough to potentially sway the yield results.
As we made our way from Grand Island to Nebraska City, it "felt" like we were missing an ear or two from the ear counts. But, after checking with last year's results and the three-year average, the ear counts actually lined up with what we'd seen in previous years. And at the end of the day, we averaged 87.65 ears in two 30-foot plots. That .93% increase in ear pops from year ago, however, was offset by a 1.4% increase in the average row spacing that we measured.
That left two variables... grain length and kernel rows. The number of kernels rows is historically close to 16... and this year was no different at 16.26. That was a 1.6% increase from last year. That was more than offset by grain length. This year's 6.8 inches was down 5% from last year.
The end result was a Nebraska average yield of 158.6 bu. per acre, down 4% from last year's Tour findings. Again, as a reminder, we historically measure Nebraska about 15 bu. too light.
The soybean crop was repeat of last year. Pod counts in a 3-by-3 foot row were 1223.07, up just 0.2% from last year. The rain that is falling right now puts last year's yield of 58 bu. per acre in play, and means a 1 bu. per acre increase from year-ago (as predicted by USDA as of Aug. 1) is a real possibility. One other interesting "move" in this year's data is a 4.4% increase in the average row width to 25.49 inches. The wider row-width trend seems to be consistent with what we are seeing on the edges of the Corn Belt this year.
It's looking like a wet start to our third day on the 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, but it will be worth it. The area farmers that came to view Nebraska results this year added so much to the meeting... thank you for being there and thank you for participating in the meeting. It was a lot of fun!! We'll let the discovery process continue on Wednesday as we make our way to Spencer, Iowa!
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.