The third day of the 2017 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour featured scouts sampling fields along 12 designated routes from Bloomington, Illinois Iowa City, Iowa.
My route took me northwest out of Bloomington, Illinois, on a route through crop districts 4 & 1 in Illinois. Corn yields were much more consistent than the two previous days, though they weren't where producers in these areas would expect in a "normal" year. While plant health and yield consistency was much greater than the two previous days, there were still signs of rough spring and summer weather conditions. The average yield on the seven samples we pulled form western Illinois was 179.5 bu. per acre, with a range of 141.5 to 208.8 bu. per acre.
Soybean pod counts in the eight samples we pulled from Illinois crop districts 4 & 1 averaged 1009.3, with a range of 576 to 1498. Scouts noted a lack of disease, weed or insect pressure. While there were signs of stress from earlier in the growing season, they weren't as pronounced as previous samples.
As we crossed into Iowa crop district 6, corn yields improved along my route. We had an average of 185.1 bu. on six stops in crop district 6, with a range of 166 to 213. Still, yields weren't as strong as many producers in these counties would have hoped for prior to the growing season.
Soybean pod counts also improved, with the average on my route rising to 1118.8. Disease and insect pressure remained limited, though the really big pod count was missing. While soil moisture was decent after recent rains, the soybean crop in eastern Iowa could use another rain to help it finish.
Final Day 3 observations
The all-sample Illinois corn yield averaged 180.72 bu. per acre. Ear counts, grain length and kernel rows around all came in lower than year-ago, which triggered the 6.6% decline in yields from last year. With all three components of our yield formula down from year-ago, corn yields will be down from last year, it's just a matter of how much.
The Illinois soybean pod count in a 3'x3' square was also down 6.6% from last year. While the late-season rains will help the Illinois soybean crop, our soil moisture rating was still down 1.1% from last year. The Illinois soybean crop is still going to need at least one more rain to make it to the finish line.