From the Rows with Brian Grete
Day 3 of the 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour had scouts sampling fields from Bloomington, Illinois to Iowa City, Iowa, along 12 designated routes.
Well... let's address this up front... Illinois has a great corn crop this year, but it's not equal to or better than the 2014 Illinois corn crop that averaged 200 bu. per acre state wide. And we have the numbers to back that up. Our 2016 Illinois corn yield came in at 193.50 bu. per acre. That was up 12.7% from our Tour number of 171.64 bu. but shy of the 2014 Illinois Tour corn yield of 196.96 bu. per acre. The 2014 Illinois corn crop is still the best individual state corn crop I have ever seen -- I will never forget that crop. The 2016 Illinois corn crop is the second best individual state corn crop I have ever seen.
The thing that stood out in 2014 was the extreme uniformity of the Illinois corn crop. We did not see that uniformity this year. Somewhat surprisingly, we did not pull one 300-bu.-plus corn yield sample from Illinois in 2014. We had one of those samples this year. But there were more yields under 200 bu. this year. If this year's Illinois corn yield is going to get to the 200 bu. per acre USDA put on it in August, the pockets of really high yields are going to have to offset the pockets of "low" yields across the northern two-thirds of Illinois. That's possible, but not probable. Also, southern Illinois corn yields didn't pull down the overall state average in 2014. I don't believe that will be the case this year, based on conversations with producers in southern Illinois. .
The one concern I have with the Illinois corn crop is plant health. I saw many fields today that had poor plant health below the ear -- way more than in 2014. That poorer plant health may end up robbing Illinois farmers of some yield potential.
As for the Tour sample numbers on my route today through Illinois crop districts 4, 3 and 1, we had an average yield of 191.4 bu. per acre from Tazewell, Peoria, Knox, Warren and Mercer counties. That included a range of 147.6 bu. to 232.1 bu. per acre. The 232.1 bu. sample from Warren County included the single biggest ear I can ever remember pulling on Crop Tour. It was 9 inches long, girthy and heavy... a baseball bat.
The Tour pod count in a 3'x3' square was 1,318.09, up 10.7% from last year. USDA's Aug. 1 yield estimate was up only 1.8% from last year. Given the rains that rolled across a wide swath of the state Wednesday and other recent rains, the Illinois soybean crop is set up to finish strong.
The average pod count on the samples my route pulled in western Illinois today averaged 1,285.
As my route moved into eastern Iowa, our corn yields increased. In five stops in Iowa crop district 6, we had an average corn yield of 197.8 bu. per acre. Soybean pod counts also increased to an average of 1,315. Of course, we were only one route of 12 sampling from far eastern Iowa. Plus, we will be doing more sampling in Iowa tomorrow.
On Thursday, scouts will sample fields on routes from Iowa City, Iowa, to Rochester, Minnesota. Key for me will be whether Iowa has a better corn crop than Illinois.
For More Information
Follow #pftour16 Leaders Chip Flory and Brian Grete, as well as Consultants Mark Bernard and Emily Carolan on Twitter. Follow Julianne Johnston for official Tour results.
Additional Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour information is available on ProFarmer.com.