Day 3 of the 2011 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour had our group running north of Bloomington, IL, and sampling our way to the east side of the Illinois River, then up US 40 to Sterling, then zigging and zagging from there to Clinton, IA, where we crossed the Mississippi. Today’s crew included Paul Schmitt from Noble Resources, Mike Leskinen of Oppenheimer Funds, Inc. in New York, NY, Tom Polansek of Dow Jones in Chicago, Seth Ginns of Jennison Associates in New York, NY and yours truly as navigator once again. Amazing we still aren’t lost somewhere between the counties of Woodford, Marshall, Putnam, Bureau, Whiteside and Carroll we sampled in today.
Crops in IL were showing us some of the good old fashioned high yielding crop I’ve come to know over the years. Unfortunately for many of the operators, it showed more of the average to below average corn that was evident last year. On the corn side, we saw yields vary from a high of 227 bu./acre in Marshall Co. On the next stop in the same county, we also recorded our low yield for the day at 94 bu./acre. The milk line was moving down the kernel in good shape on the samples during the route today. Many were ½ milk line already. In one farmer’s pet field where he apparently has applied a lot of manure, we saw some kernels already black-layered. The yield on that one was 222 bu./acre. Our route average for the day though was 163 bu./acre, slightly above the 155.99 bu./acre generated for the IL Crop Tour. The soybean pod counts were so-so with counts running about 1170 in the 3 x 3 measurement on our route. The soybean pods we looked at today were slightly farther along than what we saw the previous two days. They may need to be as IL is subject to the cold air we Minnesotans like to send them after we’re through with it.
Seth photographed what was likely the beginning of anthracnose stalk rot in one afternoon corn sample. Dark colored lesions on the stalk are symptomatic. This should not be surprising particularly in areas where corn has been under stress and is cannibalizing itself in order to make it to the finish line. In two corn fields right out of the chute this morning, we were able to find Goss’s wilt. Fortunately these fields were far enough along so the yields impact should be negligible. Symptoms of this bacterial disease of corn included sunken water soaked lesions with irregular shaped margins, “freckling” on those margins and the shiny appearance of the bacterial ooze coming out of those lesions along the still green tissue. It almost looks like flesh eating bacteria for corn.
In the soybean fields, we saw relatively light disease pressure. After looking over some comments from last year’s Crop Tour, one thing of note was the relative lack of soybean disease, especially this time around. Japanese beetles and soybean aphids were present in below-threshold numbers in some fields. In one field of soybeans we found western corn rootworms likely doing their thing as western variants will do. Hail was also noted in one of the fields we sampled in Marshall Co. Soybeans had been cut off in the early V stages and some wicked cankers from stem bruising could make that field interesting to harvest.
Lunch at the Wagon Wheel in Sterling, IL, provided a welcome respite from today’s heat. Starving from a long morning of sampling, the large portion of meatloaf and real mashed potatoes with gravy was met with total approval from Tom and me as we shoveled it in. The afternoon was going to be a long one so refueling with comfort food was essential. I think we even got a smile out of the waitress who appeared to be having a bad day. She was amazed how fast we could pack it away.
Now it’s on through the rest of IA and a chunk of MN to finalize the numbers there. See you in Austin!