From the Rows; Western Tour Day 3 (Terry Johnston)

August 24, 2011 09:07 PM

From the Rows with Terry Johnston


If you like hard work, long days and short nights along with running in and out of corn and bean fields all day…you might be a crop scout!
I have to say it’s hard to know where to start with today’s sampling… except to say that the scouts on the Western leg of the Midwest Crop this year have had just about everything thrown own at them in one Tour! That, and we still have a day left! Looking forward to seeing the southern Minnesota crop tomorrow!
Covering the western one-third of Iowa today, we moved from the southern part of the state to the north with high expectations of finding a great crop…unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way.

We were amazed at the amount of hail and wind damage we found and the extent of damage that was done. The damage is NOT isolated; it covers several counties in southwest and south-central Iowa. I can’t remember seeing this much serious storm damage over such a large area in all my years on the Crop Tour. We had a hard time even counting ears today because so much of it bent over or flat on the ground.

Without a doubt, yields are going to be reduced in southwest Iowa from last year. By how much? It’s kind of hard to say. It will depend on how many of the ears will be still attached to the stalk and able to make it into the corn head this fall.

As we moved north out of the most severe damage, the corn crop did get better. We saw some leaf diseases and insect pressure in the corn but nothing at threshold levels or wide-spread. We’ve been watching for Goss’s Wilt, but fortunately we have not found any significant amounts in the fields.
Crop conditions and yields improved as we moved north. In the northern counties the corn crop showed signs of moisture stress, some areas did get some rains and it will help corn yields. If the rest can get some rain in the next few days it will help the yield potential on the corn. Overall the western Iowa corn was measured to be just a bit better than last year.

That’s where I disagree with the Tour… but just a bit. The crop in the west central and northwest crop districts has the potential to be better than last year. But, it seems like there are too many “nicks” to yield (wind damage, dry conditions, some disappointing ear counts). Those “nicks” might keep the corn crop from equaling last year’s corn yield. It just doesn’t seem like the corn crop has the potential to equal last year. (Don’t tell Chip, but most of the growers in the room agreed with me.) Growers at the meeting probably didn’t disagree with what scouts measured for yield potential, but they just don’t think they’ll be able to stick that much in the bin because of harvest loss and some other problems associated with downed corn.”

Beans in southwest and south central Iowa were also greatly impacted by the wind and hail damage, especially the hail. Our pod counts in those areas were well below normal. Again it’s hard to measure, but bean yields will likely be more heavily impacted than corn. We’ll know for sure how much when the combines roll this fall.

As we moved north through our routes bean pod counts and yield potential improved although we found fewer pods on average compared to last year. Like the rest of the crop we’ve seen this week the beans are clean and we found very little disease and insect pressure. The major factor in the beans now is moisture… they need some rain! This crop can finish strong if the rainfall comes. Overall the western Iowa pod counts suggest the bean crop won’t be as good as last year, but it still has good potential if conditions for the rest of the growing season are favorable.


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