How big could Minnesota’s corn crop get? Well, for one farmer in southwestern Minnesota, the yield could be tremendous.
On Thursday, the last day of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop tour, scouts from the western leg pulled a sample with a yield check of 325 bu.
While that particular number may be an outlier, it was also just the highest figure in a collection of strong Minnesota results. Based on 205 samples taken from five crop districts, Pro Farmer’s tour data suggests an average statewide yield of 190.87.
That’s a significant uptick from 2014, when heavy rains damaged fields enough to hurt yields. Minnesota’s estimated yield last year was 170.76, which barely surpassed the three year average.
This year could bring a whole new number to beat in Minnesota.
“The corn was very even,” said Tim Gregerson, a master scout who farms in Nebraska. “Even the maturity is even. It’s all denting or up to full dent. Every year, we see corn that is late blister or milk. There are also no holes, no drowned-out areas.”
That greater maturity was expected by Kurt Line before scouting even began early Thursday morning. “From everything we’ve heard, [the Minnesota crops] were planted in excellent condition,” he said. “They were also planted early, so we should see a more mature crop than we have in past years.”
Minnesota planted 8.2 million acres of corn in 2014, producing 1.2 billion bushels of corn with an average yield of 156 bu. per acre, according to USDA.
Line, who was scouting with his father Ellwood Line, averaged 194.4 bu. across 11 samples. The high on his route? 230 in Cottonwood County, thanks to a big ear count of 119.
Ear counts did rise in 2015 in Minnesota, with a new average of 104.52. That’s 4 percentage points higher than last year, when scouts reported an average of 100.07 ears.
It’s also the highest average ear count average on the 2015 tour.
Minnesota’s corn crop didn’t meet everyone’s expectations. “I thought we’d maybe see some 240 bu. or 250 bu.,” said Jim Yoder, a farmer from southeast Iowa.
He was delighted by the state of the Minnesota corn and soybean fields, however. “The plant health looks really good,” he said. “It’s better than Nebraska and even southern Iowa.”
He has similar praise for the soybean fields. “The thing I noticed about the beans up here is that there was not a weed in the field. … It’s exceptionally clean here.”
Gregerson noticed the same thing. “The beans are relatively clean,” he said. “Farmers got out and sprayed for aphids. This is the least aphid pressure of any year.”
That translated into limited benefits for Minnesota soybeans, according to tour data. Scouts reported an average pod count of 1,119 for a 3’ x 3’ plot, which is slightly above the 2014 number.
Minnesota planted 7.4 million acres of soybeans in 2014, producing 305 million bushels with an average yield of 42 bu. per acre, according to USDA.
For more information:
See full coverage of the 2015 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, hosted by Pro Farmer.
Take your own field measurements and participate in Pro Farmer's Virtual Crop Tour.
Follow the Tour on Twitter with the hashtag #pftour15.