People tend to be happy when something meets their expectations. But what about when those expectations are low?
That was the case for Pro Farmer Crop Tour scouts when they descended upon western Ohio Aug. 17. No one, including retired Minnesota farmer and veteran Crop Tour scout Dick Overby, expected to see bin-busting yields. And for the most part, those predictions came true.
“We’ve heard so many bad things already about Ohio and Indiana that it’s hard to get overly passionate about what we saw today,” Overby says.
That’s not to say there weren’t some pleasant surprises, he adds, noting a 193 bu. per acre sample he pulled in western Ohio. But statewide, too many samples of severely stressed corn expected to yield less than 100 bu. per acre dragged down those highlights.
Pro Farmer has estimated Ohio’s 2015 corn yields at 148.37 bu. per acre. That’s a steep decline of 18.5% from the 2014 estimate of 182.11 bu. per acre. This number is also well below the USDA 2015 estimate of 168.0 bu. per acre. Earlier in August, USDA predicted a national corn average of 168.8 bu. per acre.
Time and time again, Crop Tour scouts brought up their struggles with accurately measuring Ohio’s highly variable fields.
“It was very variable in Ohio, even in the good areas,” says Indiana farmer Joe Wise. “It was very hard to find a representative sample in a lot of fields.”
That’s why taking numerous samples in each state is paramount to the tour’s success, according to Pro Farmer editor Brian Grete. Scouts pulled 92 samples in Ohio alone and are expected to take more than 1,300 total samples across seven Midwestern states.
“We don’t read into what one individual result says,” he says. “It’s what these 1,300 total fields tell us collectively.”
The 2015 Ohio results showed that ear counts were only slightly down 1.7% from 2014, while grain length saw a more moderate 13.7% decline.
Ohio planted 3.7 million acres of corn in 2014, producing 611 million bushels with an average yield of 176 bu. per acre, according to the USDA.
Pro Farmer states it does not estimate soybean yields due to two important variables – number of seeds per pod and seed weight – being virtually impossible to calculate on a tour of this type. However, the tour does calculate the number of pods in a 3’ x 3’ square to see how much of the “bean-making factory” is in production. This year’s 3’ x 3’ pod count was 1,125, a 16.2% decline from 2014.
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.