Call it irony, a confirmation or just coincidence, but Chip Flory couldn't help but draw similarities between the weather and the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour results. His car thermometer registered 58° and an overcast day made for gray skies, the color he used to describe this year's final tally.
"There's no black-and-white in the numbers,” says Flory, Pro Farmer editor. "If we get an early frost, we're probably looking at a yield somewhere around 155 bu. If it holds off until the middle of October, we could easily be in the 162- to 163-bu. range.”
Officially, Pro Farmer pegged its annual nationwide production estimates at 12.807 billion bushels, 160.1 bu./acre, assuming normal frost dates and temperatures through September. But crop maturity, primarily in parts of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, puts those numbers into question, Flory says.
"If the growing season ends Sept. 20–25, it could be devastating. The weather conditions between now and the end of September will tell us what that Illinois crop will do,” he says. "We measured so much potential rather than yield. Late-planted corn typically does not build the test weight that timely-planted corn does.
If this weather pattern continues, there is no way we'll hit these numbers.”
The crop is furthest behind in the key corn-growing states of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. "We need to get the clouds out of here. If conditions are soggy and cloudy, we'll have a difficult time getting these crops to finish and fill seed,” Flory says.
Illinois is the biggest swing state on this year's tour, he says. He has little doubt, however, that the yield will fall below USDA's Aug. 1 estimate of 175 bu./acre.
Soybeans are the same story. Poor planting conditions have created delays in pod development, which will surely cut back on yield potential.
Click here for the results table
Top Producer, September 2009