Slight Corn Yield Drop in Illinois

August 18, 2010 03:05 PM

 Peter Meyer, the agricultural product specialist with JP Morgan represents and trades for several big consumers of corn in the United States. It’s in his customers’ interest to see a good corn crop.

"I saw nothing today that gives me a reason to be bearish," he says.

Meyer, who is a 3-year veteran of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, took a route today that started south of Decatur, Ill., and took him straight west before angling northwest to cross into Iowa at Fort Madison.

The official tour numbers are showing a slight corn yield drop from 2009 yields. Tour corn yields in Illinois are at 166.53 bu./acre, compared to 167.17 last year. Bean pod counts in a 3'x3' area are at 1308.31 pods versus 1102.80 a year ago. 

In Illinois Meyer’s group sampled corn fields that had a wide range of yields. Samples went from 95 bu./acre to over 200 bu./acre, he says. In Iowa, his route that went straight north from Fort Madison had consistent yields around 130-140 bu./acre.

It appears the yields did improve, however, for the more northern routes in Illinois and the more western routes in Iowa. Roger Bernard, the east tour director, was on the route just north of Meyer’s in Illinois and went one route further west in Iowa. He saw results that were a little better than what Meyer saw.

"I keep hearing variability from the scouts on individual routes," says Bernard. "I think there appears to have been more SDS north of I-80 in Illinois. I’d also say that Illinois corn, at least in the fields I was in and talking to scouts, it’s still a crop that’s pretty far advanced. We continued to find fields that were in late dough and net stage that are marching towards maturity.

"It seems like, at least on my route, corn maturity took a step backward when we crossed the river into Iowa. We were in the milk to dough stage. We did run into one field that had some severe lodging. We would have taken more samples near Muscatine, but we didn’t have our hip waders." 

Further north, Pat Solon, a farmer from Streator, Ill., was much more optimistic. His group started northwest out of Bloomington, Ill. and entered Iowa in Scott County. They covered Scott and Cedar in Iowa.

"The most remarkable thing was in Knox Co. Ill., 195.3 and 195.1. It was almost exactly the same corn, the same hybrid, it was almost identical. Our worst corn in Illinois was in Fulton, Co. was 116. The biggest problem there was planter skips. There were a couple of areas in the sample area that had a couple of 18-20" skips between plants and the ears were only 4.5" long and 12 kernel rows round."

Mark Bernard, the east tour agronomist, says soil conditions at planting, even with today’s advanced equipment, can have a major impact on emergence and stand. Solon’s impression that there were problems at planting time seem logical to Bernard.

Soil conditions in the lower-yielding field were not good, Solon says. "It looked like it had a light rain in the last couple of days. The top soil stuck to my shoes, but there were still a half in wide and probably six inches deep. I dug down about six inches with my pocket knife and it was pretty dry."

Soybeans seemed to fair better in the areas where scouts were seeing poor corn yields. Evan Stanley, a commodity trader with Indiana Grain Co., says he noticed moisture at the base of the corn ears in Iowa, but soybeans were somewhat surprising to him.

"I was expecting to see SDS because we’ve heard a lot about that. But I only noticed one field that had it. That was in Johnson County. We saw some pretty bad standing water in Muscatine County in corn and soybean fields about 10 miles from the river."  

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