South Dakota Exceeds Expectations

August 17, 2015 11:00 PM
2015 crop tour south dakota

Scouts find big bean counts and surging yields on the first day of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

While the eastern Corn Belt has been anxiously watching their saturated fields, South Dakota has quietly been putting together what could be a stellar crop of corn and soybeans.

Soybeans: Consistent Maturity

“A 1055 pod count in South Dakota?” Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory said Monday at the evening presentation in Grand Island, Neb. “That’s rocking it.”

But 1,055 was the average pod count for a 3’ x 3’ square of South Dakota soybeans, according to the 68 samples pulled by scouts on the first day of the 2015 crop tour. While that’s comparable to 2014, when tour sampling delivered a 1,058 average pod count for that same space, the estimate is significantly higher than the three-year average pod count of 886.5.

And that potential could continue to grow. The “big difference” between 2015 and 2014? Soil moisture. “We were wet all day,” Flory said. “When you get that much water in the third week of August, you cannot overshoot” the positive pod-filling effects and impact on yields.

One of the South Dakota bean crop’s strengths may be the consistency of the crop. “The beans are maturing nicely,” said Tim Gregerson, a Nebraska farmer and veteran scout, who added: “We didn’t see a bloom on a bean crop from South Falls to Grand Island.”

What did scouts see? Pests, particularly aphids, with infestations ranging from the mild to mortifying. Brent Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, took one sample with “80 to 90 aphids per leaf. The beetles were thick on that plant, and they were eating like crazy.”

The potential for that field obviously plummeted dramatically; the scouts reported a pod count of 263 for a 3’ x 3’ square.

Last year, South Dakota planted 5.2 million acres of soybeans in 2014, producing 230 million bushels with an average yield of 45 bu. per acre, according to USDA.

Corn: Rising Yields

As good as South Dakota’s soybean crop might be, the state’s corn crop might be even better: Pro Farmer estimated an average yield of 165.94 bu. per acre based on the 72 samples pulled by scouts Monday.

That’s a big jump from 2014, when the tour gave South Dakota an average yield of 152.71. But everything looks bigger this year for the state’s corn crop, including ear counts, grain length, and kernel rows.

“I think farmers will be very happy with the crop,” said Gregerson, who has been scouting fields for the tour since 2000. Disease was “minimal,” with some anthracnose. Likewise, storm damage was about average, with hail and wind causing green snap in several fields.

Other scouts marveled at the change in South Dakota production that they’ve seen over time. Brad Nelson of Albert Lea, Minn., noted how 130 bu. corn used to be considered a good crop for farmers in the state. “This time, you had a hard time coming up with anything under 150” bu. per acre, Nelson said.

That number is already ahead of 2014. Last year, South Dakota planted 5.8 million acres of corn, producing 787 million bushels of corn with an average yield of 148 bu. per acre, according to the 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.

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