Western Iowa Looks Good. Real Good!

August 18, 2009 07:00 PM

Look out eastern Iowa. The western part of your state, normally hit by dry August weather and brown corn struggling to make yields you'd typically laugh at, is ready to eat your lunch this year. Samples taken today during day three of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour uncovered some astounding potential. In this part of the Hawkeye state, 2009 corn and soybean yields could put your yields to shame.
Field after field of corn with 200+ bushel yield potential were reported by the crop scouts tonight, and the rumors of an outstanding western Corn Belt were confirmed…if the weather cooperates as this potentially record-setting crop finishes out the growing season. Crop scouts, like western tour consultant Terry Johnston, say the crop was generally good throughout the tour stops today, but it gradually improved as the tour moved northward to tonight's stopover in Spencer, Iowa.
Chip Flory, Pro Farmer editor and leader of the western leg, announced that the numbers from this leg of tour indicate huge potential yield compared to previous years. This tour, that included only Iowa districts 1, 4 and 7. District 1 (northwest) averaged 184.97, District 4 (west central) averaged 189.79 and District 7 (southwest) averaged 183.53.
While not the official Iowa Crop Tour figures, which will be released on Thursday night in Austin, Minn., the indications are that the western 1/3 of the Hawkeye state may provide some balance to the less-than-enthusiastic attitude being reported from the eastern part of the state. In this region, farmers are staring a bin buster straight in the face. No other way to put it. 

The Reasons
A ramp up in plant populations is the primary reason for the increased yield potential, Flory says. "We decided we could push the yield, so we decided to plant a little more. It's paying off.”
Of course, adequate moisture and a good growing season have had an impact. Veteran crop scout Dick Oberly says "I've never seen anything like this.” As the blockman (he's in charge of the adjustors) for Rain & Hail crop insurance in the southern Minnesota the past 21 years, he's seen some bad situations every year. "Overall the crop was very consistent. I didn't see anything that was bad that I very honestly expected in some of the areas. Normally, the rule of law, you don't expect to see a crop that's superior in nature in every area. You don't expect to see field after field of an outstanding crop. I saw it today.”
Oberly saw corn that was more mature in the southern part of his route that started just south of Glenwood, Iowa, and went just east of Atlantic to Lake City and through Fonda before finishing up south of Spencer, indicating confidence in southern yields. As the group he led moved north, the crop gradually showed increasing potential, but it lagged in development with most corn being in the milk and onlhy some being in the early dough stage.
"I've never seen anything like it in crop district 7 (southwest Iowa) and I travelled the exact same route we did last year,” said Jay Merryman from Marshalltown, Iowa, who toured the area just east of I-29 from Hamburg, Iowa, to Spencer. Though he was less enthusiastic than he expected about some areas. "We averaged over 200 bushels on our samples and three weeks from now it will be free from frost. As we worked the numbers in crop district 4, I would put them at an eight, maybe a seven because of what USDA reported in August.”
Don't Forget the Beans!
"I scored the beans a 10 all day,” Merryman says, indicating he believes the western third of Iowa has an outstanding soybean crop in the making, as well.
Oberly's group saw some good soybean yields as well, though not as outstanding as the corn crop. But maybe that's because they saw some great potential in corn.
Crop Tour soybean pod counts today were 1159.52 pods in District 1 up 11.1% from 2008; 1214.07 in District 4 up 11.6% from last year, and 1282.7 in District 7, which is up 12% from a year ago levels. A good soybean crop by any measure, though yield is not determined on the tour.
Pro Farmer will release its official yield estimates for both corn and soybeans on Friday afternoon at 1:30 CT.

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