Western Tour Comments from Terry Johnston, Day 1

August 17, 2009 07:00 PM

We rolled out this morning to a cool morning and a beautiful sunrise, a great start to the day as we collected our samples from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Grand Island, Nebraska.

As we headed into the fields in SE South Dakota the conditions we found were similar to last year. The moisture levels are good compared to years in the past where there was obvious drought stress to the crops, especially the dry land acres. The roadsides, pastures, hay fields and pivot corners are green and that's pretty unusual for August in this part of the country. In addition to good moisture levels overall plant heath of the corn and bean crop is about as good as I've seen in the many years I've been on the western leg of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour. There are some acres that were affected by hail and in some cases seriously, and we really won't know the impact until harvest. There were also some isolated areas that we noticed were showing some signs of stress, a timely rain would certainly benefit those acres. The disease and insect pressure is light for the most part, the most pressure we did see was in the hailed fields or the drier fields. The maturity of the SD crop is the most prominent topic of conversations among the scouts and with the growers we spoke with. The crop has good potential with timely rains and a later than normal frost.

The NE Nebraska crop is similar to last year and the SE SD crop -- moisture levels are good and disease and insect pressure is light. Hail damage was more prevalent as we moved into NE Nebraska, some areas were several miles wide and several miles long. One scout mentioned that they saw some degree of hail damage in every county the pulled samples from. Those hailed areas showed more disease and inspect pressure than the fields that had good plant health and moisture level. One scout commented that grey leaf spot and rust had moved into some of the corn fields that were hailed, along with corn rootworm beatles and corn aphids. There was light aphid pressure noted in the bean fields -- and seeing the spray planes flying the countryside, I think aphid populations are being managed well this year. The weed pressure we noted was volunteer corn in soybeans. The crop overall has good potential, but it's behind in development. We saw more corn in dough stage than we did in SE South Dakota and bean pods were more filled out. More comments tomorrow from SE Nebraska.

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