Western Tour: Irrigated Corn, Soy Fields Dissappointing in Nebraska

August 18, 2008 07:00 PM
Tanner Ehmke, AgWeb

(Weston, Neb.) – Crop scouts on the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour were scratching their heads Tuesday in wonderment over unimpressive irrigated corn conditions in Nebraska while the soybean crop was deemed underdeveloped.

In one route through east-central Nebraska, samples from seven fields across Hamilton, Polk, Butler, and Saunders counties indicated an average corn yield projection of 147.7 bushels/acre, down from the average of 151.7 bushels/acre for the same region in last year's crop tour. Field estimates this year ranged from 47.1 to 208.9 bushels/acre in the region with five samples coming from irrigated fields.

Tour participants agreed that yield potential should be much higher than what is currently being indicated considering all fields are irrigated.

"The overall appearance of everything sure looks good from the windshield,” says Chuck Staub, corn and soybean producer in Dodge County, Minn. "You always hear about such bodacious crops that are irrigated, but I haven't seen that.”

Staub says that of the of the seven fields sampled in Hamilton, Polk, Butler and Saunders counties in east-central Nebraska, only one field met his expectations on what a crop should be that is irrigated.

"Everything looks better than what it really is when you actually get out there in the field,” Staub said. "There's something lacking in the irrigated corn.”

Bob Meduna, Sr., corn and soybean producer in Saunders County, said the excessive rainfall earlier resulted in the leaching of nitrogen applied in the fall, which is now causing problems with plant development. Rainfall in Saunders County from April through June totaled 24.3 inches – well above normal in the region, Meduna says.

Pioneer Seed Representative Bob Meduna, Jr., says the excessive moisture earlier in the year also caused problems with flooded fields and delayed planting that is now raising concerns of late development. Monday, USDA reported 19% of the Nebraska corn crop was dented, compared to 46% a year ago.

"We never had a good opportunity to plant,” Bob Meduna, Jr., says. "There were a few farmers that mudded it in.”

Meduna added that because of the rains earlier in the year, producers also have not been keeping up with irrigation rates.  

For soybeans late development is also a concern, tour participants said. Darwin Ebline, crop scout and Iowa corn and soybean producer, says the soybean crop was disappointing because of the slow progress.

Soybean pod counts averaged 906 pods in three feet, compared to 1,157.7 pods last year in the same region. Samples ranged from 455 to 1,584 pods per three feet.

Similar to other areas of Nebraska sampled Monday, aphids were also a concern in the east-central areas of the state. Bob Meduna, Jr., says the high aphid population is a once in a 25-year event.

Tonight, the western leg of the tour will convene in Nebraska City, Neb., where data will be compiled from all six routes and yield projections for Nebraska will be reported.


You can e-mail Tanner Ehmke at tehmke@agweb.com.

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