(Nebraska City, Neb.) – Surveys of Nebraska corn fields on the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour indicate a less impressive crop this year compared to last year with yield estimated at 141.8 bushels/acre, down from last year's tour estimate of 147.1 bushels/acre.
The lower estimate on corn yield comes amid disappointment in the performance of irrigated fields found throughout Nebraska. Planting problems and leaching of nitrogen due to excessive moisture earlier in the year were noted as likely problems for the less-than-impressive corn yield number in the sampled fields, producers and crop scouts said.
Total sampled corn fields in Nebraska were tallied at 172 with 73 fields being irrigated.
Marvin Nadherny, corn and soybean producer from Fillmore County, Neb., says those problems are evident in his own growing area in the southeastern part of the state.
"I've seen a lot more yellow corn this year than ever before,” Nadherny says. The overabundance of moisture from April through June caused nitrogen to leach from the soil, he says. Shallow root depth is also a problem, he says.
"It was so wet, the roots didn't get established,” Nadherny added. "It was raining all the time.”
Annual precipitation in Fillmore County is normally 21 inches, Nadherny says. But this year, precipitation since April already totals 27 inches.
While nitrogen loss and shallow root systems are prevailing problems throughout Nebraska, delayed maturity is also a concern due to late planting. Producers are hoping for the first frost of the season to be delayed until after Oct. 1. The first frost normally occurs in mid to late September.
As of Sunday, 70 percent of the Nebraska corn crop was dented, compared to 85 percent a year ago, according to USDA's weekly crop progress report.
The tour's corn yield estimate is 13 percent below USDA's August estimate of 163.0 bushels/acre with production pegged at 1.426 million bushels.
Soybean yield potential was also less promising with pod counts in a three foot by three foot square averaging 1,136.1 pods, down slightly from 1,143.7 pods in 2007. Field samples totaled 164 with irrigated fields numbering 58.
Delayed maturity was consistently observed throughout the state with many fields still in the blooming stage, crop scouts said. Of chief concern is the dryness.
"Dryland (non-irrigated) beans will be an issue,” says tour leader and Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory. "The crop needs water right now to finish off.”
The condition of the Nebraska soybean crop was rated at 75 percent good-to-excellent, which is even to last year. However, 77 percent of the crop was setting pods, lagging behind last year's rate of 93 percent.
USDA currently figures Nebraska soybean yield at 50.0 bushels/acre, down slightly from last year's yield of 50.5 bushels/acre. USDA estimates Nebraska soybean production at 235,000 bushels.
Wednesday, the western leg of the tour will journey to Spencer, Iowa and then conclude Thursday in Austin, Minn., where it will meet with the eastern leg of the tour.