We spent most of Thursday traveling through the northern half of Indiana. We moved west to east through the northern crop districts, then turned south to the central districts and then turned back west. This route gives us a good cross section of Indiana's most productive producing areas.
Northwestern Indiana has issues. It appears that half or more of the corn crop is a month late. Soils are sandy so plant counts are usually lower in region. Rainfall is supplemented with irrigation. The crop looks good if it were mid to late June rather than late July. Crop maturity varies across the northern crop districts. There are pockets were the crop is near normal, then it shifts to a mix of near normal and late and then other areas were it's generally 3 to 4 weeks late. Field checks turned up a wide range of plant counts. Some of the early corn looked good from the road, but plant counts were disappointing. On the other hand, the late corn had very high populations, but the lateness will tend to limit ear weight.
We noted continued variability in development across central Indiana as well. However, concern over lateness was compounded by dryness. The crop in east central and central Indiana faces a potential double whammy. Crop prospects improve dramatically in the west central crop district. Corn in this region is tracking normal maturity and our field checks turned up high plant counts and great yield potential.
Overall, we rate Indiana's yield potential below trend. Crop condition ratings appear to overstate yield prospects.
Our soybean observations share most of the same attributes that are discussed above with regards to corn. Similar to the situation with corn, soybeans across northern Indiana are broadly speaking anywhere from two weeks late to four or more. Many fields appeared to have been planted in mid to late June. Thus while they are up and have ok stands, vegetative growth is far behind normal and will be an impediment to yields as there won't be enough time to establish the full yield potential. This places at least half of the fields at a yield disadvantage one week ahead of the critical August weather month. Another issue that we observed, and this is not exclusive to Indiana, is that because of the weather challenges, many fields are excessively weedy. It has been common during the trip to see field applications of chemicals, although not so much today in Indiana.
Soybeans were much improved in central and west central Indiana in comparison to northern and eastern areas. The potential does not compare to those great bean fields that we observed on Wednesday in eastern Iowa, for example, but they were solid heading into August.
As noted with the corn observations, soybean fields are at risk of a substantial yield setback if August is dry. The late plantings already are a challenge, and we began to see dry weather impacting some of the Indiana soybean fields. There is still risk for a substantial setback in Indiana yields, something that the Iowa crop, for example, is much less at risk of experiencing.
Overall, we found a crop today that does not quite live up to the current state crop rating. That appears to overstate what we saw. Our overall impression was of a crop whose yield potential is moderately below trend with August weather still to come.
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SOURCE: Doane Advisory Services.