Crop Tour: Iowa Falls Short Of First On Corn Yield

2018 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour
( Betsy Jibben )

While Iowa corn shows significant improvements over the 2017 Pro Farmer estimates, at 188.20 bu. per acre, Minnesota corn took a nose dive under last year at just 178.67 bu. per acre. Alternatively, soybeans show improvements over last year in both states as Iowa climbed to 1208.99 pods and Minnesota reached 1090.47 pods per 3X3 square.

Of the seven states Pro Farm Crop Tour scouts sampled, Iowa came in second only to Illinois on corn yields and Minnesota came in second to last*.

“That’s [Iowa’s corn yield] up 4.7% from last year [179.79 bu. per acre], so once again we find bigger corn yields here in the state of Iowa,” says Brian Grete, Pro Farmer Editor and leader of the east leg of the Tour. “I will say that when you break it down by district there’s quite a variance.”

From north to south, Iowa showed a wide range of conditions. Farmers in the northern part of the state struggled with excess moisture throughout the year, while some farmers in the south endured drought-like conditions. Others still had nearly perfect conditions.

Iowa corn isn’t as far along as what scouts saw in previous states. Scouts found just a handful of samples that were actually in the dent stage. This could have implications for the estimates Pro Farmer gathered today.

“It just means we measured more potential, not as much yield,” Grete explains. “But we measured a lot of yield when we were out in the eastern Corn Belt [where corn was further along]. So, this means [in Iowa] it could add some or it could lose some—we just don’t know yet until the finish line.”

Soybeans were heavily podded and showed few disease issues. “Bean [yields] were up 10.6%,” Grete says. Last year the state was estimated at 1092.92 pods per 3X3 square, short of the three-year average of 1178.80 pods per 3X3 square.

Agronomists on the Tour said something triggered the bean crop to get it to start setting pods and wrapping up earlier. They found a greater number of larger pods throughout their time in the Hawkeye state. This estimate could be pretty close to spot-on.

“We’ve got a lot of pods and they’re pretty plump at this point in time, so they’ll use that moisture to plump up even more,” Grete says. “But you’re not adding those extra pods that you do sometimes late in the year.”

Crop scouts estimate Iowa corn will yield 188.20 bu. per acre and soybeans at 1208.99 pods per 3X3 square. Despite many promising fields, Iowa couldn’t pull ahead to beat Illinois.

  • District 1: 79 corn and soybean samples
    • Corn: 186.87
    • Soybeans: 1081.82
  • District 2: 40 corn and soybean samples
    • Corn: 191.74
    • Soybeans: 1070.25
  • District 3: 59 corn, 60 soybean samples
    • Corn: 186.89
    • Soybeans: 1147.36
  • District 4: 73 corn, 72 soybean samples
    • Corn: 186.77
    • Soybeans: 1258.49
  • District 5: 36 corn, 39 soybean samples
    • Corn: 193.00
    • Soybeans: 1158.10
  • District 6: 77 corn, 70 soybeans
    • Corn: 196.67
    • Soybeans: 1297.22
  • District 7: 38 corn and soybean samples
    • Corn: 179.82
    • Soybeans: 1445.07
  • District 8: 15 samples
    • Corn: 150.63
    • Soybeans: 1267.36
  • District 9: 29 corn, 28 soybean samples
    • Corn: 195.21
    • Soybeans: 1236.99

Minnesota corn estimates took a sharp dive from a year ago when they were pegged at 191.5 bu. per acre. The crop is not maturing very quickly, with some stands just tasseling in the past two weeks.

“[That late tasseling was] in central Minnesota where I think some of the heaviest rains hit,” says Jeff Wilson, Pro Farmer Senior Analyst and lead on the western leg of the Tour. “Southwest was a little further along than I think. It was just starting to dent but there were several fields that were still in dough.”

Many of these fields were in trouble, showing low ear counts, shorter grain length and fewer kernels around. But because it’s an immature crop, yields could go up or down from these estimates.

“It’s racing a little bit against time and I would say that the situation is going to be very interesting to see how it goes from here on,” Wilson says.

Soybeans were variable throughout the state—and disease pressure echoed that sentiment. The farther north they went, the more scouts saw diseases. However, soybeans were the darling for the state and even beat last year’s estimate, 1019.96, and the three-year average, 1082.26 pods per 3X3 square. That’s a 7.1% increase year over year.

Minnesota’s early season challenges put corn at 178.67 bu. per acre and soybeans at 1090.47 pods per 3X3 square.

  • District 4: 1 sample
    • Corn: 173.25
    • Soybeans: 865.98
  • District 5: 5 samples
    • Corn: 185.82
    • Soybeans: 1339.48
  • District 7: 48 corn, 50 soybean samples
    • Corn: 164.46
    • Soybeans: 1045.78
  • District 8: 115 samples
    • Corn: 178.84
    • Soybeans: 1103.03
  • District 9: 43 samples
    • Corn: 193.36
    • Soybeans: 1085.12

More than 100 crop scouts joined together this year across seven states to pull more than 2800 total samples of corn and soybeans. Many were on the road by 6:30 in the morning and worked well into the evening to bring together these estimates. Stay tuned tomorrow when Pro Farmer announces its national yield estimates for corn and soybeans at 1:30 CST on

*CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story it incorrectly stated Minnesota in last on corn yield at 178.67 bu. per acre. South Dakota came in lower at 178.01.