Crop Tour: South Dakota and Ohio Yields Plummet with Poor Planting

Eastern Crop Tour Package Day 1 082019
Scouts on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour saw low yield potential in South Dakota and Ohio. ( Pro Farmer Scouts )

Mother Nature wreaked havoc on Ohio and South Dakota corn and soybean fields this spring. Each state’s anticipated corn yield fell by more than 20 bu. per acre compared to the 2018 Pro Farmer Crop Tour data. Soybeans aren’t in much better shape with South Dakota pod counts 18% less than last year and Ohio yields 38.7% less than last year.

Ohio corn averaged 154.35 bu. per acre and soybean pods per 3 x 3 square averaged 764.01. In 2018, which was one of the best years scouts said they had ever seen, corn estimates hit 179.57 bu. per acre and soybeans averaged 1,248.2 pods per 3X3 square. In total, scouts took 116 corn samples and 119 soybean samples on Monday.

“The scouts worked really hard,” says Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete, who lead the eastern leg of the Crop Tour. “We even ended up grabbing a couple more samples this year than what we have in the past—even with all the prevent plant acres out there.”

The Ohio crop is still incredibly immature, according to Grete, so instead of measuring realized yield, scouts are measuring potential yield. With a more-than 20 bu. per acre decrease in year over year estimates, where did the shortfall come from?

“It was your ear counts, they were down pretty significantly—about 10%,” Grete says. “Grain length was down a little, but not a whole lot and so were kernel rows. But really the driver was lower ear count.”


Soybean pod counts were greatly reduced compared to 2018, too.

“Last year was a huge year for pods pretty much across the Corn Belt, Ohio especially,” Grete explains. “This year was a really low number for pod counts in Ohio. We’re down almost 400 pods from the three-year average [1,136.75].”

He says what scouts saw today is what you’d expect to see in double-crop soybeans. However, Grete was impressed with how clean the soybeans were of diseases, insects and weeds.

All in all, this year’s Ohio results are staggering.

  • Corn
    • District 1: 29 samples
      • Yield 161.94
    • District 2: 14 samples
      • Yield 155.78
    • District 4: 48 samples
      • Yield 144.84
    • District 5: 20 samples
      • Yield 158.52
    • District 7: 5 samples
      • Yield 180.92
  • Soybeans
    • District 1: 33 samples
      • Pods 639.25
    • District 2: 14 samples
      • Pods 758.55
    • District 4: 47 samples
      • Pods 841.67
    • District 5: 20 samples
      • Pods 786.93
    • District 7: 5 samples
      • Pods 781.09

In South Dakota, fields dive to 154.08 bu. per acre in corn and just 832.85 pods per 3x3 square in soybeans. Compared to last year, these numbers are shocking. In 2018, corn averaged a stunning 178.01 bu. per acre and soybeans soared above previous averages to hit 1,024.72 pods per 3x3 square.

“This year was very time consuming. We got as many samples as we did a year ago—and that was going around a lot of prevent plant acres,” says Jeff Wilson, leader of the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. “You might have to pick a corn estimate here and then have to drive another quarter mile to half mile to find your soybeans estimate.”

South Dakota has about 2.8 million prevent plant acres this year. Most of which are located in the southeast part of the state. Prevent plant acres that didn’t get a cover crop or alternative crop in are very weedy, according Wilson.

The state is only 2.5% below the three-year average in corn yield.

“It’s usually a pretty good [production] part of the state we measure but we do know if you go just a little northwest there’s some pretty good crops up there,” Wilson says. “We didn’t measure those today. They were able to plant so they might actually pull the state average corn yield up a little more.”

Ear count pulled corn yields down this year, just like it did in Ohio. Grain length was also down, but surprisingly, kernels around increased.

“We were amaze at how immature the corn was,” Wilson continues. “Of the 10 samples we pulled along [my route] we were pulling ears [only at] blister. That’s not a good signal.”

As scouts trudged through soybean fields, they found lower pod counts and short plants. Soybean pod counts are down almost 14% from the Pro Farmer three-year average.


One important note, corn must be pollinated, and soybeans pods must measure more than ¼” to be counted. Scouts pulled 68 corn samples and 69 soybean samples in the state.?650:599


  • Corn
    • District 5: 2 samples
      • Yield 198.48
    • District 6: 23 samples
      • Yield 152.8
    • District 9: 43 samples
      • Yield 152.73
  • Soybeans
    • District 5: 2 samples
      • Pods 714.73
    • District 6: 24 samples
      • Pods 717.14
    • District 9: 43 samples
      • Pods 902.93

Find complete Crop Tour route reports, market analysis and historical comparisons at

Listen to today’s Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour podcast to hear in more detail what scouts saw, and what they expect harvest to bring.


Follow along with today’s coverage:

Inconsistent, Sparse Fields Plague South Dakota

Soybeans Have a Long Way to Go in South Dakota

Corn Needs Extra Two to Three Weeks to Beat Frost

Grete: Immature Crops to Present Challenge in Ohio

‘Sobering’ Sights Greet #PFTour19 Scouts