From the Rows with Brian Grete
The second day of the 2017 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour featured scouts sampling fields along 12 designated routes from Fishers, Indiana (a suburb o Indianapolis) to Bloomington, Illinois. We got wet almost from the start on my route, though we missed the heaviest rains.
My route took me northwest out of Fishers up through Indiana crop districts 5 and 4. The variability we saw on Day 1 in western Ohio and eastern Indiana continued, though it wasn't quite as extreme on my route. Still, we had a range of corn yields from 133.1 to 226.8 bu. per acre, with an average of 174.8 bu. per acre. While there was a wide range of yields, if you threw out the low and high, the range would have narrowed to 151.5 bu. to 210.7 bu. per acre. All of the fields we sampled had signs of stress from struggles earlier in the growing season, which resulted in stalk/plant quality issues in many of the fields.
Soybeans we sampled in western Indiana were disappointing. My route had an average 3'x3' pod count of 897, with a range of 343 to 1296. There wasn't a lot of disease or insect pressure on the fields we sampled, but the pods just weren't there. However, the rains that fell will help the soybean crop fill pods.
As we crossed over into eastern Illinois, the tables turned. Corn yields were disappointing along our route in Illinois crop districts 5 and 4, ranging from 92.9 bu. to 199 bu. per acre, with an average yield of 158.8 bu. per acre. The counties we sampled from have some of the best dirt in the Corn Belt and would typically yield 200-bu.-plus in a normal year. The disappointing results we found are reflective of the many struggles this area has faced this year -- too much water early and then extended dryness during the middle of summer.
While corn yields dropped as we moved into eastern and central Illinois, soybean pod counts improved. My route found an average 3'x3' pod count of 1289 in the fields we sampled in Illinois crop districts 5 and 4. The range of pod counts was 940 to 1656. But if you throw out the top and bottom, the range would be 1154 to 1382. The rains that fell overnight and during the morning of Aug. 22 will help the soybean crop in this area fill pods.
Final Day 1 observations
The all-sample average on Indiana corn came in at 171.23 bu. per acre, down 1.3% from year-ago. Ear counts were down 2.6% from what we found last year, while grain length was up -- the same story we saw in Ohio. Crop maturity was more advanced than we saw in Ohio, but still behind normal in many of the fields. The exceptions to that are fields that have been stressed enough to push maturity. But even then, maturity within fields varies. There are likely going to be some tough decisions ahead on when farmers will harvest fields. And it appears there will be some increased drying costs unless it's a late fall.
The all-sample soybean pod count in Indiana came in at 1168.78, down 0.8% from last year. Soil moisture was down 6.7%, though that number would have been much lower if not for the heavy rains that fell overnight and during the morning as we were scouting fields. However, those rains will help know the soybean crop.
Like Ohio, the Indiana corn and soybean crops are going to need time and late-season rains to finish strong. In the case of corn, it will be a matter of whether the crop can hang onto the yield potential we measured. That's always a question in years with a less mature crop. For soybeans, so much rides on late-season weather, as is typical, though this year it's probably even more so the case.