Pro Farmer Crop Tour: Day Two Recap

Higher than last year, lower than USDA projections is where Pro Farmer Crop Tour Yield Estimates come in for the Indiana corn crop on Tuesday. Pro Farmer Editor and Eastern Leg Crop Tour Leader Brian Grete says they found an average yield in Indiana of 180.81 bushels per acre which included a couple surprises.

“One we didn’t see as many bushels in Indiana as what USDA calculated. There are some differences in how the methodology is done and those types of things so that’s not much of a surprise, probably the bigger surprise for me is the fact that the Ohio tour samples came in stronger than the Indiana did.” 

USDA’s projection is 195 bushels per acre. Scout Bryan Coffman from Southwest Iowa says that matched what he witnessed.

“We started out seeing some pretty good crops just like we did the first day coming out of Ohio and coming into Eastern Indiana. We have run into a few spots here that aren’t quite as good, you can tell that maybe they haven’t quite gotten the rains, as other places have, kind of similar to what they are seeing in Iowa.” 

For soybeans Grete says tour results again showed a theme of a heavily podded soybean crop in the Eastern Corn Belt, 1309.96, that’s up 12.3 percent from a year ago, in a three by three foot square.

“That can be a good thing if they get late season rains and the weather is favorable and those types of things and those pods that are out there and are allowed to form up and that type of thing. It can be a bad thing if they don’t get favorable late season weather and they abort pods. So, those high pod counts don’t necessarily equate to a strong yield, it just means we have a better yield factory as we sit here in the third week of August.” 

For his part, Coffman is in his sixth year as a scout and says he’s always learning from what he sees.

“I’ve farmed in Iowa for years and you kind of always think about the Midwest in general and you kind of always kind of think you know what’s out there. The first year was totally out of curiosity to kind of see what it’s like out East. Ohio soils and Indiana soils are way different than what we have in Illinois and Iowa, and even Nebraska and Minnesota. That was kind of my first learning curve on that.”

Wednesday’s Eastern Leg route runs from Bloomington Illinois to Coralville, Iowa.

Day two of the 2023 Pro Farmer Crop Tour was all about Nebraska on the western leg. Western leg leader Chip Flory said the results in Nebraska were highly variable. The corn yield estimate was 167.2 bushel per acre, five percent higher than last year but almost three percent lower than the three-year average. The soybean yield count was 1,160.02 pods in a three-foot-by-three-foot square. Flory says the soybean crop is feeling significant drought stress.

“It’s a nice pod count in Nebraska. But boy, we were in several soybean fields on all ten routes today that are right on the edge of giving it up for the year. It needs rain tonight and it doesn’t look like it’s coming. And I think it’s over a wider area than what it was a year ago. When we do our soybean observations, we rate the soil moisture, and it’s just an observation, but we came back drier this year than what we were a year ago.”

While the corn yield number is a small rebound from last year, Flory isn’t sure rain is going to help much in Nebraska’s dryland corn.

“On the maturity side of the corn crop out here, we had the discussion just a little bit ago here in Nebraska City with the folks, and I said I don’t mean to sound like the growing season is completely done and wrapped up. But on a lot of the dryland corn that we saw, I don’t think rain is going to do a whole lot to help it. The ears are hanging on the outside of the row, and I was in soybeans all day, but there was general agreement from the scouts that the ears were hanging even worse once you get past the end rows and into the main part of the field.”

Iowa farmer and veteran crop scout Brent Judisch says he didn’t get into the areas hardest hit by drought.

“I was north of the bad areas. I was along and south of I-80 and within about 30 miles of the interstate, so I didn’t get into the really bad stuff. We only had one low yield of 1-2 bushels in the corn, but I thought overall the crop held up well into the heat this week, and I think it’s probably going to finish okay because the corn is denting and approaching black layer. The soybeans are going to finish up okay, and of course, the irrigated soybeans are going to finish better.”

Judisch says his route didn’t see a lot in terms of pest or disease pressure.

“We encountered a few minor things, but no grasshoppers like yesterday. We did have some rootworm lodging in a couple of irrigated fields, but they were just leaning. They weren’t tipped over or broken off. They were just leaning, but again, that was only two fields.”

Day three along the western leg will end with a stop in Spencer, Iowa.