Pro Farmer Crop Tour Day 3 Recap: Iowa Crops a “No-Meat Sandwich”

The western leg of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour scouted corn and soybean fields in Western Iowa during day three. Leader Chip Flory said they cover three districts in Western Iowa. The corn yield estimate in District 1 was 182.5 bushels an acre, almost even with last year. The Corn District 4 yield estimate reached 168.7 bushels an acre, down almost seven percent from 2022. The Corn District 7 yield estimate was 184.8 bushels, six percent above last year. Flory talked about what they saw in Iowa cornfields.

“I saw a no-meat sandwich today. Really good stuff in the south and good stuff in the north, but we were missing stuff in the middle of the western part of the state. It was like a donut hole there in west central Iowa. Not a lot of good to talk about there. A lot of the problem was with grain length in Crop District 4. So, we were basically steady in northwest Iowa, down 6.7 percent in west central, and up 6.4 percent in the southwest part of the state.”

The soybean yield estimate in District 1 was 1,137.2 pods in a three-foot-by-three-foot square, a four percent increase from last year’s tour. The District 4 soybean estimate was 1,120.3 pods, down 11 percent from 2022. The District 7 estimate was 1,170.2 pods, down four percent from last year.  He says soybeans followed a similar pattern to corn.

“Yes, we had a 4.4 percent increase in the pods in Crop District 1. In Crop District 4, we were down 11 percent. And then we were down 4.4 percent in Crop District 7 on the pod counts. The white mold concerns me going forward. But as far as the moisture and the drought stress on the crop, I don’t feel like we were watching a bean crop die because of drought.”

Western leg crop scout Brent Judisch says while the corn crop isn’t bad, he thought it would be better than what they found.

“We sampled all the counties on the western border of Iowa, get to Minnesota, and then we take a right coming into Spencer from the north. We had 23 stops today. Corn only averaged 178. I expected better based on the weather they’ve had most of the year and the rains they’ve had late. They had some heavy rains here recently. The issue is I think it came too late to make the corn better.”

While the kernel count was good, he said Iowa corn fields were missing ear count and ear length. They didn’t find much in the way of pest or disease pressure on a very hot day.

“We did run into some green snap here and there. In one field, we had 12 percent green snap. It wasn’t a big area, but we had a couple of fields, I guess. It wasn’t rampant, no. It wasn’t a major issue. We only got to 98 with a heat index of 106. Yesterday, we had 105 with a heat index of 113. But the only negative is I do corn all day, and it’s a lot warmer in that cornfield when you get inside, and there’s no breeze.”  

Day four of the tour will finish on Thursday in Rochester, Minnesota.

Ramping up, anticipation of the findings from the Eastern Leg of the Pro Farm Crop Tour as scouts like Kyle Wendland traveled through parts of the largest two corn and soybean producing states on Wednesday, starting in Bloomington, Illinois.

“Started out, almost, kind of disappointing in Illinois. I keep saying it’s not a disaster but it’s just not a really good crop, it’s just a ho-hum seems average through Illinois.” 

At least on his route, yet that variability seen in the fields is worth noting.

“Does raise a red flag somewhat when the number two corn producer has some of that variability. To build a really, really big yield you typically need variability and we didn’t see that in Illinois.”

Eastern Leg Tour Leader and Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete says the final estimates came in a 193.72 bushels per acre, up 1.6 percent while USDA has the Illinois crop down a whopping six percent.

“But at 201 bushels per acre so we know we miss Illinois, measure it too light on Crop Tour and in years when Illinois has a yield of 200 or above, we miss it even more because the Southern third of the state where we don’t go on Crop Tour doesn’t pull down in those years.” 

As for beans, Grete says Illinois came in with a pod count of 1270.61 up 1.67 percent from last year in a 3×3 square. Wedland adds his route took him North of Bloomington for about 40 minutes then West of Lincoln.

“You’re seeing shorter plants, lower ear placements, you know signs from that June drought but they were still able to fill that ear really well. It wasn’t until I got into Iowa that I really started seeing drought stress.” 

Which sets the stage for today as scouts finish the number one corn producing state and number two soybean producing state – that would be Iowa – before the final meeting in Southern Minnesota.