August 19, 2008


US tour shows corn crop yields in Ohio up, number of soy pods down


Corn yields in Ohio are expected to climb this year while soybean pod counts drop and late plantings have put the crop in a tenuous situation, scouts on the eastern leg of the 2008 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour said Monday (August 18, 2008).


Officials estimated the Ohio corn yield at an average 148.75 bushels per acre, up from the 2007 estimate of 144.31 bushels per acre.


The USDA in August estimated corn yield at 160 bushels per acre, which would be up from last year's total of 150 bushels per acre.


The tour does not compare its findings with the USDA's, relying instead on comparisons with its own past estimates.


The emphasis in Ohio was on yield "potential," said Roger Bernard, director of the eastern leg of the tour and Pro Farmer news editor. Corn and soy fields varied widely on the tour, scouts reported.


Still, considering what the crop has been through, "it looks pretty good from the road", Bernard said.


Bernard and other participants cited numerous examples of fields that have the potential to produce solid crops, but that will face yield losses if hit with an early frost or, in many cases, even a normal first frost. They said the crop appeared to be one to three weeks behind schedule.


The tour found an average Ohio soy count of 1,103.61 pods in a three-foot by three-foot square area, down from last year's tour estimate of 1,226.70. The tour does not make a soy yield estimate because so much of the soybean crop is still being made in August.


The tour will continue west Tuesday and will gather again in Bloomington, Ill., where officials will calculate corn yield and soybean pod count estimates for Indiana.


Scouts on several tours Monday reported unexpectedly dry conditions. An Iowa farmer and crop tour veteran noted a couple cornfields near the Indiana border where the ears appeared to have stopped growing because the crop ran out of moisture. He added that he did not see any moist fields along the way.


He noted that in some spots corn was "firing," a condition in which the bottom of the stalk turns brown as the plant tries to survive stress from dry weather.


But Lou Arens, a commodity broker and tour veteran from Iowa, said he came into the tour skeptical of optimistic corn crop projections, but came away "impressed" with the state of the crop.


Central and north-central Ohio reported the lowest corn yield estimates, with 140.64 and 126.97 bushels per acre, respectively.


Soybean pod counts were also highest in the western part of the state. Bernard said there was a lot of potential for Ohio's soybean crop, but that many of pods were just a quarter-inch in length and would need rainfall soon in order to thrive.


The tour include 12 routes on Tuesday. It will end in Austin, Minn., on Thursday night, and Pro Farmer will release its overall estimates, which include data collected from the tour, Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

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