August 20, 2008

US crop tour finds lower corn yields and fewer soy pods in Nebraska


The western leg of the 2008 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour wound its way across Nebraska cropping districts Tuesday (August 19, 2008), finding improved crop conditions from fields surveyed Monday, but off averages taken in 2007.


Crop scouts who took random samples in more than 172 fields reported Nebraska corn yields and soy pod counts had declined from 2007's totals.


Tour participants reported good yield potential for corn crops, but contended that there remained many uncertainties that could trim expectations in the coming weeks.


The overall condition of the corn crop was down from 2007 tour findings, with an estimated corn yield of 141.82 bushels per acre. The yield is a 3.6 percent decrease from 2007's 147.11, but up from the three-year tour average of 139.45 bushels per acre. The USDA in its August report estimated a 2-percent increase in Nebraska corn yields from 2007.


The average ear count in a 60-foot row was 79.49 compared with the three-year tour average of 79.61. The average kernel row was 16.29 inches, up from the three-year average of 15.91.


However, variability within fields remained a concern, with the need for good finishing weather seen as the determinant for yield potential, said Chip Flory, editor Pro Farmer Newsletter and director of the western leg of the tour addressing the numerous guests that had assembled.


Wide variations were seen between crops in northern Nebraska and crops surveyed in southeastern Nebraska. The crops potential improved as scouts moved east, with maturity levels on track to achieve average yields.


The corn crop overall looks healthy with little insect or disease pressure, but some dryness issues remains for dry land crops, said Gary Wietgrefe of NK Brand-Syngenta in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


The average soy pod count in a three-foot by three-foot square collected from the six Nebraska cropping districts sampled was 1,136.08, down 0.6 percent, from last year.


Nebraska's soy crop has a lot of uncertainty, as late developing crops will need to avoid any early frosts and some good finishing rains for crops to reach potential, said Brian Grete, senior analyst with Pro Framer.


Soy observations revealed a big variance between pod counts from field to field, with maturity issues cited amid late planted soy crops. Soil moisture is seen as a key factor in dry land crops, with many crops in need of a good drink now, said a crop scout from Iowa.


Nevertheless, the overall consensus is that the crop has good potential, with soy possibly adding bushels to yields if they receive a good finishing rain.


The western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tours treks across western Iowa corn and soy fields Wednesday. The Pro Farmer tour also has an eastern leg, which began Monday in Columbus, Ohio. Both legs of the tour will converge in Austin, Minn., on Thursday.


On Friday at 10 a.m., EDT, Pro Farmer will release a crop estimate, but tour findings are only one part of their calculation.

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