August 22, 2008


US Crop Tour finds Iowa corn yield up slightly soy pods drop

Scouts on the 2008 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour made a slightly higher Iowa corn yield estimate than they did a year ago, but soy pod counts dropped, as the state's crop tries to recover from the historic flooding that battered the state in June.


Iowa corn had an estimated yield of 168.3 bushels per acre, compared to the tour's estimate last year of 167.7. The USDA projects a corn yield of 171 bushels per acre in the state, which would be the same as last year's crop.


Soy pod counts in a three-foot-by-three-foot square area averaged 1,091, down from last year's estimate of 1,218. The tour does not calculate yield potential because soy have too much growing season left.


Results were based on 325 samples taken throughout the state.


The state's crop has recovered nicely, said Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Editor, but it remains behind and will need to continue its development.


"Iowa has been living on the edge all season," Flory said.


Corn Yields were strongest across northern parts of the state and in west-central Iowa, according to Pro Farmer data. Scouts reported weaker corn crops in the central and south-central parts of the state.


A tour that traveled northeast from Iowa City to Marshalltown before heading due north found inconsistent corn and soy crops in the central part of the state. Scouts noted some fields that had been flooded out and others with blank spots.


The state was hardest hit by the wet spring and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the US corn belt in June.


"You can see the unevenness," said a veteran tour scout from Minnesota. "They're going to be hurt this year."


At the same time, many cobs sampled had blank tips, which a scout said indicated the plant "ran out of gas" during the pollination period because of a lack of moisture. Scouts also observed wind damage in some fields, and lots of discoloration.


"This year there' a strange off-color to the crop just about everywhere you go," said Mark Bernard, crop consultant on the eastern leg of the trip.


Dry soils were less of a problem on the route than scouts had seen throughout the eastern leg of the tour, but scouts said rain that fell on eastern and central parts of the state Thursday was much-needed.


Scouts reported continued signs of nitrogen loss for corn in many fields, which they said was likely caused by the wet spring.


But scouts on some other routes reported better conditions. A scout who traveled a route north of Cedar Rapids said corn was consistently strong throughout the day, with some yields over 200 bushels per acre.


Soy fields were also spotty. Some fields had widely varying plant heights and blank spots, making it difficult for scouts to locate a representative sample.


The scout from Minnesota said the fields showed the effects of too much moisture in the spring.


Brian Nebergall, a crop adjuster with John Deere Ltd., told farmers in Iowa City that the crop "definitely does not need an early frost."


The USDA estimates corn production at 2.206 billion bushels, down from 2.284 billion last year.


The USDA projects soy yields will drop to 47 bushels per acre from 51.5 bushels last year. Total production is estimated at 437.1 million bushels, down from 438.8 last year.


The tour, which began Monday with an eastern leg setting out from Columbus, Ohio, and a western leg starting out in Souix Falls, S.D., concluded Thursday in Austin, Minn.


On Friday at 10 a.m., EDT, Pro Farmer will release a crop estimate. Tour findings are one part of that calculation.

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