Day Four: 2016 Midwest Crop Tour Leader Reports

Posted on 03/09/2017 10:21 AM


Western Tour Consultant Emily Carolan:



Last day! What a week it has been on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. On this leg of the western Tour, we found our way through Minnesota and we ended our night in Rochester Minnesota to a large crowd for the Tour recap and taping of U.S. Farm Report.


The Minnesota crop takes on a little bit different story than the other states we have toured through. Where other states saw average rain totals but the timing was bad, this MN crop never saw the lack of rain at any part in the growing season. They have had adequate amounts at each shower they had and you can tell this in the overall crop health of the state.

One important notice today is we had a higher ear count than expected. It is hard to walk through the end rows planted 48 rows deep because the stalks that are planted very consistently. You can tell when the crop was put in the ground either the middle of April or the beginning of May, the ground was fit. It is what happened after the crop that was planted mid-April that is causing problems while we were out taking samples. The crop experienced an exceptionally cold rain around April 27th and it caused inhibition chilling in some areas. This is going to shock the seed and cause it to use more energy than normal and is going to 'freeze' any growth that is supposed to happen as soil temperatures are going to warm back up. The seed will potentially come out of it but is behind the plants that did not experience this. Even if the plant is 2-3 growth stages behind the others, it will eventually become a weed, just like what we had all Tour long. From the route I was on today, I would expect 15% of all ears had this happen and only have 1-2 inches of grain at the bottom of the ear.

SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome) is also a new site along the route today as we headed East. It is not as heavy as what the eastern leg of the Tour saw but there is a presence in a few fields. The pressure though, isn't that heavy. SDS enters the plant when it is in the early vegetative growth stages due to wet, cool soils. The first place where the plant will be affected is the leaf discoloration. The leaves will begin to turn brown with a yellow halo around the area affected. The next sign is going to be the rotting of roots causing the plant to die prematurely. It is going to limit some fields by a few percentage points but what we went through today should not be set back only due to this disease.

The pod counts are strong, but have a long way to go. The one remarkable thing I have noticed is how close together the nodes are and the number of pods per nod. The plants are filled to the top and are showing signs of an exceptional bean yield here in Minnesota.

With mud on our boots, we ended up in Rochester where we had a great discussion with the scouts, growers we've met along the way, and others who brought this tour to life this year. It has been a journey and I am excited to see everyone, plus hopefully more, along the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour in 2017!


Eastern Tour Director Brian Grete:

Day 4 of the 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour had scouts sampling fields from Iowa City, Iowa, to Rochester, Minnesota, along 12 designated routes.

My team pulled 12 samples in Iowa crop districts 6 and 3 today, covering Iowa, Benton, Linn, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Fayette, Bremer, Chickasaw and Howard counties. The average corn yield from those 12 stops was 186 bu. per acre. We had a range of 140 bu. to 229 bu. per acre. Quite honestly, there was more variability than I anticipated. The average pod count in a 3'x3' square was 1,006.5, with a range of 540 to 1,901.

In the corn we sampled, a recurring theme was skips in rows and blank stalks. Other scouts sampling from eastern Iowa also reported the same issue, so it wasn't "dumb luck" that we saw this on my route. I would estimate on average there were at least 5 to 10 ears missing from the two sample rows on the fields we sampled. If those missing ears were present, yields could have gone from really good to spectacular. Stalk quality is also a potential issue in eastern Iowa. Many of the fields we were in were green from the ear up, but showed stalk rot issues and folliar diseases from the ear down. That could end up costing farmers some yields, especially if late-season weather is unfavorably wet or windy.

For Iowa, the Tour average corn yield was 188.17 bu. per acre, up 4.4% from last year's Tour.

For Minnesota, the average corn yield from Tour samples came in at 182.32 bu. per acre, down 4.5% from year-ago.

In the soybeans we sampled, pod counts were disappointing. We saw Sudden Death Syndrome and septoria brown spot in many of the fields. There was also scattered weed pressure, but it wasn't as noticeable as the foliar diseases. Soybeans have the moisture to finish strong, but disease pressure in eastern Iowa may limit the soybean crop from fully benefiting from the favorable August weather.

For Iowa, the Tour average soybean pod count in a 3'x3' square was 1,224.28, up 0.4% from last year.

For Minnesota, the average soybean pod count was 1,107.6, down 1.0% from last year's Tour.

I would like to thank all of the scouts who put in many hours pulling corn and soybean samples across the seven Tour states. You've heard me say it before, but it deserves repeating... we can't do what we do on Tour without your tireless and dedicated work. Your dedication and drive is unbelievable. Thank you for all of your hard work. I hope to see you back again next year during the third week of August for the 2017 Crop Tour.

Eastern Tour Consultant Mark Bernard:

From the Rows with Mark Bernard

The final day of the 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour had us heading out to the north and east of Iowa City. The crew today included Carlos Poblete from Chile working for Continental Grain in New York City, Juliano Silva from Brazil working for COFCO in Sao Paulo Brazil, along with Paul Sheriff, longtime Tour participant and farmer from Illinois. It never ceases to amaze me how such a unique and brilliant bunch of people becomes melded together into a unit that goes out and gets the job done. We had a great day of sampling and the day went by very quickly. We weren’t the first group in from the field but at least we weren’t the last. While sampling fields is work, we still manage to have some fun in the process.

Our route was a partial route today and sampled in the counties of Linn, Jones, Delaware and Dubuque. The corn yield average on our route today was 192 bu. per acre with a high of 215 in Delaware Co. and a low of 160 in Jones Co. The sample area in that corn field had the misfortune of being one of the raccoon’s favorites back when it was still in the milk stage. In the soybeans our high pod count was 1,552 pods in the 3’x3’ from Linn Co. and the low was 1,088 in Delaware Co. The average pod count on our route today in the 3’x3’ was right at 1,300.

Insect pressure was all but nonexistent as compared to most years SDS was all too common in the fields we sampled as well as many we drove by on the route. Like the route I was on last year farther to the west, as we moved north the amount of SDS noted lessened and the impact on yield is likely to be less there. One of the problems however is the rinse cycle the weather pattern seems to be stuck on. The longer it continues its antics, the more problem we will likely have from SDS.

All in all, the corn crop we saw today was impressive, yet not perhaps on a par with what we sampled last year on our route. Here again we have a weather related fly in the ointment. Stalk integrity especially on hybrids with high ear placement should be monitored carefully. The stalk quality today is as good as it will get and will only go downhill from here on out.

Would like to thank our sponsors for sponsoring this year’s Crop Tour and to Pro Farmer for asking me to serve as Tour Consultant again this year. It’s work but it’s also a lot of fun and a wonderful way to see the U.S. corn and soybean crop as well as getting acquainted with some of the greatest people from all over the world you’ll ever want to meet. Would highly recommend it to anyone interested.

Follow #pftour16 Leaders Chip Flory and Brian Grete, as well as Consultants Mark Bernard and Emily Carolan on Twitter. Follow Julianne Johnston for official Tour results.

Additional Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour information is available on



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