Day 2 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour finished up Nebraska scouting with positive yield results.
Weather was much improved on second day of the 2018 tour after showers keep fields muddy yesterday. We started with sunny skies, light winds from the northwest and a pleasant low 70-degree temperatures by late morning.
Over the past two days we collected 301 corn and 296 soybean samples—hats off to our crop scouts from across the nation and four foreign countries.
My read on the Nebraska corn and soybean crops is that USDA did a good job identifying improving yields across the state from a year earlier. Irrigated corn yields are strong and even much of the dryland corn is coming in above a year ago, outside of the southeast where dry weather has taken a toll on yield potential. Hail and wind has hurt fields across the state but the good outweighs much of the problems in the big picture.
Our samples show an average corn yield of 179.2 bushels an acre, up 8.3% from a year ago. USDA said yields would rise 8.3% to 196 bu. The difference is that we measure a third LESS of the irrigated fields in the state. About 60% of the corn is grown under irrigation and only 43% of the corn samples were from irrigated fields. Historically, the tour is about 15 bu/acre less than USDA. So, the percentage changes are the same and match up well.
One difference to keep in mind is that last year’s crop continues to grow by the final USDA number. Our number is showing a smaller gain. I asked the audience at the meeting tonight in Nebraska City if they expected heavier kernels than a year ago when there was a long grain fill period. About 5% said yes and a third said now and the rest didn’t answer. That is an indication that they don’t expect the crop to get bigger and may get smaller because of the kernel/ear weighs.
Remember, USDA said corn in dent stage of development rose to 38% as of this week, up from 25% on average the past five years. Fields I measured were approaching 60% or more in dent. The crop is rapidly heading for maturity, unlike a year ago when it had a long time to add sugars and starch and build big kernels. A fast maturing crop is never good for adding yields at the end of the season.
There is no shortage of evidence the crop will be larger. The ear population is up 1.8% from a year ago, the length of grain on each ear measured average 4.1% more and the number of kernels around each ear gain 1.9%. Both grain length and kernel rows suggest the heat at pollination had little impact. The factory is in place for big yields.
The soybean story is also about improving production despite some weather adversity. In fact, the heat in June pushed soybeans hard and fast through early development to the point where plants were already putting on pods in early July. There are few blooms to build any more yield but there is plenty of moisture to fill pods with large beans.
We measured almost 1,300 pods on average in a 3-foot by 3-foot area. That’s up 14.9% from last year’s tour. Evidently, USDA field surveys also found the same story as government said earlier this month yields in Nebraska would rise 6.1% to a record 61 bushels.
On to Spencer, Iowa on Wednesday night as we measure the western third of Iowa. It should be an interesting day of sampling after all the heavy rains earlier this year in northwest and dryness in the South. CIAO