Eastern Tour – Day 3
My route took me west out of Bloomington and then north through crop districts 4, 3 and 1 in central and west-central Illinois. Crop conditions and crop maturity were better than what we saw the two previous days. But yields and pod counts were not normal, especially the pod counts.
Pod counts in a 3’x3’ square averaged 1154.4 along my route, with a range from 723.2 to 1497.6. The beans we sampled had a little more vegetative growth than the two previous days, but were still far less than normal. The average of all routes across Illinois was 997.7 pods in a 3’x3’ square, down 24.9% from last year.
Corn yields along my route averaged 175.6 bu. per acre, with a range of 116 bu. to 245.9 bu. per acre. We sampled multiple fields that were starting to dent. In fact, I found more of those samples today than I did the two previous days combined.
Still, overall crop maturity was well behind normal and one of the samples had just blistered. The average of all samples across Illinois came in at 171.2 bu. per acre, down 11.1% from what we found last year.
Final Day 3 observations
Illinois’ corn and soybean crops are going to be sub-par this year. There’s little doubt about that. It’s a matter of how much below normal the crops will turn out. Illinois doesn’t have the widespread maturity issues Indiana and Ohio have, but there are definitely pockets that are at risk of even a normal end to the growing season.
While there’s still a lot to be determined on the Illinois corn crop, soybeans are the crop that’s most at risk. Soybean pod counts were not only severely below last year, they were 22.8% below the three-year average. That’s a lot of soybean “factory” that’s missing this year.
Like Indiana and Ohio, a good portion of the Illinois soybean crop is likely going to perform much like double-crop soybeans. That may not be as bad as it sounds if there are timely late-season rains and the crop gets some extra weeks on the end of the growing season. But a normal or early freeze would be devastating.
It’s hard to fathom that none of the three eastern Corn Belt states we sample from on Crop Tour averaged more than 1,000 pods per 3’x3’ square. Last year, each of the seven Crop Tour states averaged more than 1,000 pods in a 3’x3’ square. So far, only Nebraska has topped that level from our samples this year, with Iowa and Minnesota yet to be finalized.
Crop maturity, or lack thereof may have been the story coming into Crop Tour, but the extremely low soybean pod counts are the headliner after sampling for three days in the eastern Corn Belt.