Eastern Tour – Day 1
The 2019 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour kicked off in Dublin, Ohio, (a suburb of Columbus), with scouts sampling fields along 12 designated routes to Noblesville, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis).
My route took me northwest out of Dublin through crop districts 4 and 1 in west-central and northwest Ohio. There were two stark realities along my route – the heavy number of prevent-plant acres and the extreme immaturity of crops – both products of the extremely rough spring and early summer weather conditions. While our sampling doesn’t include prevent-plant acres (there’s no reason to account for them as they won’t factor into the production formula), it was impossible to not take notice of all the acres that didn’t get planted this year.
The immaturity of the crop will factor into the production equation. It’s just really difficult to say how much at this stage. All we can do is sample crops using the same methodology and formulas we have for the previous 26 years. That gives us something to compare with.
Corn yields were very inconsistent along my route, ranging from 66 bu. per acre to 214.4 bu. per acre. The average yield on my route was 145.3 bu. per acre. When the results from all 12 routes were tabulated, the Ohio corn yield came in at 154.35 bu. per acre, down 14.0% from last year’s Tour. USDA’s Aug. 1 corn yield for Ohio was 160 bu. per acre, down 14.4% from last year. So… the percent change we found on Crop Tour was comparable to the percent change USDA indicated with its August estimate. The question is how much of the yield potential we measured this year, is left by the time the crop is harvested. It’s going to take multiple extra weeks on the growing season for the corn crop to realize its remaining potential. It’s also going to take some late-season rains. And it’s probably going to take some luck.
Soybean pod counts in a 3’x3’ square were also highly variable along my route, ranging from 43.2 to 1,477. The average pod count on my route was 970. That was better than the all-sample average of 764.01 for Ohio, which was down an eye-popping 38.8%. USDA’s August yield estimate for Ohio was 48 bu. per acre, down 17.2% from last year. Because we don’t calculate a yield, the comparisons aren’t 100%. But our numbers suggest USDA was high with its August yield estimate for the state. Like with corn, the Ohio soybean crop is going to need extra weeks and water to fully finish. There were numerous fields that were still blooming, so the good news is, an extended growing season and fall rains would allow the soybean crop to expand from what we measured – but it would take both for that to happen.
As my route moved into east-central Indiana, corn yields remained highly variable. In seven samples through crop districts 3, 6 and 5 in northeast, east-central and central Indiana ranged from 18.2 bu. to 182.8 bu. per acre, with an average of 130 bu. per acre. We have two real clunkers – 18.2 bu. per acre in Jay County and 75 bu. per acre in Madison County. Crop immaturity remained well behind normal.
Our soybean pod count in a 3’x3’ square was also highly variable, ranging from 289 to 1341.6, with an average of 796. Soybean pod counts along my route were even lower than we found in western Ohio.
Final Day 1 observations
We came into Crop Tour knowing crop maturity was well behind normal. Even with that in mind, it was startling to see just have far behind the crop is – in virtually every field. For reference, the most mature corn my route sampled today would have been the least mature corn we would sample in a normal year. Other scouts concurred.
The soybean crop is extremely short. A short crop doesn’t guarantee they are loaded with pods, though it lessens the odds of that happening. There were some soybean fields that were fairly heavily podded. But most had disappointing pod counts. As I mentioned above, many of the fields were still flowering, which opens the possibility of the crop adding some pods late. But for pods to develop and fill, conditions need to be near-ideal and the growing season must be extended. Most of the soybean fields scouts sampled on Day 1 looked like double-crop soybeans, because they were planted so late. And based on our pod counts, that’s how many of them may end up yielding.