Scouts Seeing Mostly Good Crops

Reports from the Midwest crop tour last week indicated good corn yield potential in Nebraska, western Illinois and Indiana, with somewhat disappointing prospects in far western Iowa.

Soybean yield potential is another story as pod counts were found to be below a year ago in many areas, raising questions about yield potential. The tour does not estimate soybean yields as the crop is considered too young to allow accurate estimates.

Crop scouts on the tour’s western leg estimated on Tuesday that Nebraska corn yields would average 130.60 bu./acre based on 177 samples, up from last year’s tour estimate 121.28 bu./acre. The USDA on Aug. 12 forecast Nebraska’s average corn yield at 155 bu./acre, up 9 bushels from 2003.

"The dry land corn looked very good because of good rains, and the maturity of the crop improved the further east we went," Neal Hadley, an Iowa farmer told Reuters News Service.

Soybean pod counts taken on 3-by-3 foot squares in Nebraska averaged 1,151 pods, a slight decrease from 1,197 pods last year. Scouts found little disease or insect pressure on either corn or beans in Nebraska.

On Wednesday, crop scouts found corn and soybean yield potential in far western Iowa to be disappointing and below a year earlier.

After inspecting eight Iowa cornfields in Fremont, Mills, Pottawattamie and Harrison counties on Wednesday morning, scouts estimated an average yield of 131 bushels per acre. That was down from the tour average of 144 bushels for the same route in 2003. However, they noted that last year's yields were exceptional. The three-year average for that route is 129 bu./acre.

Scouts reported an average soybean pod count for eight bean fields surveyed in the same four counties of 1,056 pods, down from the 1,214 pods counted last year for the same area. The three-year tour average was 1,167 pods.

Some dry weather stress on soybeans was reported and scouts also told Reuters there were more signs of disease and insect damage, including some soybean aphids, compared with the mostly problem-free fields found in Nebraska.

Crop scouts on the tour’s eastern leg told Reuters that corn and soybean fields in western Illinois were in excellent condition and should produce high yields this fall.

Corn development in western Illinois was still about two weeks ahead of normal despite recent cold spells, scouts said, adding that they expected harvest to begin by the end of September in west-central Illinois.

Western Illinois soybeans also looked healthy with little evidence of disease or insect damage, the scouts said.

On Tuesday, the eastern tour group inspected fields in central and northwest Indiana and found crops there to be in good condition – better than in Ohio and eastern Indiana.

Scouts calculated a record average corn yield of 146.83 bushels per acre in Indiana based on 151 samples, up from the 2003 tour estimate of 132.11 bu./acre. USDA projects the Indiana yield at 156 bu./acre, up 10 bushels from last year.

Scouts told Reuters the corn crop generally looked healthier as the tour moved west and north in Indiana, while soybean conditions also improved. Gray leaf spot on corn was very scattered and minor, they said. The amount of damage from soy disease, notably Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), also subsided.

Soybean pod counts taken on 3-by-3 foot squares in Indiana averaged 1,396 pods, an increase from 1,289 pods last year. Indiana soybean fields could use added rainfall for proper pod filling, scouts said.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.