AUSTIN, Minn. - The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour came to an end last week with a capacity crowd attending a conference in Austin, Minn., on Aug. 26. This was the 11th year of the crop tour.
Sitting elbow to elbow were farmers, seed dealers, fertilizer representatives, crop insurance agents, commodity brokers and anyone who had an interest in the this year's corn and soybean numbers.
One group started in Ohio and another in South Dakota, making their way to the final stop in southern Minnesota.
"This is not a windshield tour," said Pro Farmer editor Chip Flory, who was in charge of the western end of the crop tour.
One hundred people comprised the two groups, and samples were taken every 15-20 miles.
In a year of high prices and strong demand that has been troubled with wet weather at the beginning of the season and dry weather at the finish, the question was, "Is supply going to be able to satisfy demand?"
Crop tour participants reported their findings from the beginning with frequent interviews to media outlets along the way and a public meeting each night where it stopped.
By Aug. 26, the crop tour was reporting reduced yields from last year.
When the final numbers were released, the corn crop was predicted to be 12.484 billion bushels with an average yield of 147.9 bushels per acre, and the soybean crop was predicted to be 3.083 billion bushels with an average yield of 41.8 bushels per acre.
At the Austin meeting, the scouts reported a wide range of variability in what they saw at all locations.
Generally, everyone had planted in less-than-favorable conditions with a wet spring that resulted in lower ear counts on corn. Flory reported corn ear count in Nebraska was down by 2 to 3 percent.
The wet conditions at planting time were most troublesome in the eastern Corn Belt. Yield reductions in Ohio and Indiana were described as "pretty significant."
Besides lower ear counts, the wet conditions created emergence problems, reduced ear length and more skips in the row.
Crop conditions improved as the eastern leg crossed from Illinois to Iowa with diseases seen in corn in western Illinois and eastern Iowa.
Flory described southwest Iowa as a "disaster" with corn yield down 18 percent from last year. West central and northwest Iowa yields were down 3 percent from the previous year. The tour predicted Iowa's corn yield to be 164 bushels per acre.
Soybean pod counts
Due to the timing of the crop tour, soybean numbers were expressed by pod count rather than bushels because pods are now filling. The tour reported very good pod counts indicating the potential for a good yield if rains can happen soon.
Soybean fields were reported in good condition being disease-free but badly in need of rain. The tour predicted a yield in Iowa of 53 bushels per acre with a record yield possible if one more much-needed rain arrives in time.
You can contact Clayton Rye by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.