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Tour: Views from above in Illinois, Iowa
On day 3 of the MDA EarthSat Weather July Crop Tour, we took to both ground and air to get different views of what the crops in western Illinois and eastern Iowa look like heading into the summer homestretch.
We took off from the Muscatine, Iowa, airport and it wasn't long before we saw the extent of the drought damage in this field just west of the Mississippi River. It's easy to see the difference between the irrigated and non-irrigated corn here.
These fields, though, didn't look bad. MDA July Crop Tour leader Kyle Tapley said the Tour's crop scouts tallied the Illinois crop at 136.8 bushels/acre on average. "The variability across the western half of Illinois was much higher than anything we have seen so far on the Tour," he says.
The Crop Tour winding through the Corn Belt is a diverse group comprising crop scouts, weather experts, traders, investors and bankers, like this Tour member, an investor with Deutsche Bank.
Just because it's been dry this year doesn't mean it's been too dry for insect pests like this corn earworm found in western Illinois. Farmers say they've also seen more spider mites than usual, making it difficult to draw the line of when to treat and when to stop, with yields sharply lower than normal.
Though Mother Nature's obviously held on to the trump card all summer, another variable that's had a big influence on crop potential is soil type. This year, it's been easier to see more pronounced differences between various soil types.
The crop yield potential's as variable as anywhere in western Illinois and eastern Iowa (photos by John Walter).