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MDA Crop Tour comes to a close

The 2013 MDA Weather Services Crop Tour started off in central Indiana making their way into Illinois on the first day. Towards central Indiana the corn was young and partially pollinating in multiple counties, which gave to unimpressive yield estimates at around 149 and 163 bu/ac. However, given the age of the crop, the estimates are likely too low, as the ears are still likely to get bigger in the coming weeks. Even though estimates are low, they are a huge improvement from last year.

As the tour moved northwest toward Illinois, yields started to increase ranging from a low of 187 bu/ac in Champaign County to a high of 249 bu/ac in Ford County. Corn in the area was around nine feet tall and did not appear to be under any stress. The average yield estimates for Illinois was 215 bu/ac compared to Indiana at around 162 bu/ac. It was definitely a significant yield increase over last year of 109 bu/ac for Illinois and 75 bu/ac for Indiana. According to MDA Weather Services tour leader and Sr. Ag Meteorologist, Kyle Tapley, soybeans in Indiana were in excellent condition, with a few five bean pods found, something that those on tour had never seen before. Beans in Illinois looked good across the state, but in some counties they were just beginning to set a few pods.

The tour moved to Western Illinois where the average yield was much better than expected with 208 bu/ac compared to an average of 136 bu/ac last year in the same counties. The high of the day was in Bureau County around 220 bu/ac and a low of 192 bu/ac in Stark County. Beans were less consistent during the second part of the day, with plants not even starting to set pods. Despite areas lacking in rainfall, soil moisture increased as they moved into the northwest part of the tour.

On the third day, the tour traveled to Eastern Iowa. Johnson and Linn counties had the highest yields of the day, coming in at around 231 and 235 bu/ac. The crops in this area were very young, but soil moisture seemed to be sufficient. The soybeans in this area were in good health and just beginning to set pods. As the tour moved west into Benton County, soil moisture was slightly less and the yield estimate dropped to about 184 bu/ac. The beans were setting pods, but were not in as great of shape as the first two stops. The lowest yield of that day was in Tama County with an estimated 131 bu/ac. The area was clearly suffering from drought stress as the beans looked wilted and had sandier soils than most of the stops. The average yield for the day was about 24% higher at around 197 bu/ac compared to last year of 159 bu/ac in the same counties. At the end of the day according to Tapley, there was more variability of the crop in Iowa than Illinois, but nothing compared to last year. The soybean crop across Iowa was far too young to say either way; it will need a lot of time to reach full potential.

The first stop out of Fort Dodge was Webster County. According to Tapley, the corn had just finished pollinating and had very high plant pollination. Despite fairly dry soils, the yield estimate was at 230 bu/ac. The soil moisture needed to be improved for the crop to reach its full potential. Yield estimates in Sac County were very good at around 227 bu/ac with 20 inch row corn fields. The soybeans could use some rain, but they were in pretty good shape. Moving north to Buena Vista and Clay counties, yield estimates remained high at 230 and 206 bu/ac despite low soil moisture.  As the tour moved further north into Dickinson County, soil moisture increased, where corn yield estimated at 198 bu/ac. It wasn’t until Minnesota in Jackson County that the tour found their best estimated yield of the tour with 255 bu/ac.  Soil moisture increased further as the tour moved north in Cottonwood, Redwood, and Lyon counties with yields ranging from 203 to 216 bu/ac. The soybeans were more advanced than those in Iowa and appeared in good health. The lowest yield, although still impressive, was in Lincoln County at around 192 bu/ac.

As the tour moved west into South Dakota yields were dropping, but soybeans still seemed to be in good health. In Brookings County yield estimates dropped to around 171 bu/ac, and were raised in Moody County at 219 bu/ac. Soil moisture dropped slightly, but still remained adequate. According to Tapley, corn yields continued to exceed expectations and remained adequate. The average corn yield estimates for Iowa was 201 bu/ac compared to last year of 154 bu/ac, and an increase of 31% in Minnesota with an average yield of 214 bu/ac.

“Corn crop in most areas is still young, so there is potential for yield loss in the upcoming weeks. However, the cool forecast limits this potential for yield loss and if the drier portions of west central Iowa receive rains in the coming week or two, corn yields could end up higher than many are expecting,” says Tapley. The tour ends its last day finishing up in Omaha, Nebraska.

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