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Pro Farmer reports:

From the Rows - Chip Flory - Western Tour Day 3

Hey everybody! I've had a great night in Spencer, Iowa! The crowd was huge at the Clay Co. Fair Grounds and everybody enjoyed a crazy-good feed at the event center and the folks from DuPont Pioneer deserve a big-time thank-you for bringing a big crowd in for the third night of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

I'll admit, it's getting late in the tour and I'm ready to shorten-up my comments about what we're seeing on the Tour. Fortunately, what we saw on today's trek through western Iowa doesn't take a lot of words to sum up.

It's good.

Disease pressure is light and so is the pressure from the bugs in both the corn and soybean crops in western Iowa. And because we had mud on our boots for most of the day on the route that we ran, I can't say that moisture is a problem. That is not to say the crop in western Iowa was never stressed after a 30-day rain-free stretch during the important kernel-fill period, but it appears that temps were cool enough to allow the corn crop to build a yield and hold on to it long enough. The trick for the corn crop we saw today will be for it to stand long enough for the combine to show up! The corn crop in western Iowa remains vulnerable to a late-summer wind storm that could leave several bushels on the ground instead of in the hopper.

The average yield in crop district 7 (SW) was 180.9, up 11.5% from last year's Tour. It was good in the SW corner of Iowa, even in the rolling hills where scouts could "road scout" and see deep into fields.

In district 4 (WC) the average yield was 180, up about 5.5% from last year and scouts reported very little disease and instect pressure on the corn crop. Consistant yield samples were pulled throughout the whole district. And not only that, scouts consistently commented on how green the corn crop, the bean crop and the road ditches were in west central Iowa. That may seem like a "trivial" observation, but when the road ditches are green in western Iowa in the third week of August, odds are the corn and soybean crops are going to be in good condition.

District 1 (NW) the average yield was 177.5, up 1% from last year. Northwest Iowa is a consistent producer and proved it again this year even when some counties are "blowing out the top" on yield potential on corn.

I realize that this is getting redundant, but thats what the western Iowa corn crop looks like. It's good. Disease pressure is light, bug pressure is light and it got a shot of moisture today that is going to help it finish and fill out kernels.

On soybeans, district 7(SW) the average 3'x3' pod count was 1166, up 4.8% from last year; IA4 (WC) was 1225, up 20%; IA1(NW) was up 27% at 1091. The most imporant thing was when we sampled bean fields we got mud on our boots. This late shot of moisture is going to help the bean crop realize the potential we measured in western Iowa today. The beans will need to work to finish but all in all, is a good bean crop.

After an impressive day of scouting we can see the motivation in the scouts to bring the most accurate picture possible is giving us a more indepth look at this year's corn and soybean crops. Every year I am more impressed by the "tanasity" scouts bring to the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

Tomorrow we are traveling from Spencer to Rochester, MN, to meet up with the Eastern leg. So far, I've seen no let down on the Western scouts- they are out to kick butt and take names on the 2014 Tour! I can't wait to get the final sample of the 2014 Tour and to discover just how big the 2014 corn crop really is.

I'll talk to you tomorrow night after we wrap up #pftour14. It's been one to remember...

From the Rows - Jason Franck - Western Tour Day 3

Wonderful, we finally made it to Iowa!! Since I'm from IA, I was very curious to see how the home state was going to stack up. I felt heading out this morning we could start to see what maybe some of the hype has been all about regarding this huge crop.

We traveled from Nebraska City, up 29 continuing to the north side of Omaha. We had the task of covering 13 counties today and felt it would give us a great perspective of what Iowa had to offer. I was surprised to see how mediocre our yields were in our corn samples. Similar to the Nebraska City area, I noticed that the crop in southern IA was in that late dough, early dent stage.

Additionally, I was happy to see that the ear counts jumped in volume from what we dealt with in Nebraska. But as the day progressed, we struggled to find that break-out corn yield. Comparing to Tuesday, I had been through more than 25 samples and still couldn't find a yield check over 200 bu/acre. I ended up being in the minority with this because the numbers from the day came in very strong. As we spoke about the trip on day one, the crop I saw in the northern half of our route will also need six weeks, if not more, to make the kind of crop we are all looking for.

Nothing seemed to change much for me with how I have judged the soybean crop this year. I started the tour with pod counts a little disappointing, but yet had consistency with them, and today was much more of the same. I would say it seems as if the clusters that form around the nodes were down in numbers but the positive was the maturity in Iowa was the farthest along that I have seen this tour.

Where we would often like to see 6-9 beans in a cluster to give us adequate yields, I have been noticing many with just 3-4 per node. Additionally, I was excited to see that the level of water hemp was decreasing as we crossed the border and moved north through Iowa. Feeding from insects like green clover worm, grass hoppers, and green stink bugs are doing their best to reduce yields, but in reality even their numbers are much lower than we have seen in the past.

Well, tomorrow could tell us a lot. Will what we see in Minnesota be promising enough to keep up with what we have been observing the last few days....time will tell??

From the Rows -- Brian Grete -- Eastern Tour Day 3

The third day of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour took my route west and north out of Bloomington through crop districts 4, 2 and 1 in Illinois. We sampled fields in the counties of McLean, Woodford, Marshall, LaSalle, Bureau and Henry. Corn yield calculations from our samples ranged from 181.8 bu. per acre to 213.1 bushels. The average yield on my route through Illinois today was 198.9 bu. per acre.

When the samples from all 12 eastern Tour routes were tabulated, the Illinois corn yield came in at 196.96 bu. per acre, up 15.5% from year-ago and 31.9% above the 3-year Tour average. Illinois definitely has a very strong corn crop this year. In fact, it's the best corn crop I've ever seen for a state on Tour. But I don't think it's big enough to live up to the very lofty expectations that have been set. And why should it be? After all, some of the wild yield "estimates" that have been floated around were based on secondary ears pumping up yields. Well... when you get out in fields, count ears and pull back silks like we've done this week, there aren't a lot of secondary ears left that will make grain -- not enough to make a difference in yields. The "how big" on Illinois corn yields will be determined by test weight.

As we moved into eastern Iowa, conditions changed dramatically along my route. On five samples in the Iowa counties of Scott, Cedar and Johnson, our average yield was 167 bu. per acre. What stood out the most was the variability -- a range from 115 bu. to 204.5 bu. per acre. The other notable factor was very dry soils. The eastern Iowa corn crop my route saw was obviously stressed from a lack of rains in July and the first three weeks of August.

For soybeans, the average pod count in a 3'x3' square on my route through Illinois today came in at 1,178.4, with a low of 730.8 and a high of 1,560. The fields we sampled basically looked the same from the road, but the pod counts were highly variable. That's why we get out and take actual samples instead of doing a "windshield" tour.

The soybean pod count in a 3'x3' square for all Tour samples in Illinois came in at 1,299.17, which is up 16.4% from year-ago and 19.7% greater than the three-year Tour average.

Much like corn, the soybean crop in eastern Iowa along my route was disappointing. For the five stops we made, the average pod count for a 3'x3' square came in at 952.2. Two of the samples were strong, while three were very low. Dryness was an issue.

On the final day of this year's Tour, scouts will take sample on routes from Iowa City, Iowa, to Rochester, Minnesota.

From the Rows -- Mark Bernard -- Eastern Tour Day 3

Day three of the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour saw our group heading out of Bloomington south towards Lincoln then over to Havana and stair-stepping our way to Burlington IA. The group today included John Hohenberger of Shady Lawn Farms in Leland IL as driver, Tim Emslie of CHS from St. Paul and moi in the back seat. We also had the Ag Day crew following us as we left. What we didn't know was thunderstorms would also be following us.

The crop we measured today was like some of the IL crops of old we measured when I first started coming on the Tour many moons ago. We sampled a high corn yield sample of 239 bu./acre in McLean Co. right out of the chute and thundered along at over 200 bu./acre on six of the ten samples we pulled. The low we pulled was a 158 bu./acre in Mason Co. Our average for the route was 206 bu./acre. The crop health was in general very good with only one field showing some leaf disease issues (GLS) in Fulton Co. The sample yield estimate was still 198 bu./acre. Another field encountered in Menard Co. revealed green snap issues. The yield estimate on that one? Still 205 bu./acre. Lagging maturity was talked about at the previous night's meeting and much of the corn was half milk line, meaning it has a couple weeks to black layer. I think the fears of an early frost on this crop are greatly exaggerated. All in all the corn we sampled on this route gave the appearance of a very solid IL corn crop, one that given the heavy rain that fell on us should be just about in the bin.

The soybean crop was equally as impressive although there were some signs on our route that all was not as well as it could be. Pod counts ranged from a high of 1718 in Fulton Co. to a low of 912 on our first sample in McLean Co. Our average for today's 3 x 3 bean pod counts ended up at 1300, about the same as the statewide average we released at this evening's meeting. Any soil moisture problems were alleviated after today's thunderstorms. That said it could put this crop at greater risk for white mold although we saw none on our route today. Something we did see however was the development of SDS in half of our samples, one of which was definitely going to take a serious yield hit as a result. There were a lot of other fields we didn't sample that were in the same boat. Will it buckle the knees on this IL soybean crop? One route with a large amount of SDS noted doth not a disaster make. It may nickel and dime it in places however making it something to watch as we get closer to harvest.

Another day in the books on the Eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Once again, it's time to hit the hay for the evening. Morning always comes too early and bedtime too late.

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