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A wide range of yield potential in Iowa

By Staff | Aug 27, 2015

CHIP FLORY, center, leader of the western Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, talks to host farmer Jeff Sanger, right, on Aug. 19 during a live radio broadcast in rural Carroll. Looking on is Pete Meyer, director of ag research for LIRA Energy Research.



CARROLL – Finding a wide range of potential corn yields – 96 to 233 bushels per acre – and variable maturity levels through southwest and western Iowa, day three of the Pro Farmer Western Midwest Crop Tour ended in Spencer on Aug. 19.

Samples from soybean fields showed pod counts in 3-by-3-foot squares ranging from 712 to 1,740 in the southwest and from 651 to 1,872 in western Iowa.

At the end of the tour, surveys indicate Iowa corn would average 181 bpa and soybeans at 54 bpa.

western Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, talks to Carroll County-area farmers Aug. 19 during the third day of the 2015 Pro Farmer Tour.

Tour leaders said the 2015 surveys, especially those in the eastern Corn Belt states, plus where futures markets are trading, indicate that the USDA’s Aug. 12 estimated corn and soybean yields are incorrect.


Earlier in the day, tour crop scouts were at the Jeff Sanger farm in rural Carroll.

There, Chip Flory, leader of the western leg of the tour, said corn field samples from the counties of Fremont, Montgomery, Cass and Adair showed variable yields from 96 to 256 bpa, an average of 160 bpa.

Meanwhile, another team moving through the western Iowa counties of Harrison, Monona, Woodbury and Plymouth reported it found potential yields from 168 to 233 bpa, averaging 189 bpa.

Flory said the maturity levels in the southwestern counties were as variable as their yields.

“Maturity ranged from late-milk to early-dent,” Flory told Carroll County farmers, “so it’s obvious the planting date was variable.

“Corn planted early and got a shot of nitrogen looks good and is starting to dent.”

However, he described other fields with poor color that apparently didn’t get a side-dressing of fertilizer during mid-season.

When asked if wet weather in June in that region prevented fertilizing, Flory said that could be a factor.”

However, he said, it could also be that during the May and June futures rally, farmers may have gambled by not spraying the extra fertilizer, reducing overall input costs, thinking the higher futures would make up for lower yields.

But futures dropped following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Aug. 12 supply and demand report, estimating there was more corn in storage and a bigger harvest coming than marketers expected.

Flory reported that plant populations were also apparently suffering.

He said conversations with one Adair County farmer indicated 34,000 seeds per acre were planted, but the test samples indicated 27,000 plants.


Flory reported his southwestern Iowa route measured an average of 1,150 pods per 3-by-3-foot square plots, which could bring the yield numbers to less than 50 bpa.

Likewise the average pod count in the western counties were almost the same at 1,140.

Flory said the southwestern bean fields were showing signs for better maturity in earlier-planted fields.

He said disease and insect pressure appears to have been light so far.

That week’s rains would help to provide pod filling, but the region also needed warmer and sunnier conditions for beans to finish strong.

The western counties’ soybeans were showing an average crop.

“We have a lot of plants, but not a lot of pods,” reported that team’s leader Terry Johnston.

He said plant health looked good, with light disease and insect pressure.

“The bean pods that are there,” Johnston said, “are filling nicely and maturity is not a problem.”

Skewed WASDE

Flory and Meyer said they doubted the USDA’s Aug. 12 World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates, raising the national average corn production forecasted at 13.7 billion bushels, up 156 million bushels from the July projection, with the season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast at 168.8 bushels per acre, 2 bushels higher than July’s estimate.

Likewise, USDA raised U.S. soybean production is projected at 3.916 billion bushels, up 31 million bushels from July. The national average yield was raised from July’s 46 bpa to Aug. 12’s 46.9 bpa.

Flory said he doubted USDA’s numbers after seeing the state of row crops in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois in the previous two days.

With about 3 million acres in prevented planting in both commodity grains. Field sampling indicated Indiana’s potential yield at 142.94 bpa, a 22.7 percent drop from 2014 tour estimates.

Flory said he thought Indiana’s yield may slide even further down before the season ends.

Meyer said there was one field that measured a zero yield.

“And you know there won’t be just one,” he said. “There will be others.”

And the futures markets don’t seem to believe the USDA’s numbers either, Meyer said.

Corn markets recovered from the Aug. 12 dip to climb up and remain in the $3.70 to $3.80 range.

“So the market doesn’t believe the USDA’s 168 bpa,” Meyer said. The market “thinks it’ll be down to 162 or 164.”

Flory added that ear weights are an important yield indicator.

“Now if you take the average ear weights of the last five years,” he said, “that will take 450 mb off the 2015 harvest.

“And if you kick out 2012, that will still take 380 million bushels of the harvest.”

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