DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- The signs that harvest is close go beyond the calendar date. I can smell it as I walk along the fencerows and hear it in the rustle of drying corn leaves. The other big clue is my suitcase is packed for the 2014 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.
I feel as though I've already been on a scouting marathon the past few weeks. A series of field days and farm visits have had me in and out of corn and soybean fields across a number of states.
Yes, I've seen a few agronomic challenges. It's easy to see what fields have and have not been tiled. I spotted Goss's Wilt early in Nebraska. Portions of western Iowa were pummeled by hail and some farmers have a ragged mess because they no-tilled back into partial stands in an effort to get a crop back in the field. There was some green snap. We know there are prevented planting acres in Minnesota.
However, on average, I expect this to be one of the least-challenged crops I've seen in the three years I've attended the tour. Most of the Midwest crop appears to have enjoyed an ideal growing season, and my guess is our calculators will come up with some big numbers.
Emerson Nafizger asked growers attending the University of Illinois' agronomy day yesterday for a show of hands as to expected yields. Farmers were shy about answering, but 180- to 200-bushel corn and 55-bushel or better soybeans seemed to win the day.
"I apologize for us only talking about soybeans today, but corn doesn't have any problems to talk about," said Nafizger. He noted the cool temperatures, but indicated that the crop is not really behind in development. "The corn crop just has very few barriers in front of it now. We have enough water stored in the soil to finish it out," he said.
It's been 10 years since Illinois set a record corn crop at 180 bushels per acre. "So although we think yields are trending up, it still seems to take the right weather to make these things happen," he noted.
Illinois saw its top soybean year in 2010 at 51.5 bushel per acre. "If I had to guess in this state, I'd have to give corn a little edge in terms of yield bumps compared to soybean this year," Nafizger said. "But we clearly have a good soybean crop going here as well."
He also noted that corn and soybean yields tend to move together. "Take the soybean yield times 3.1 to 3.2 and you'll generally get the corn yield," he said.
I'm surveying the western leg of the tour, beginning in Sioux Falls, S.D., heading through Nebraska and parts of Iowa and Minnesota. Katie Micik on our DTN staff will report on conditions in Ohio, Illinois and the eastern parts of Iowa and Minnesota.
I expect to see adult rootworm beetles. I expect to see a few soybean aphids. I'll be looking for leaf diseases in corn and SDS in soybeans. Weeds will be top of mind too. Palmer amaranth continues to gain a foothold in the middle section of this country. Waterhemp and marestail are still problems.
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