On Monday’s route we traveled from St. Louis east into Illinois and then north through the western crop districts of Illinois. This area has been hard-hit by summer heat and dryness. Yields were highly variable along the route, but generally improved moving from the west south west district through west central and finally to the northwest. Even so, yield variability was high within the districts, depending timely rain. Our field stops revealed yields ranging from as low as 70 bushels to as high at 200. The average of the field stops was 132 bpa versus 174 bpa a year ago, a 24 percent decline. With a few exceptions ear counts were good, but ear size and fill are limiting factors. Early season stress limited ear size and extreme heat and dryness this summer hurt pollination and grain fill. Soil moisture was short at every stop along the route so final yields are still dependent on moisture arriving soon.
Soybean fields along our route through western Illinois were suffering from the drought. We estimated the size of the beans at 6 inches to 12 inches below normal for the date. Soils were extremely dry and the leaves were starting to roll over as an expression of the severity of the drought. We graded yield potential in western Illinois generally about 40 bushels per acre compared with our observations toward 48 bu/a along the same route in 2011. Under normal conditions we would expect yield to reach 50 bu/a or more. There were a very few fields under irrigation that may grade to 50 or higher, but the majority are dryland and spec out much less. The crop is still subject to more weather impact, and could lose another 10% to 20% absent rain soon.
Follow Doane Advisory Services on Twitter to receive more updates from the road.