On Tuesday we traveled across the east central, northeast and north central crop districts, from Clinton, Iowa in the east to Algona in north central Iowa. Crop prospects in this region are surprisingly poor. The best fields were fair to average with the majority in the poor to very poor categories. With the exception of a few pockets that received a timely rain, corn yields will be down sharply. As we found in western Illinois, early stress limited ear size and subsequent heat and dryness negatively impacted pollination and grain fill. It was surprising to see how poorly some of the better looking fields yield checked. The crop in these areas has pollinated and is in the milk to dent stage so rain now will help preserve yield potential, but will not bring it back. Corn following corn is particularly hard-hit. The average of the field stops in Iowa was 117 bpa. This compares to our estimates collected a year ago at 176 bpa.
From Iowa we also surveyed south central and southwestern Minnesota. There are clearly areas that suffering, but this area is closer to normal than other regions we have seen so far. Developmentally, corn is more mature than normal. While this removes some of the uncertainty regarding final yield, dryness this year is a concern. We rated yield potential for these districts at 147 bpa, down about 20 bushels from last year.
Our route through eastern and northern Iowa found soybean potential that was much worse than our already below average expectations. There are three factors that are hurting prospects. Blossoms are aborting and not forming pods. We found one or maybe two pods at a node rather than multiple ones in fields that were at that development stage. Second, it is apparent that the number of seeds per pod will be less than normal, similar in the sense that the corn ears are smaller than normal. And third, we expect that the size of the seeds will be smaller than normal unless there are timely rains during filling. We graded bean yield potential in northern and eastern Iowa in the upper 30 to low 40 bushel per acre range. Many fields are at the precipice of further physiological damage that will extend the downside yield risks. Minnesota fields exhibited relatively less stress, but are inherently lower yielding. We graded the majority with potential in the mid to upper 30s, down from the low 40s that are typical.
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