The final leg of the western route of the crop tour covered central and southeastern Iowa.
Some of the issues with late planting were evident in the western portion of the central crop district which is west of Ames. We found some very late corn similar to what we saw in north central Iowa. However, maturity and stands improved as we traveled further east. Our stalk counts were exceptionally high.
Each of our field stops had stalk counts over 30,000 per acre. High populations continued into the southeastern district. This is consistent with our observations for the entire western Corn Belt route. Our stalk/ear counts are the highest we have recorded for Iowa. The high population tend to support average or above yield potential. In some cases, though we did find some offset in smaller ear size.
While it’s too early to judge ear length, we can make ear row counts which provide a sense of ear size. It was clear in these cases that ear size would be limiting factor. In our judgment, the central and southeast crop districts have average to above average yield potential, possibly near the highs of recent years prior to the 2012 drought.
Soil moisture levels were better than western Iowa, but the crop will need additional moisture to fill. Overall, it appears that the eastern half of Iowa, with the exception of the northeast district, could provide some offset to the late planting problems in other parts of the state.
Soybean potential graded well as we traveled central Iowa from Ames southeastward toward Grinnell before crossing into southeast Iowa.
We were concerned Wednesday night as we pulled into the central district that we would find a continuation of the poorer crop conditions from north central Iowa rather than the better rated beans of western Iowa. But for the most part, the poorer fields were few and instead we found some soybeans that may have the best prospects for the state, at least along our routes in Iowa, if the August weather is normal.
Beans were filling rows and showing solid stands. And instead of what were at best miniscule pods forming in other parts of the state, or mostly no pods at all, we began to find smaller pods and better growth for the plants. The central Iowa fields didn’t grade quite as well as what we found in 2010 or 2011, but they do appear on average to have the potential toward 50 bu/a or better.
Soys in southeast Iowa were a step down from those in central Iowa, but still not too bad. In fact in our grading scale, our route was among the best through the years in this region.
There were areas of southeast Iowa with more apparent need for rains than in central Iowa, and there was an increased frequency of later planted fields.