Editor's note: The following observations were made by Doane crop advisors on Tuesday in Illinois.
The final leg of the tour covered the east central and central crop districts of Illinois. The counties included Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Tazewell, Mason, Logan, Sangamon, Christian and Montgomery counties. Yield checks were highly variable ranging from 42 to 190 bpa. The east central was a little better than the central district, but not much. There are small pockets of decent corn, but most of the crop is under severe stress and some fields will be 75 bushels or less. Unlike other areas of Illinois, which had low ear counts, the ear counts on this route were relatively good all things considered averaging just over 28,000 per acre, which included one 16,000 count. Most were 30,000 or higher. Like Indiana and much of Iowa, the poor ear size and grain fill is hurting yield. Also, as we have indicated in other areas of the tour, looks can be deceiving. A field that looks like it could be 120 to 140 bpa checks out at 100 bushels or less. Overall, we see this area of Illinois averaging from 100 to 120 bushels. This compares to past years when yields averaged from 150 to 175 bpa.
Tuesday we surveyed the heavy soybean production areas of eastern and central Illinois. On occasion we would drive through a stretch of fields that had the typical growth and development that characterizes most years. From the other telltale signs such roadside ditches and lawns that were greening, it was clear that the local crop was benefiting from recent and clearly timely rains. These fields were easily a minority. Instead, we saw the gamut of problems apparent every day of the trip. The drought has stunted growth and development. Beans are shorter than normal and not filling the rows. Pod setting is early, but there is not the vigor that we typically see in late July. There were usually only one or two pods at a node. Pods often show only two beans forming. Blossoms were aborting. Plants were shedding lower leaves. Upper leaves were wilting. Some leaves were turning color under the heat. Without any appreciable improvement in moisture, the soybeans produced are at risk of being small sized. Yield potential pulled itself up today along our route to the low 40s, but that is no sure outcome if the drought persists.
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