DE WITT COUNTY, Ill., (Reuters) – Corn farmers in north-central Indiana could be facing smaller corn yield potential this year, after extreme weather and heavy rains delayed plantings across wide swaths of the U.S. Midwest, scouts on an annual tour said Tuesday.
Many of the soy fields surveyed in Indiana on the second day of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour were still behind their normal growing schedule, pointing to a potentially late harvest. But scouts on the eastern leg of the annual crop tour said the corn crop appeared to be improving noticeably the further west they traveled.
On Tuesday, corn yield potential averaged 166 bushels per acre (bpa) through nine stops in the Indiana counties of Benton, Cass, Howard, Jasper, Miami, Tipton and White.
That is down from last year’s crop tour average in those areas of 178.7 bpa and those counties’ three-year tour average of 173 bpa.
Weather woes have plagued this part of the Farm Belt as heavy rains early left some areas with empty gaps in both corn and soybean fields, according to scouts on the annual tour.
Weaker than expected yield prospects from Ohio and South Dakota on the first day of the tour pushed Chicago Board of Trade soybean prices up early on Tuesday.
The farm community and commodity traders are closely watching the four-day crop tour after corn futures prices plunged on Aug. 12 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted U.S. yields and production would also be larger than traders expected.
The tour does not estimate soybean yield potential, but instead calculated the number of soy pods in a 3-foot-by-3-foot square. In those Indiana counties, soybeans averaged 794 pods, down from 1,341.89 pods last year and the three-year average of 1,214.04 pods.
A second leg that scouted three counties in Illinois – Edgar, Douglas and Piatt counties – with four stops projected an average corn yield of 165.55 bpa. That is down from last year’s 188.70 bpa and down from the three-year tour average of 184.13 bpa.
“Most of the corn we saw is fully mature,” said Jeff Magyar, 56, an Ohio farmer and a crop scout. “They’re going to have a crop – but I expected to see near 200 bushel corn on our route in Illinois.”
Soybeans in this same area averaged 1,092.42 pods – below last year’s 1,407.43 pods and the three year average of 1337.98 pods for the same counties.
The findings this year have been highly variable – more than normal, said scouts. For instance, in north-eastern Indiana late Monday, a group that scouted Allen, Adams, Blackford, Grant and Wells counties in Indiana found corn yield potential of 187.84 bpa – above both last year’s and the three-year averages for those counties. Scouts also found an average of 874.27 soybean pods, which were below both last year’s and the three year averages.
The eastern leg of the tour started from Columbus, Ohio, and the western leg in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The trade publication Pro Farmer, which organizes the annual tour, will release its U.S. crop production yield forecast on Friday.