Pro Farmer tour takes U.S. corn and soybean yield down a peg

Brian Grete, editor of Pro Farmer, uses one word to sum up this week’s crop tour: hot.

But it’s not crop yield that’s sizzling, but the crop itself. Extremely hot temperatures followed the team of nearly 100 field scouts on the four-day tour of seven states collecting over 1800 corn and soybean samples, he says.

Grete headed up the eastern leg of the tour and stopped briefly on the drive home to chat with us about the tour and its findings.

The official estimates are in and the crop is smaller than earlier USDA estimates, to be sure. With corn coming in at 172 bushels per acre, that’s a 14.960 billion bushel crop, well behind the USDA estimate at 15.111  billion bushels. “We did adjust harvested acres up for corn based on FSA certified acreage data as of August, so we added 675,000 acres to corn above what was estimated in August,” Grete adds.

The national production estimate for soybeans comes in at 4.110 billion bushels, on a yield of 49.7 bushels per acre. Grete says that this number is less certain than the corn figure, and they put a 2 per cent plus or minus range on the number.

“It’s really difficult to peg the soybean crop in the third week of August. Finishing is incredibly important to soybeans, even more so than corn, because corn has done a lot of its building already at this stage where soybeans still have to fill out and that’s dependent on late season weather,” he says.

That plus or minus puts the soybean yield range from 48.7 bushels per acre to 50.7 bushels per acre.

Grete adds that the extreme heat of this week will undoubtedly put pressure on both corn and bean bushels actually making it to the bin.

“I’m from northeast Iowa, and when I left last Saturday to go on the Crop Tour, on my way out to Ohio, things looked pretty good in most cases there. You know, we’ve had an up and down year here and so there’s variability within the fields. But boy, when I came back through yesterday, five days later, there was a stark difference,” Grete says. “I couldn’t believe it. Just the heat, the extreme heat for multiple days, really kicked this crop in the teeth and ears are hanging already in the third week of August.”

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture