Heat cuts Indiana soy prospects, corn steady
Bloomington, Illinois , August 22, 2007
Hot weather in August cut the yield potential of Indiana's soybean crop, but prospects for the state's corn were roughly the same from a year ago.
Scouts on the 2007 John Deere Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour projected the state's average number of soybean pods in a 3-by-3-foot square at 1,169.5, down 11 percent from the tour's 2006 count of 1,316.4 pods and the three-year average of 1,370.5.
The 2007 figure was based on samples of 97 soybean fields. The tour projected Indiana's corn yield at 137.7 bushels per acre (bpa), up 1 percent from the 2006 tour forecast of 136.7 bpa and below the tour's three-year average of 140.0. Scouts sampled 99 Indiana corn fields this year.
"After seeing Ohio the day before, I thought maybe we would be looking at a disappointment in Indiana. But I was slightly, pleasantly, surprised. They probably got a little more rain at the right times," said Mark Bernard, a crop consultant for the eastern leg of the tour.
A hot spell that began around the start of the month appeared to hit Indiana soybeans harder than corn, limiting the crop's ability to set pods. The pod-setting phase in August is the key period for determining soybean yields, whereas corn is more sensitive to weather in July, when it pollinates.
Still, the corn was affected by the August heat, which hit during the grain-filling stage. As a result, some ears of corn that might have had 7 inches of fully-developed kernels instead had only 5 inches of kernels.
Scouts found a wide range of crop conditions throughout Indiana, with the best fields benefiting from timely rains. Some corn fields that looked healthy when viewed from the road produced undersized ears or low plant populations.
"I would say (crop potential) is extremely variable, even though it appeared good," said Byron Jones, a farmer from Saybrook, Illinois, who is on the tour. "The farmer did everything right. Water and heat were the defining factors."
The tour found the lowest averages for both corn and soybeans in Indiana's District 3, in the state's northeast corner, bordering Ohio.
Scouts found some incidence of "sudden death syndrome," a fungal disease, in soybeans, and a few aphids, but insect and disease pressure was generally light throughout the state.
The US Department of Agriculture projected the Indiana soybean yield as of Aug. 1 at 47 bushels per acre, down 6 percent from 50 bpa in 2006. USDA pegged the Indiana corn yield as of Aug. 1 at 157 bpa, unchanged from 2006. - Reuters