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July 27, 2011

Trip Report

Last week I toured the southwestern Corn Belt on the following route: Chicago, IL - Springfield, IL - St. Louis, MO - Kansas City, MO - Topeka, KS - Salina, KS, Hebron, NE - Auburn, NE - Red Oak, IA - Burlington, IA - Galesburg, IL - Chicago, IL. Needless to say, the weather during my tour was very hot, sunny, clear blue skies, and very windy, all adverse conditions for both corn and soybeans. Below are my observations of Illinois, central and northern Missouri, eastern Kansas, southern and southeastern Nebraska, and southern Iowa. These observations were made before the weekend rains fell in many of these locations.

Illinois

  • Illinois was generally dryer than I expected especially northern, eastern, and central locations.
  • Heavy weekend rains across far northern Illinois has certainly eliminated the moisture deficits in that part of the state. Rains also fell in central and eastern Illinois over the weekend.
  • A lot of moisture stress was apparent in the corn, especially the later planted corn.
  • Most of the corn was in the midst of pollination, but it was too early to judge the success of the pollination.
  • A lot of soybeans are short for this time of the year because of the slow growth caused by the hot and dry conditions. Many fields were less than knee high.
  • Soybeans that had been replanted in the ponded areas are very small (ankle high) with a very low yield potential.
  • The potential for trend line corn yields in the state will depend on the weather over the next few weeks. Immediate relief from the dry weather will be needed in order to achieve a trend line yield.
  • The potential for trend line soybean yields will also depend on the weather over the next three weeks. Until the rains of this past weekend, the weather during July had not been very conducive for rapid soybean development. Soybean growth during July has been slower than normal.

Missouri

  • The crops in the central part of Missouri looked OK. Rain earlier in July limited the amount of moisture stress on the corn. There is some unevenness in the corn, but most appeared to be on track for average or slightly below average yield.
  • Soybeans in the central part of the state are small and uneven for this time of the year.
  • In the northern part of the state it was much dryer, the corn was showing more stress and the soybeans were even smaller for this time of the year.
  • It appeared that the corn crop in Missouri might have a greater chance for trend line yields than the soybean crop.
  • The soybean crop needs improved weather ASAP in order to get additional growth before early August.

Eastern Half of Kansas

  • The eastern half of Kansas is doing better than I expected.
  • Rainfall earlier in the month was enough to limit the amount of moisture stress to levels below what would be expected given the high temperatures.
  • There were dry pockets of course, but moisture stress was not as bad as you would expect given the adverse weather conditions.
  • The condition of the corn crop started to decline as you approached the center of the state.
  • The corn in the western half of the state is in a much worse situation due to hotter temperatures and dryer soils.
  • Nearly all the soybeans in Kansas are grown in the eastern half of the state and the crop appeared to be OK, but additional rainfall will be needed ASAP to avoid a rapid deterioration of the crop.
  • Both the corn crop and the soybean crop in Kansas are going to be below trend.

Southern Nebraska

  • The crops in southern Nebraska look very good. Both the corn and the soybeans are tall, robust, and in very good condition.
  • Rainfall has been good enough in parts of southern Nebraska that some of the center pivots were not even operating.
  • The only really dry area in southern Nebraska was in the southeastern corner of the state where moisture stress was apparent especially on some of the later planted crops.
  • The yields of both the corn and the soybean crops in southern Nebraska are going to be above trend line this year.

Southern Iowa

  • Much of southern Iowa is dryer than normal with the driest region being the south-central and southeast quarter of the state.
  • Moisture stress was apparent on the corn especially on the steeper hillside or where the corn was planted later than normal. More stress was apparent on the lighter soils.
  • There was a lot of unevenness in the corn especially in the southeastern quarter of the state.
  • Many of the soybeans were small for late July and especially in southeastern Iowa where they were planted later than normal.
  • Rainfall over the weekend will help both the corn and the soybean crops across southern Iowa.
  • I did not see all of Iowa, but with the rainfall of the past few days, both the corn and soybean crops in Iowa should end up above trend line.

Summary

  • The crops in Iowa and Nebraska are going to be the best in the Corn Belt and with the rainfall of this past weekend; the crops won't be under significant stress for at least another week or so.
  • The crops in Illinois could go either way. The crops will either be trend line or below trend line depending on the weather over the next few weeks. Weekend rains certainly helped the crops in Illinois, but more will be needed to keep the crops from deteriorating further.
  • The crops in Missouri could also go either way depending on the weather, but right now they are trending downward.
  • The crops in Kansas will end up below trend line; the problems in the western part of the state are too great to be compensated for by the crops in the eastern half of the state.

Flooding Along the Missouri River Floodplain

The Missouri River flooding has faded from the news headlines, but the water still covers much of the floodplain. The Missouri River is still out of its banks and it was hard to get across the river because many of the roads are still closed. Interstate 29 is closed in both directions south of Omaha, Nebraska. You could see corn fields that were head-high when the flood hit and they are now mostly under water. The number of buildings surrounded by water is too numerous to count including: houses, farm buildings, grain bins, etc. It was really sad and unfortunately the water is not going away any time soon.

In the heart of the floodplain, crop losses are 100%.