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June 25, 2014

Trip Report - Iowa, Minnesota, S.E. South Dakota, N. Illinois

Over the weekend (Friday and Saturday, June 21st and 22nd) I traveled through the northwestern Corn Belt. A lot of the water had already drained away by the time I went through, but more rain fell in the area on Sunday and there is more rain in the forecast. My observations of the crop conditions in the region include the following:

Iowa

  • The ponding and standing water is an issue in the far northwestern part of the state. There was some ponding in central and eastern Iowa, but not very much.
  • The floodplains of the local rivers were hardest hit and those areas will be under water for a long time. There is no chance those floodplains will be replanted.
  • Some of the ponded areas had drained away by the time I went through, but the rainfall on Sunday may have refilled them again. I think there is a minimal chance those ponded areas will be replanted.
  • It appeared that the soybeans had been impacted more so than the corn.
  • The problem in Iowa is more about lost acres than it is about lost yield potential.
  • Outside of the ponded areas and river bottoms, I thought the corn looked really good.
  • The tallest corn was waist high, deep green in color with good uniform stands and it was growing very fast.
  • In the saturated areas there was some unevenness to the corn with yellowish green corn indicating waterlogged conditions. The corn is in better condition on the well-drained soils compared to the poorly drained soils.
  • The overall yield potential for the Iowa corn crop is still very good.
  • A lot of the soybeans though did not look very good at all. Many of the soybeans were very small (only a few inches tall), a yellowish green color and slow growing due to the saturated soils and a lot of the soybean fields had spotty stands especially on hillsides. It was apparent that the nitrogen fixing process had not yet started and that is the cause of the poor color. Any soybeans that had been underwater for an extended period of time were killed, but even where the water had already drained away; there were large areas where the soybeans had died.
  • Some of these soybeans may be replanted if the weather would turn dryer in the next week or two, but I suspect that most ponded areas will not be replanted. If they are replanted, the yields will be very low.
  • Even in the areas where it had not flooded, some of the soybeans were struggling to get established due to the wet conditions.
  • For now, I would say the soybeans in Iowa have an average yield potential at best. What the crop needs is two weeks of warm and dry weather.
  • Iowa in general was not as bad as I had expected although in specific areas it is very bad. Outside of those areas, the corn looked good but the soybeans looked average.

Southern Minnesota

  • There was a lot of ponding in southern Minnesota with many of the potholes filled with 1-2 feet of water. The worst I saw was water up to the top of the fence posts.
  • Some pot holes had drained away, but the ground was still saturated.
  • The area with the most standing water was south-central Minnesota and the ponding in Minnesota may be more widespread than in Iowa. There may be more lost acres in Minnesota than in Iowa because the wetness may be more widespread.
  • Outside of the ponded areas, the corn on the higher ground looked good. The tallest corn I saw was about thigh-high, dark green in color and growing rapidly. There was some unevenness in the corn and some areas of yellowish green corn indicating saturated conditions and a lack of nitrogen. There was also some hail damage to the corn in specific areas in southwest Minnesota.
  • I though the soybeans had been more impacted by the wet conditions than the corn. A lot of the soybeans were very small, slow growing, and struggling in the saturated conditions even on the higher ground.
  • If the potholes could dry up in the next week or two, some of them will be replanted, but if they don’t dry up by the first week of July, then they will not be replanted. I don’t expect any of the corn to be replanted, but some soybeans might be replanted.
  • In Minnesota it is more of an acreage issue than a yield issue and I think the corn crop in the state could still have an average yield potential. At the present time, I would estimate the soybean yield in Minnesota as just average at best.
  • Southern Minnesota is as bad as I had expected. There is a lot of standing water in some counties and I think over 30 counties in the state have been declared disaster areas.

Southeastern South Dakota

  • In the flatter areas there was a lot of standing water. Without any high ground, there is no place for the water to drain, so it was just sitting there. The water had been much higher a few days before I went through because you could still see cornstalks lying on the shoulder of the interstate highway indicating that the water had been right up to the edge of the asphalt.
  • Once again, I thought the soybeans had been more impacted than the corn. I saw corn that was four feet tall and standing in water, whereas the soybeans right next door were very short and under water. The corn will probably survive (if the water drains away), but the soybeans will not.
  • There were patches in the soybean fields where the plants had died, but I did not see very many similar patches in the corn fields where the plants had died.
  • Unfortunately, the same area received more rain on Sunday, so the situation is not improving.
  • Southeastern South Dakota is as bad as I had expected, especially in the flatter areas where the water has no place to drain.

Northern Illinois

  • There were a few pockets of standing water in northern Illinois, but they were widely scattered.
  • The corn looked really good in Illinois. The tallest corn was waist-high, dark green in color with uniform stands and very little if any stress apparent.
  • The soybeans did not look as good as the corn although the soybeans in Illinois looked better than the soybeans in Iowa or Minnesota.
  • A lot of the soybeans were still very small, slow growing, and had not yet developed that dark green color.
  • The crops in northern Illinois have a very high yield potential especially the corn and I would say the situation in northern Illinois was better than I had expected.