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June 26, 2012

Trip Report

Over the weekend I toured Indiana, northwest Ohio, and eastern Illinois with the following observations:

Eastern Illinois

  • Eastern Illinois has a few locations where the crops caught a shower or two and they look OK, but most locations are in desperate need of a good soaking rain.
  • The tassels are starting to appear in a few corn fields, but most fields will be tasseling later this week or next week.
  • The height of the earlier planted corn is normal and the earlier planted corn is doing better and the later planted corn.
  • The later planted corn is suffering the most from the moisture stress. Its height ranges from thigh high to chest high and I think a lot of the later planted corn is going to end up being shorter than average in height.
  • In the area I traveled in eastern Illinois (Champaign County to Chicago), approximately 75% of the corn was in some level of moisture stress from mild to very severe. I did not see any corn that was dying, but the worst fields are going to be very low yielding.
  • The plant populations looked normal to me.
  • The height of the crop was very uneven and a few of the worst spots like the hill tops or the corners of the fields may not produce any ears if the weather does not improve quickly.
  • Illinois is definitely in the below-trend category on corn yields and there is a big downside risk for the crop.
  • The Illinois corn crop was a little worse than I expected.
  • The soybeans are generally small and growing very slowly. The tallest soybeans I saw were just short of knee high and the smallest soybeans were just emerging. The average height was approximately 8".
  • A lot of the soybean fields are showing stress in the form of light green color and wilting plants. Without additional rainfall, the crop is going to end up shorter than normal.
  • Unless the weather pattern changes quickly, the yield of the Illinois soybean crop will definitely be below trend.
  • The Illinois soybean crop was about as I expected.
  • Most lawns in eastern Illinois are brown or yellow and the grass has gone dormant.

Indiana

  • In Indiana the crops vary tremendously depending if they caught a rain or not.
  • Northern and eastern Indiana are the worst, around Fort Wayne in northeastern Indiana the crops are really bad.
  • The corn is short, uneven, yellowish green, and under severe moisture stress.
  • There are many spots in the fields where the plant population is poor.
  • It appeared that the later the corn was planted the more severely it has been impacted by the dry conditions.
  • In western Indiana around Lafayette the corn looks OK, its tall, dark green, healthy, not under any noticeable moisture stress, and the yields could be Ok if it doesn't get too hot and dry.
  • In eastern Indiana the corn height ranges from knee high to shoulder high. In western Indiana the corn appears to be normal in height with tassels appearing in a few fields.
  • Of what I saw of Indiana, I would estimate that no more than 30% of the corn would be rated in the good to excellent category.
  • There are a lot of foliar diseases starting to appear on the corn that is under stress.
  • Eastern Indiana was much worse than I expected while western Indiana was better than I expected.
  • The Indiana corn crop has a lot of downside risk and it will end up below trend.
  • The Indiana soybeans look worse than the corn.
  • In eastern Indiana many fields have baron spots where the soybeans did not germinate. In some fields, the plant population is maybe 75% to 80% of normal.
  • The soybeans are very uneven and their height is in the range of just emerging to 6-8" tall. The crop is not growing, the color is pale green, and many soybeans were wilting.
  • The soybeans in western Indiana looked much better. They were dark green in color, had a uniform stand, and looked like a normal field of soybeans for the last week of June.
  • The soybeans in eastern Indiana were terrible and much worse than I expected. The soybeans in western Indiana were a pleasant surprise and they were better than I expected.
  • Even with an area of normal soybeans in western Indiana, the statewide soybean crop is going to be below trend in yield.
  • In northern and eastern Indiana the lawns are about the same color as the wheat - a beautiful golden yellow, but there were a few green lawns in western Indiana and that was the only place I saw green lawns on the entire trip.

Northwestern Ohio

  • Most of the crops that I saw in northwestern Ohio were very bad.
  • The corn was short, greenish yellow, poor plant populations, very uneven in height, and under severe moisture stress.
  • There were many corn fields where the tallest corn in the field was chest high and the shortest corn was knee high with many skips in the row where there no plants at all.
  • In general, the corn population was less than desirable.
  • Most of the corn in northwest Ohio will pollinate next week or the second week of July.
  • The corn crop in northwestern Ohio was much worse than I expected and needless to say, the crop is in big trouble and there is a large downside risk for the crop. I had the corn crop in Ohio in the at-trend category up until this week and I moved it down to the below trend category.
  • The soybeans are worse than the corn. The plant populations are very spotty and there are many fields where whole sections of the field are devoid of plants.
  • There are fields where only 15% to 20% of the soybeans have germinated and I saw other fields that had been planted, but the soybeans had not yet emerged.
  • The soybeans were very short and uneven from just emerging to maybe 6-8" tall.
  • The soybeans are very slow growing, pale green in color, and under severe stress. I did not see any soybeans that were dying but that will change without additional moisture very soon.
  • The soybeans in northwestern Ohio were much worse than I expected and the crop looked even worse than the corn. The soybean crop in Ohio is definitely below trend.
  • The lawns were the same color as the wheat - golden yellow.

Trip Summary - Eastern Corn Belt

If you traveled through the eastern Corn Belt without looking at the calendar date or the crops in the field, you would have thought it was late August. Some of the sycamore and cottonwood trees are dropping leaves while other trees are turning that brownish color you see late in the summer. The area looks, feels, and smells like its late summer instead of the end of June. I did not sense any of the "green and growing" smell that is normally associated with late spring and early summer.

In general, the situation in the eastern Corn Belt was worse than I expected. There are a few pockets where the crops are good, but they are the exception. Most of the crops have already suffered yield losses and those losses will continue to mount quickly if the current hot and dry pattern continues.