Minding Ag's Business

2021 DTN Digital Yield Tour: What Farmers Said About Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin Crops

Matt Wilde
By  Matt Wilde , Progressive Farmer Crops Editor
Lindsay Greiner of Keota, Iowa, checks on corn development in late July leading up to the DTN Digital Yield Tour powered by Gro Intelligence. Greiner is excited to harvest a bumper corn crop on his southeast Iowa farm come harvest. Many farmers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt expect strong corn and soybean yields, though expectations vary based on growing conditions. (DTN photo by Matthew Wilde)

Editor's Note: The 2021 DTN Digital Yield Tour examines corn and soybean yield potential in 10 states by pairing Gro Intelligence's dynamic yield models with commentary from farmers to help readers get a feel for national production potential. Sometimes, we get more information than we can include in a single story.

That's the case with Day 3 of this year's tour, which covered Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Progressive Farmer Crops Editor Matthew Wilde visited with a farmer from each state this morning. Here are some of their thoughts on how crops look in their parts of the country.

You can read more about the tour's official findings, including statewide yield estimates here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…



Drought is typically Lindsay Greiner's nemesis growing corn and soybeans in the rolling hills of southeast Iowa near Keota. This year, though, ample and timely rains kept even his sandy soils from drying out and his crops a healthy green.

In the last 10 days, two soaking rains adding up to 1.3 inches bolstered plant health even more. See Gro's Iowa NDVI map, a measure of plant greenness, here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/….

Greiner expects corn yields to average more than 200 bushels per acre (bpa) on good ground and about that on rougher ground. For soybeans, Greiner expects yields to be in the mid- to high 50s per acre, as long as another rain occurs. With strong commodity prices, he said the good yields feel like hitting the lottery.

"I think the corn looks real good," Greiner said. "It's still a little too early to tell about soybeans, but there's a lot of potential. We have the makings of a pretty good crop down here."

In Keokuk County where Greiner farms, Gro estimates an average corn yield of 191.6 bpa. The company's yield models predict soybeans will average 57.3 bpa in the county.

Pests and disease have not been a problem in crops this year, Greiner said.

As an Iowa Soybean Association board member and past president, Greiner gets crop updates from fellow board members and farmers across the state during meetings and events. He said Gro's statewide average yield projections of 199 bpa for corn and 57.4 bpa for soybeans are accurate at this time.

"The numbers sound realistic to me," Greiner added. "Usually things aren't as bad as you think they are or not as good as you think."


Unlike Greiner, who feels like he hit the lottery with rain and yield potential, south-central Minnesota farmer Mark Nowak isn't as lucky. The farmer and crop consultant recently got calls from clients and family -- some a half-mile away and others a county or two -- saying they got 0.5 inches of rain here and 2 inches there, but his fields didn't get a drop.

Nowak, who farms near Wells, said his corn and soybeans needed a significant drink or two yesterday to develop as they should. Once promising yields, he said, are fleeting.

"We're going backward every day now," Nowak said. "I walk into my fields almost every day. I'm seeing (corn ear) tip back, which is the fastest way to lose yield because it's out of moisture. I squeeze pods and they are not filling as they should."

Gro projects average corn yields of 190.6 bpa in Faribault County where Nowak farms. The company pegs soybeans yields at 55.8 bpa. Nowak believes both estimates are too high, unless more than an inch of rain falls within the next several days that is not in the forecast.

"If you look at the crop from the road or sky, it looks pretty darn good yet, but we're not getting the moisture to finish it," he continued. See Gro's Minnesota and Wisconsin NDVI map, a measure of plant greenness, here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/….

In late July, Nowak said 220-bpa corn and soybeans in the high 50s were possible. Now, 180-bpa corn and 50-bpa soybeans may not occur, he said, since he's short 7 inches of moisture for the growing season. Only 0.4 inches of rain has fallen on Nowak's crops since July 12.

Gro projects corn yields in Martin and Freeborn counties will be 7-bpa better than neighboring Faribault County. Soybean production is also expected higher in Martin and Freeborn counties than Faribault by 1 bpa.

"I'm resigned to the fact we got hit with a very unusual drought for the area," Nowak said. "I will send my crop insurance agent a box of chocolates or flowers as a thank you because he will save my cash flow when I collect crop insurance."


About 3.5 to 5 inches of rain has fallen on Ryan Nell's farm in southeast Wisconsin since Friday. The Beaver Dam producer said it was getting dry, but all the water soaked in to recharge the soil moisture profile and help boost yield potential.

Gro predicts corn yields in Dodge County where Nell farms with family at 189.4 bpa. Soybean yields are pegged at 57.1 bpa. Nell believes the recent rain will help their crops exceed county yield estimates by a wide margin.

A farm-average corn yield of 230 bpa is likely, Nell said, possibly more. Production could near the farm's all-time high average of 242 bpa set last year. Soybean yields in the mid-60s are now likely, he added.

"You couldn't ask for a better weekend of rain ... it hit perfect," Nell said. "The corn crop is made. The rain helped the beans, but more is welcome to make really big beans. I really think we have a record corn and bean crop in our county."

The NDVI map supplied by Gro shows the lush, green areas in many parts of Wisconsin, including Dodge County. (See https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…)

Nell said some hot days and nights did push corn development a little faster than he wanted, which could hurt yields. "That's a little nitpicky ... but we're very fortunate in our area."

Matthew Wilde can be reached at matt.wilde@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @progressivwilde


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