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 Four of this year's tour, which covered Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. You can read more about the tour's official findings, including statewide yield estimates here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….
Conditions have been darn-near perfect where Matt Bennett farms in central Illinois. Planting got off to an early start in April, and while there was a cold snap in the spring, overall emergence was excellent. The crop has been regularly topped off with rainfall, and never too much all at once. Investments in drainage tile made a difference this year, helping some fields avoid becoming too wet, he said.
In the first few weeks of August, his farm received about 1.5 inches of rain, spread out over several events.
Much of the state has seen the same beneficial rainfall patterns, and that's why Bennett said Illinois has a chance of breaking the 210-bushel-per-acre (bpa) record yield set in 2018.
"Especially after the rains we've had here in the last several days, it seems to me like most crops are going to finish really well. If you asked me what the chances are that we'll break the record, I'd say it's 50-50," Bennett said.
In the counties where he farms -- Shelby and Moultrie -- Gro pegs corn yields at 210 bpa and 218 bpa, respectively. When DTN visited Bennett's farm in late July, field samples suggested his farm could yield much higher than county averages. Bennett said that's because there's a distinct change in soil type south of Highway 16 along where an ancient glacier ended, and he farms north of that line. (Check out the video here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)
As for soybeans, Bennett thinks Gro's soybean estimates are about right at 64.2 bpa and 66.5 bpa, respectively.
With the regular rains they've had the past few weeks, he thinks reports of yields in the 80s or higher will be widespread. With as much rain as his region has gotten this year, it's apparent which soybean fields don't have drainage tile by the yellowing of their leaves.
Bennett's farms are just south of Illinois' highest-yielding county. Piatt County is forecast to average 68.14 bpa.
Scott Wallis of Princeton, Indiana, is looking forward to a record-breaking harvest. Growing conditions on his farms in far southwest Indiana and southeast Illinois were nearly perfect.
Wallis said his fields, like much of the Eastern Corn Belt, enjoyed ample, timely rain and moderate temperatures through the growing season. He predicts corn yields will exceed the past farm record by 5 to 10 bpa and, soybeans will beat the farm's previous all-time high by 2 to 5 bpa. Wallis declined to provide yield estimates but said his production should be "significantly higher" than state and county Gro projections.
"We feel today we will have a record crop," Wallis said. DTN visited Wallis' farm in late July to do some yield estimates. You can watch that video here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….
Wallis has farms in Gibson and Pike counties in Indiana, along with Wabash and Lawrence counties in Illinois. For his Indiana counties, Gro estimates corn yields of 193.7 bpa and 183 bpa, respectively. Soybean yields are estimated at 59.9 bpa and 54.6 bpa, respectively.
Wallis said planting was wrapped up by April 20 this year. As far as rain, Wallis Farms was blessed with 4 inches of rain in June, almost 6 inches of rain in July, and more than 2.5 inches so far in August.
"We've been extremely fortunate," Wallis said. "It's probably one of the best-looking areas in the Midwest."
Early promise of a good crop for south-central Ohio farmer Keith Peters is in jeopardy as August rains that have blessed much of the state have mostly missed his fields. If Peters' corn and soybeans don't get a good drink soon, yield potential will plummet.
Rain is in the forecast Friday, but that doesn't mean it will fall. Peters said several storms, which were expected to soak his fields near Ashville in Pickaway County earlier this week, didn't materialize or skirted around his farms.
"These storms are just going around me. We're not getting the rains at all," Peters lamented. "Yields are in question."
Peters said that in the last month, his 2,500 acres of corn and soybeans have received 1 inch to 1.5 inches of rain. That's not enough during the critical production period, and as corn ears and soybean pods continue to fill.
Peters said his best corn ground as of now could range between 180 to 190 bpa. On course-textured soil where corn plants are fired up above the ear, 160 to 170 bpa is possible, but those numbers depend on future rain.
"Kernels are nowhere near mature, so they are starting to shrink up. Ears will lose a lot of dry matter," he said.
For soybeans, Peters said yield potential is still "phenomenal" on his best soils -- 70-plus bpa with more rain. On course-textured soils, though, soybeans are dying due to drought. "They are not coming back with a rain," he said. "There's still some yield, 65-plus (bpa) right now. But without some rain, it will drop below 60 very quick."
Peterson doesn't doubt Gro's high yield estimates for Ohio -- 186.6 bpa for corn and 57.4 bpa for soybeans -- or the good yield averages for corn and soybeans precited in his county of 184.8 and 60.1 bpa, respectively. Those averages, unfortunately, aren't in the cards for Peters.
"I know farmers a little south and west of me, and they have some of the best crops they've ever had," Peters said. "It's hard to hear how great the crop (statewide) is going to be."
You can find all DTN Digital Yield Tour coverage at https://spotlights.dtnpf.com/….
Katie Dehlinger can be reached at email@example.com
Follow her on Twitter at @KatieD_DTN
Matthew Wilde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @progressivwilde
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