I've done a wee bit of driving over the past week. It started with a trip to see my sister in Springfield, Illinois. I left Omaha, drove south and cut across northern Missouri. On Monday I drove to Chicago for the Agricultural Transportation Summit, and on Wednesday took a straight shot back to Omaha across northern Illinois and central Iowa.
I drove more than 1,000 miles in the past week, and what I saw was all over the board. As for general observations, the best crop seems to be in Iowa. Corn had great color, height and consistency. There's lots of variability in Illinois, and it's clear that some fields lost a lot of nitrogen.
Missouri was banking on beans, but just couldn't get them in the ground. There's been a lot of corn planted across US 36 the past few years, but there's a lot that just didn't get planted this year. I have a feeling USDA will trim soybean acres in next week's report (they resurveyed producers in Missouri due to the lateness of planting).
Holy weeds, Batman. Even if farmers got the crop planted, it looks like a lot of folks in Missouri and Illinois couldn't get into their bean fields to spray.
Now, for more details.
I-29 to Rockport, Missouri --- Crops looked like they were planted late, but overall corn height was pretty consistent across the fields. Soybean fields were late, but looked okay. There were a few good looking bean fields closer to Omaha.
I-29 Rockport to St. Joseph --- There was a fair amount of prevent planting in the river bottoms. Weeds were everywhere in some of those fields. Most of the beans were tiny & hadn't closed rows yet, some were a rather yellowish green. Corn was a lighter color green than you'd like to see, and it looked like the crop emerged unevenly.
US 36 from St. Joseph to Chillicothe --- It's very, very variable with a lot of prevented planting. I think oats and oat mixes were a very popular cover crop choice. Some of the double crop beans that were planted into wheat stubble looked like they were up to about 8 leaves per plant. First crop beans, if they got planted, were really uneven and weren't the right color. I saw a few fields of what looked like corn that hadn't tasseled, but I noticed a few fields of sorghum that had just started to flower near Chillicothe, so I wonder if that wasn't what I saw. Corn in the area looked decent, but it depended on whether the field was on a hill or in a valley. Farmers had definitely planned on expanding soybean acreage here. In years past this road was corn, corn, corn, and it was not that way this year.
US 36 Chillicothe to Hannibal --- The crops looked better than the western half of the state. Much less prevent plant, and some soybean fields had closed rows and had a nice deep green color. Others still looked sickly and small, but overall there was a more equal mix between decent and poor fields. Corn had some height variability issues, but I didn't see as many fields turning yellowish green. Overall it looked healthier.
I-72 to Springfield, Illinois --- Lots of corn on this side of the river, and it looked much better and much more consistent than anything I saw in Missouri. The corn was a deeper green and there were more even fields, except around the Illinois River bottom. Corn straight-up died in some of the wettest fields there, and there was hardly a soybean field to be seen. Crops looked much better from Jacksonville to Springfield, but there were still signs of wetness.
I-55 Springfield to Bloomington --- You could see the issues related to a wet spring in Illinois --- corn of varying heights, yellowing, etc. It's far from dead, however. There were some bean fields planted really, really late, but others looked pretty healthy.
I-88 Chicago to Davenport, Iowa -- Corn east of Interstate 39 showed signs of wet spring. Most cornfields had varying heights, and rows were still visible in a large number of soybean fields. I saw one or two fields that were more mature than others, but they also had a brownish tint. In the western part of the state, it seemed like crops planted on the hills looked much better than what was planted in the low spots. I've seen years where those low spots have had more ponding issues than this year.
I-80 across Iowa -- Best crops I saw. The corn had consistent color and height. I'd almost forgotten what corn was supposed to look like until I got to Iowa. Sure, I'd seen a few good fields scattered across parts of Missouri and Illinois, but the change was dramatic. Soybean fields looked healthy, consistent and like farmers had a chance to spray for weeds. What a change!
In summary, corn's all over the board. I didn't see too much that looked outstanding (except in Iowa), but there are some good fields out there. It's not dead by any means. It's just not ideal. Soybean fields were generally planted late, and some look better than others.
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