CHICAGO (Reuters) - Two of the three TR Crop Watch producers – with the exception of the one in southeastern Illinois - were generally pleased with the weather conditions over the past week, but more rainfall would make the growers more comfortable as the pollination period nears.
The farmers of TR Crop Watch – which features weekly, real-life check-ins with two farmers in Illinois and one in Minnesota – are currently expecting average to above average yields for this year’s corn and soybean harvest.
The Illinois corn is now just three weeks away from the start of pollination and soybeans there should also begin their reproductive stage in the next several days. Weather over the next couple weeks will be important to place the crops in the best possible condition to begin this crucial period. The Minnesota crops should enter these stages about three weeks later.
Average-to-cooler temperatures are expected across the entire Corn Belt for the next week, with the weekend ushering in highs up to 15 degrees below normal. These temperatures are generally favorable for the Illinois growers, particularly where it is dry, but the Minnesota-based farmer would rather see slightly warmer weather to facilitate continued development for both his corn and soybeans.
Rainfall is also likely to be below average over the next week, which is of least concern for Farmer B but of most concern to Farmer C, whose crops could come under further stress as a result.
The growers - known as Farmers A, B and C - will assign a condition score every week to each field, similar to the system used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The ratings are: excellent – 5, good – 4, fair – 3, poor – 2, very poor – 1.
They will also give their best estimation of yield potential. The yield ratings are: yields well above average – 5, slightly above – 4, average – 3, slightly below – 2, well below average – 1.
Farmer A corn, June 12 versus June 18: (reut.rs/2thmhx5)
Farmer A soybeans, June 12 versus June 18: (reut.rs/2rL3A2Z)
As of June 18, Farmer A’s Champaign County, Illinois, corn stands just over 4.5 feet (1.4 m) tall compared with 2 feet (0.6 m) a week earlier. This field received two rain events last week – some 1.5 inches (38 mm) early in the week and 0.2 inch (5 mm) on Saturday.
The next week of weather looks mostly favorable for A’s corn, though he notes the crop will certainly need another rain in 10 days. In about 2.5 or three weeks, he expects this field to tassel – which is the beginning of the pollination period.
A’s soybeans have reached 11 inches (0.28 m) by June 18, representing growth of 5 inches (0.13 m) on the week. The plants should begin flowering next week as they enter the reproductive stage.
Farmer A now rates his crop conditions and yield potential at a 3 all around. Last week, he assigned both corn and soybeans a 4 score on condition, but with some milder weather and the potential for a good shower to end the week, he might be more satisfied with the state of his crops next week.
Farmer B corn, June 11 versus June 18: (tmsnrt.rs/2thRujS)
Farmer B soybeans, June 11 versus June 18: (reut.rs/2ti0Uf3)
Farmer B’s corn reached 22 inches (0.56 m) in height by June 18, which is 10 inches (0.25 mm) taller than the week before. This field received about 0.8 inch (20 mm) of rain within the last week.
He expects that his Freeborn County corn field will begin pollination around July 20 – which is later than in the previous two years. B’s soybeans are likely to begin flowering in early July and will be setting and filling pods toward the end of the month.
His soybeans are now up to 8 inches (0.2 m) tall compared with 5 inches (0.13 m) on June 11. The cooler-than-average temperatures forecast for the coming week are not ideal for B’s beans, as he would prefer high temperatures at or a bit above 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C).
The expected high temperatures in the 70s F – and possibly below at the end of the week – are also a little cooler than Farmer B would prefer for his corn, but he is just happy at this point that he has thus far avoided severe weather, which is common in Minnesota in June and usually his biggest concern this month.
As of June 18, B left his corn and soybean condition rating of 5 and yield potential score of 4 unchanged from last week.
Farmer C corn, June 11 versus June 18: (reut.rs/2rKGhGy)
Farmer C soybeans, June 11 versus June 18: (reut.rs/2sI0OQM)
Farmer C’s Crawford County, Illinois, corn field has had the most challenging weather of the six Crop Watch fields as rain has been largely elusive for the past month. Corn plants in his sample spot stand just over 4.5 feet (1.4 m) tall versus 3 feet (0.9 m) the previous week, but some plants on lower-quality soil in the same field stood only 3 feet tall as of June 18.
His corn received a total of only 0.6 inch (15 mm) over the last week, which started out very hot. A midweek shower and cooler temperatures to finish off the week provided relief, but it will not last long without more rain. C downgraded his corn condition and yield potential to 3 as of June 18 from 4 the week prior because the crop is short of moisture.
C’s soybeans are not as visually stressed as his corn, and he notes there is still a lot of time yet for the beans. The plants grew about 2 inches (51 mm) within the week and now stand up to 14 inches (0.36 m) tall.
He has noticed some blooms forming on the bean plants already, meaning that flowering is likely around the corner. C is still somewhat optimistic about his soybeans as he left the condition and yield rating of 4 unchanged from last week.
Farmer C’s corn is about three weeks away from the tassel stage, and without abundant rain in the forecast, he expects that yield potential will continue to shrink. The expected lack of extreme heat in the days ahead and particularly the well-below-average temperatures toward the weekend will certainly help, but if the sun is out too much and there is no rainfall, corn leaves will continue to exhibit stress by rolling up.
He also notes that soybean fields in his area – particularly those with drier soil types – will likely start showing signs of stress by next week if the forecast for below-average rainfall in the coming days is realized.
Be sure to check back for future updates. There are more photos of this week’s Thomson Reuters Crop Watch update – including aerial footage – at the following page: (bit.ly/2qKyEPR)
I will also be posting content on Twitter using the hashtag #TRCropWatch.
The latest GFS and EC weather model runs in each of the farmers’ agricultural districts are available on the Thomson Reuters Agriculture Weather Dashboard U.S. Midwest page:
Editing by Matthew Lewis