PIPESTONE, Minn. (Reuters) - Corn in southwestern Minnesota was headed for another bumper harvest, but signs of stress early in the growing season raised concerns about soybean production in the area, scouts on annual tour found on Thursday.
Muddy conditions during planting and excessive rain probably hampered soybean development.
“It could have been that they had cold, wet feet early on,” said Trevin Kennedy, a broker and consultant at AgYield LLC who was a scout on the tour. “Beans are not a big fan of that.”
Strong harvests in states like Minnesota were seen as critical to reaching the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s robust production outlook as major growing areas of Iowa and Illinois, the two biggest producers of both crops, suffered through dry conditions during crucial development periods.
Minnesota, at the northern reaches of the Corn Belt, is the third-biggest production state for soybeans and the fourth-largest for corn. The USDA forecast Minnesota production at about 9.7 percent of this year’s total corn harvest and 9.1 percent of the soybean crop.
Corn yields were averaging 204.01 bushels per acre, based on the average of six surveys taken in Rock, Pipestone and Lyon counties. A year ago, tour scouts pegged average yields in the area at 190.93 bpa. The tour’s three-year average is 182.49 bpa.
“The corn is looking better than I thought it would, based on what the (USDA) forecast was,” said tour scout Ryan Oksenhendler, vice president of corporate investments at Continental Grain Co. “They have gotten a fair amount of rain relative to historic levels.
Scouts do not estimate soybean yields but instead calculate the number of pods in 3-foot-by-3-foot (91-cm-by-91-cm) plots to gauge yield potential.
Soybean pod counts on the route averaged 827.42, compared with 1,051.81 in 2016 and the tour’s three-year average of 1,054.29.
On another route further east that included fields in Watonwan, Blue Earth and Faribault, the average corn yield was 198.00 bpa, and the average soybean pod count was 1,230.65.
A third route, where scouts surveyed seven fields in Jackson, Redwood and Renville counties, also showed high corn yields, with four fields topping 200 bpa. Soybean pod counts were low, with only two fields along that route coming in above 1,000.
Tour scouts surveyed fields in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio over a four-day period this week.
Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn