July 27, 2012 / 6:06 PM / 5 years ago

TOUR-Corn highly variable in west Iowa, yields lower

* Corn yields seen 26 percent lower in west-central Iowa

* Soy better in Iowa than in Illinois and Indiana

By Karl Plume

SCRANTON, Iowa, July 27 (Reuters) - Corn yield potential appears highly variable in west-central Iowa, mirroring the ups and downs of production prospects in the central and eastern areas of the No. 1 corn and soy growing state, scouts on a U.S. Midwest crop tour said Friday.

Some plants suffering under the worst drought in 56 years were withered and dying, standing only 4 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m)tall with thin stalks and small ears.

Others, though mostly green, were visibly stressed by heat and drought. Many cobs were well pollinated but have been aborting kernels from the tip, a sign of heat and moisture stress.

Corn yields on the final day of the MDA EarthSat crop tour were projected at 136.5 bushels per acre in four fields surveyed in Webster, Greene, Carroll and Crawford counties, down from 184 bpa last year, a decline of about 26 percent.

West-central Iowa has received about 75 percent or less of its normal rainfall since June 1. A storm on Wednesday night brought only light precipitation.

The region also baked under triple-digit heat in recent weeks. As a result, corn that was planted early was severely stressed shortly after pollinating, and later-planted grain did not pollinate effectively.

The entire state was in severe drought or worse, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor issued by climatologists. More than a quarter of Iowa, in east-central and far southeast areas, was under extreme drought, the first time since January 2006 that any part of the state was in that category.

Soybean plants had many flowers and the top soil was wet after recent rains, but the crop needs more showers as the plants start to form pods, the scouts found.

The tour, which ends on Friday in Omaha, does not project soy yields. Soy crops in Iowa appeared in better condition than those scouted earlier this week in Illinois and Indiana, tour members said. (Reporting by Karl Plume; editing by Jim Marshall)

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