2023 RVC Crop Tour

Aug 23, 2023

River Valley Cooperative is excited to share the results of our 2023 Crop Tour! Our primary goal is to provide eastern Iowa and western Illinois with accurate growing season information about potential corn and soybean yields during the upcoming harvest season.

Our account managers took over 700 samples between Iowa and Illinois, August 14-23.  The summary of yield averages are shown below, providing insights into potential corn and soybean production. 

To view updates from this past week on social media, visit the RVCTwitter account @RVCooperative or search the hashtag #RVCcroptour23

The last several weeks, account managers in our trade territory took to the fields, taking a glimpse at what we might have in our bins this fall. I think everyone knows this growing season has been different than others.

If we look back at planting, we often saw optimal planting conditions and good soil moisture/emergence early on. Most fields planted before May 8th had an excellent activating rainfall for preemergence herbicides around an inch. After those conditions seemed to grow increasingly dry, and other than a few spotty showers here and there, fields really took a toll in the months of June and early July.

From there, many had considered this year to be an insurance year, but luckily, we were able to catch some timely rains in our region to help during pollination and early grain fill. Unfortunately, some might say it was too late. We can agree the crop was put under tremendous stress, but we all should credit how far genetics have come since hybrid corn was brought to the market. I think some of the more significant concerns now are that we are in the grain fill stage and have some intense heat this week, which might be putting into question the test weight for this crop.

Generally, looking at the crop tour in the last week, I think there was much learned for our growers outside of taking yield checks when in the fields. I think there should be many considerations with how we do things in terms of herbicide programs. We are already seeing a difficult time with control of specific weed biotypes, and this year reflected fields with good weed seed management strategies and other fields that need to take a different approach to controlling weed seed banks.

For many, we must continue realizing that spending money on a good crop protection program will save you money in the long run versus harvesting a weed-infested field competing with our cash crops for light, moisture, and nutrients. I think collectively, everyone from the farmer to the retailer should continue working together to build robust programs, both PRE and POST.

If we can get ahead early with our residual herbicides, then that will put less pressure on our post-pass to clean things up. Some fields saw heavy pressure and weeds that had stopped growing due to the drought, and ultimately, many need to remember the adjuvant package is just as important as the chemicals we put in our sprayers.

Iowa Crop Tour Update
Across the River Valley Cooperative trade area in Iowa, 370 samples were taken and averaged. Overall, we have a good crop: 204 BPA average across all Iowa samples.

We saw variability throughout the counties sampled on the Iowa side of the crop tour. Early June rain areas showed up on the better end of the yields. Corn-on-corn fields were roughly 20 bushels less than corn on soybean acres. As we enter this hot dry week, the differences are starting to become more evident.

Population in the corn fields was variable and the biggest factor in overall yield checks. Populations ranged from 27 up to 35. Ear counts were surprisingly good, with limited pollination issues. Ear girth ranged from 14-20. Ear length 25-45.

Several fields visited have significant tip back. The big question that remains as the growing season comes to a close be kernel depth if we don’t get rain or some heat relief soon.

Illinois Crop Tour Update
The Illinois River Valley Cooperative Crop Tour featured 356 samples taken from area fields. The crop overall looked healthy, with a 207.1 BPA.

Most fields planted in early May had an activating rainfall for preemergence herbicides. Conditions seemed to grow increasingly dry, and other than a few spotty showers here and there, fields took a toll in the months of June and early July. Luckily, we were able to catch some timely rains to help during pollination and early grain fill.

This year, those who took a proactive approach to controlling weeds experienced better returns. It is important to remember the adjuvant package is just as important as the chemicals we put in our sprayers.

Yields were highly variable at times, but overall, we found a near-record yield estimate for this region of Illinois. 207.1 bpa is the 4th highest crop tour yield, but was down from last year's record of 213.2. The stand was excellent, and in most cases, what was planted was what was still standing in the field. Overall, the crop appears to be very healthy across the area! 

Overall, there was a lot learned this growing season, and given the conditions, yields are still in a range many are happy with. Based on crop tour results, our account managers are gearing up to assist customers as they plan and make strategic decisions for 2024. 

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