May 22, 2024

McLean survey finds yields above 5-year average

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The annual yield survey by First Mid Ag Services estimates McLean County corn to average 223.69 bushels per acre.

The yield estimate is based on 1,620 samples from 162 locations. The samples were taken on managed farms from every township in McLean County by nine First Mid farm managers, according to Michael Rhoda, First Mid Ag Services assistant vice president, farm manager and survey coordinator.

The nation’s top corn-producing county averaged a record 232.2 bushels per acre in 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual survey.

The yield is just above USDA’s five-year average of 213.6 for the county.

Sample yield estimates ranged from 171.6 bushels per acre to 260.6 bushels per acre. Eighty-eight percent of the locations returned a yield estimate over 200 bushels per acre, compared to 93% in 2021 and 65% in 2022.

A majority of the samples used for this estimate were taken the second week of August.

Ear length was found to be slightly above average and ear population was also above average.

With the hot dry conditions in the third week of August, the survey estimated the kernel weight to be a bit lighter than average.

Here are other observations from McLean County’s in-field yield survey.

Weather: 2023 was an earlier planting year than the five-year average. There were plantings throughout April and May. Roughly 47.5% planted in April and 52.5% in May. May and June consisted of very dry weather. The county experienced a severe drought in June. In the very last part of June and beginning of July, there was some precipitation. August started with temperatures staying in the mid-80s and a few rains, but the week of the 21st turned hot. The Canadian wildfires came into play. That, along with the heat, could hinder grain fill before harvest starts.

Planting Date: Planting dates for the samples taken ranged from April 13 through May 21 with an average planting date of April 29. The April planted corn estimated a roughly 6-bushel advantage in yield versus May planted corn. The sample sets showed a larger kernel length per ear and roughly 500 more ears per acre in the April planted corn.

Emergence: Due to the majority of the farms getting the crop in with good to superb soil conditions, the emergence was good. There were fields planted before one of the few rainfalls that came up a little more uneven which resulted in fewer ears per acre. These fields were the lower on the estimates. Final ear populations of about 33,000 ears per acre were recorded. This estimate was approximately 900 ears per acre higher than the five-year average estimate. The average plants per acre were near average with about 33,800 plants per acre recorded.

Fungicide Application: Each year, First Mid Ag tracks samples sprayed with fungicide. Application typically occurs during the R1 time frame between tassel and brown silk. This year, 79.6% of samples received a fungicide, much less than the 90% sprayed last year. While pulling checks, disease pressure seemed to be little to none in both sprayed and nonsprayed fields. There was minimal to no tar spot. A 9.3 bushel advantage is estimated on farms that were sprayed.

Nitrogen: Anhydrous applications were able to be completed either last year or early this spring. With the lack of moisture through May and June, the survey noticed the fields with anhydrous looked noticeably better. In the yield estimates, First Mid Ag did not collect data from this statistic.

Standability: Plant health was a nonissue throughout most of the season. The average stalk quality rating was 9.6 on a scale from 1 to 10. Some plants had lodged a little and there were a couple of fields that had hail damage. Moving to harvest, the survey noted stalk qualities should be monitored with the possibility of anthracnose and other diseases could still have a negative effect on stalk quality and kernel weight.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor