Corn Belt Crop Update: Northeast Corn Development Leads Midwest

Nor' east Thinkin'

Northeast corn may be up to two weeks ahead of that in Iowa and central Corn Belt.

Published on: June 21, 2013

Last week, I reported on Corn Belt crop progress as seen during my travels across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. In brief, I've never seen so much erosion damage or so widespread ponding in soils typically tiled and well-drained in the Corn Belt.

On this week's return trip, a lot more corn was just beginning to poke up through the dirt, and most planter were finishing up soybeans. Even so, I've never seen a Corn Belt corn crop so delayed in development. That's bound to impact final yields – perhaps more than USDA's latest yield projection downgrade.

Relatively few fields west of Ohio are likely to reach "head-high by the 4th of July". That's today's Corn Belt marker of corn crop progress – not knee-high.

Returning to Pennsylvania soils, I found many fields with corn already waist-high. For those fields, it'll be a short jump to the tassel-high stage. And, strangely, you could see areas already needing more than a good rain shower.

Just remember, today's hybrids are nothing like those of your father's era. And as we saw last year, it has an amazing ability to compensate for stress factors such as drought and higher temperatures.

This week, bright, sunny and warm weather returned to the Corn Belt. We also need to keep in mind that growing degree days accumulate a lot faster in the Midwest than in the Northeast. How's that? Once you get into central Ohio, there's less humidity and notably brighter daylight, which means more plant photosynthesis.

That may be why a lot of grain was moved to grain terminals and processing plants early this week. At mid-day Wednesday, at a corn processing plant in Clinton, Iowa, for instance, semis were lined up three abreast for nearly a mile.

So don't count on new crop corn prices dropping below $5 a bushel at harvest out here just yet. And you're right: That's not good news for the beef, dairy, pork or poultry industries in this part of the country.

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