A summary report from the July Crop Tour released Tuesday confirmed what the world has already learned: "The U.S. corn crop is in very bad shape due to extreme heat and drought." The average corn yield estimate from 49 stops between Columbus, Ohio and Omaha, Nebraska was 133 bu/ac.
Tapley's firm, MDA EarthSat Weather, currently pegs the national yield estimate for corn at 125.6 bu/ac.
"I think the yields we found on the tour represent a maximum yield potential, especially in Iowa, where the crop was younger and additional kernel abortion is likely to occur," Tapley told Agriculture.com. "The heat and dryness will also lead to low test weights again this year, further reducing yields."
There were surprises along the way, Tapley said. "The area of Ohio that we surveyed was in much worse shape than expected," he said. "Corn in the portion of Indiana we surveyed is a disaster. Many fields will yield zero."
In general, the condition of the corn crop improved from east to west. But with better prospects in the western sections of the tour came considerable variablity.
"I think the biggest thing that stuck out was the incredible variability we saw, especially in western Illinois and Iowa," Tapley said. "Even within the same field, some of the corn crop looked completely dead, while other sections were still green."
Soybeans surveyed along the tour route were a pleasant surprise in places, Tapley said.
"The soybean crop was in better shape than many were expecting, but it was too early to make any kind of yield estimate from what we found on the tour," he said. "Without rain over the next two to three weeks, the bean crop will likely end up facing the same kind of yield reductions that have already occurred in the corn crop."