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June 2016 Planting Report

June 2016 Planting Report

The spring planting season is almost complete as we post this on June 1.  For the week ending May 29th the USDA reported corn planting at 99%, 97%, and 93% compete in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana, respectively, and 78%, 76%, and 74% complete for soybeans.  Soybean planting increased significantly the last week of May, especially in Illinois.

The planting season in Central Illinois and in North Central Iowa where we manage large blocks of farmland, was basically divided into two seasons.  We were able to get our corn planted during the early season, in last two weeks of April, which we consider to be the optimal time.  Soil conditions were near ideal and we have excellent stands.

Then cool and wet weather kept us out of the field for a couple of weeks during early May, but the soybeans that have been planted during the past week are emerging quickly and getting off to a great start.  Ideally we would like to have been planting soybeans in late April and early May, but we are still within the optimal time period for good soybean yields this fall.

DSC_0119The biggest struggle during the 2016 planting season has been the weather… which is the case every year.  Trying to get the crops planted between rain events.  And its popular today to blame climate change for, seemingly, greater volatility in weather patterns in recent years.

We read an interesting article by Jeff DeYoung in the May 21, 2016 issue of Illinois Farmer Today that agrees that moisture patterns have indeed changed, but that the changes began sixty years ago in the 1950’s.

The article reports that much of the “extreme” weather that is talked about today is a result of “more attention being given to severe weather” than it used to get.  “With the media attention to weather, everything is being reported.”

Iowa State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says that “moisture patterns have changed over the past few decades… and that it’s been going on for quite some time, as far back as the early to mid-50’s”

As interesting as it is to discuss weather patterns and try to predict climate change and its possible implications… the reality is that every year weather affects a landowner’s bottom line more than anything else.  Because weather affects production.  Production affects supply.  Supply affects commodity prices.  And production and prices determine net income, whether directly through crop-share or custom leases or indirectly through cash rent leases that reflect the farm economy.

Ultimately, good farm management and partnering with capable and attentive growers mitigates the production risk caused by weather, reducing the potential income volatility of weather cycles.


AgTech White Paper Released

AgTech White Paper Released


May 12, 2016

Moore & Warner and HighPath Consulting have released a new white paper:

Beyond the Hype: How Agricultural Technology Wins Customers and Creates Value.

Co-authors Jonah Kolb of Moore & Warner and Arne Duss of HighPath Consulting focus on overcoming the adoption challenges agtech companies face in selling to farmer customers, and the go-to-market strategy implications for new and developing technologies.

The 5-page paper examines the structural and competitive dynamics behind farmer decision-making and uses Geoffrey Moore’s Chasm Model of the technology adoption curve to discuss ways new agtech offerings move from early adopters to pragmatic paying customers.

To request a copy:


Please select publications of interest:
(Hold ctrl/cmd key to select multiple publications)

Your request will be submitted automatically, and you will receive an emailed PDF. Please be patient with any systems delays due to request volume.


2016 Global AgInvesting Conference

2016 Global AgInvesting Conference

Join Moore & Warner at the upcoming GlobalAgInvesting 2016 in New York City, April 26-April 28.

Moore & Warner’s Jonah Kolb will presenting “Beyond the Hype: How AgTech Wins Customer Adoption and Creates Value” at the AgTech Investing Summit on Thursday April 28th.

Global AgInvesting is the investment industry’s largest agriculture-focused conference, attracting more than 700 investors, managers, and agribusiness professionals. This year marks GAI’s 8th year in New York.

Global AgInvesting 2016

Conference Agenda

2015 Harvest Snapshot

2015 Harvest Snapshot

Harvest is arguably the busiest time of year on the farm.  A dry end of summer and early fall throughout much of the Midwest meant that corn and soybeans crops “dried down” quickly, reaching the moisture levels at which farmers are keen to harvest and the crop is ready to come out of the field.

It was a flurry of activity for farmers and farm managers alike:  Moore & Warner managers take this time of year to “ride along” in the combine with farmers on client properties.  It is a time to review the progress and success of the crop being brought in, discuss improvements to a farm, and start to plan for the year ahead.

For those far from the farm and agricultural operations, some photos and typical scenes from harvest time:



Estimating Corn Yield

Estimating Corn Yield

August 19, 2015

At this point in the season, it’s common to get back out into the field to do an early “yield check” or “yield estimate” to forecast the ultimate yield come harvest. The recent decreases in grain prices are due not just to the devaluation of the Chinese Yuan (which makes US grain more expensive for China to import and therefore reduces Chinese demand for US grain), but to good reports from the field about crop health and strong initial yield checks. The season started off wet throughout much of the Midwest, but the 2015 crop seems to have recovered a significant amount.

How do you do a corn yield check?

Crop modeling tools and farm software are increasingly offering “tech” versions of a yield estimate that only requires logging into your computer. These tools are based on planting date, the growing degree units (i.e. heat) available to the crop through the season, precipitation, soils, and a number of other factors and the resulting estimate can be quite good and are getting better.

But an in-field yield estimate is still very common and provides hands-on information not available from a computer screen.

There are a multiple ways to estimate yields using sample ears, but unless you have access to scale and moisture testers, the below method is the easiest.

The basic idea is to count ears and kernels from several sample areas in a field and use that information to extrapolate a yield for the entire field/farm. Here’s how you do it:

For a farm with 30in corn rows (the most common):

(1) Pace or measure off 17.5 feet (17.5ft of 1 row of corn planted at 30in rows is 1/1000th of an acre)


(2) Count the number of harvestable ears in the 17.5’ sample strip. (There might be missing stalks, missing ears, or downed corn that cannot be harvested.)

(3) Pick and shuck 3 representative ears.


(4) Count the number of kernel rows per ear, and the number of kernels per row. Calculate the average kernels per ear for the 3 ears, and the average of kernels per row.


(5) Calculate the yield. Estimated Yield = (# ears per 17.5’) x (Avg # of kernel rows per ear) x (Avg # of kernels per row) / 85.

(6) Repeat 4 or more times per field, depending on field variability and average results for a field estimate.


Is a yield check or yield estimate reliable?

Yield estimate are helpful, but not perfect.  The two biggest challenges with the method above come from kernel size and sample areas.  If the ears sampled have heavier or lighter kernels than average, the estimate will be off.