April 9, 2014

Will 2014 U.S. Corn Yields be impacted by Delayed Planting?

There are already questions about how the slow start to the spring fieldwork might impact the nationwide corn yield. Right now, the only thing we can say with confidence is that early planting of the corn crop in the U.S. will not occur in 2014. That in turn, lowers the possibility of a tremendous high corn yield. In order to achieve a corn yield that is 10 bu/ac above trend line, numerous things need to occur including: early good planting conditions, just the correct amount of rainfall during the critical summer months, a cooler than normal pollination period, good plant health, and a late fall with good harvest weather.

The only thing we can say thus far is that we are not going to have good early planting conditions and the other factors are yet to be determined. Once in a while, a look in the rear view mirror can be very helpful. With that in mind, I think there were two "take home lessons" from the 2013 growing season in the U.S.

The first lesson is that late planting does not necessarily mean lower corn yields. A later-than-normal planted corn crop can still achieve near trend line yields if the summer weather cooperates. The second lesson involves the July temperatures. If the temperatures during July end up being cooler than normal, then there is a high probability that the ensuing corn yields will be trend line or higher. Conversely, if the July temperatures end up being hotter than normal, then there is a higher probability of trend line or lower yields.

At this point, I would say that trend line corn yields in the low 160s bu/ac range are certainly achievable. I have not seen anything thus far that would prevent that possibility from occurring.