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May 2, 2013

What Would it Take for Corn Yields to Fall Below 150 bu/ac?

The odds of repeating last year's disastrous corn yields are very low, but we have had three disappointing corn yields in a row with 152 bu/ac in 2010, 147 bu/ac in 2011, and 123 bu/ac in 2012, so it's possible we could see another disappoint corn yield in 2013. I would estimate that there is maybe a 20% possibility that the 2013 U.S. corn yield could fall to below 150 bu/ac if the following would occur:

  • Continued delays in planting the corn in the central Corn Belt such that a significant portion of the corn gets planted during the last third of May.
  • A rapid snow melt resulting in severe flooding along the Red River in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota which would delay planting until late May or early June. Additional rainfall during the month of May in the region would make the situation even worse.
  • Switching from a wet April/May to a hotter and dryer weather pattern in June which could result in restricted root growth, poor crop establishment, and an early onset of moisture stress.
  • Hot and dry weather during pollination which will be pushed back later into the summer due to delayed planting. This year, the corn crop may be planted during a narrow window which would elevate the risk of adverse weather impacting a higher percentage of the crop than normal.
  • Prolonged periods of hot and dry weather in July and August accompanied by warmer than normal nighttime temperatures. The high daytime temperatures could result in moisture stress and the nigh nighttime temperatures could result in increased dark respiration which lowers yields.
  • An earlier than normal frost and quick end to the growing season.