Hot and Dry Weather Tees Up a Tense July in the US Corn Belt

The heat wave in the US Corn Belt, which has been credited with aiding crop development after this year’s soggy spring, now risks impacting the recently emerged seedlings ahead of pollination.

Extreme heat and inadequate soil moisture during next month’s critical pollination period can result in reduced kernel sets, suppressing yield. And last week’s US corn yield decline, according to the Gro US Corn Yield Forecast Model, suggests that early season heat and dryness is starting to take a toll on the crop.

The Gro US Corn Yield Forecast Model Gro estimates in-season yields on a daily basis using spatially explicit weather, vegetative health, and soil data to monitor environmental and crop conditions during the growing season and continuously forecast final yield.

As the hot and dry weather depletes topsoil moisture, the potential for rapid drought intensification increases.

Through June, temperatures for the Corn Belt as a whole have generally been running above the 20-year mean, according to Gro’s Climate Anomalies model. For instance, in Grant, Indiana, temperatures during June have averaged over 6°C versus the 20-year mean.

The good news is that the Midwest’s GFS weather forecast for the next seven days features moderating temperatures. But little rain is in the forecast, and pockets of the Corn Belt are exceptionally dry, as seen in this Gro display.

This season any declines in US corn production or tightening of the US corn balance sheet could prove problematic because the Russia-Ukraine war has squeezed global supplies.  Also, acres planted to US corn were already slated to drop by 4% year-over-year to the lowest level since 2019 because farmers opted to plant less fertilizer-intensive crops.

Domestically, evidence of strong demand for corn is building. Last week, the July-September corn spread moved to an 80-cent inverse, as reflected in Gro’s Futures Spread Application. View this Gro display for various spot basis levels across the Midwest.

As of June 19, the US corn crop was 95% emerged, up 7 points from the previous week, and in line with the five-year average.

Throughout this US corn growing season, Gro Intelligence will be providing data and analytics to help subscribers get ahead of corn production issues.