Higher forecasted yields and an increase in planted acreage could drive US corn production to a double-digit gain from last year, according to Gro’s machine-learning model’s current prediction.
That’s a sharp reversal from the crop’s outlook early in the season, when June’s poor rainfall — the lowest for the Corn Belt in more than a decade — presaged a weak harvest, as Gro wrote about here. Precipitation rebounded in July, however, and total rainfall for that month was 24% above the 10-year average.
As a result, Gro Drought Index readings, weighted for acres planted to corn using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, have improved markedly. In addition, Gro’s vegetative health index is currently close to the record highs seen in 2018 and 2021, when corn yields in both years finished above 176 bushels per acre.
Still, the crop’s fortunes could tumble anew. Accumulated rainfall for the full season remains below the historical average, and soil moisture levels aggregated for all US corn growing areas are close to a decade low, as shown in this Gro Navigator display.
Weather conditions for August — the grain fill period when corn kernels develop — will determine if the current outlook for higher yields continues. Forecasts are favorable for the next week, calling for milder temperatures and moderate rainfall.
Extreme heat in late July stressed crops in some areas where soil moisture is especially low, including Missouri, Illinois, and parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Corn yields in those regions are projected to fall below historical averages. In contrast, crop health has improved in parts of the western Corn Belt, and yields are forecast to be above average, as shown in the map below.
Gro’s US Soybean Yield Forecast Model also currently indicates yields will be above last year. August and September weather has the greatest bearing on US soybean yields. Extended weather forecasts as the calendar flips to August are favorable for soybean pod set and pod fill.
However, acres planted to soybeans this season are the lowest in three years. Even if yields are higher year over year, US soybean supplies will remain tight in 2023/24, especially as global demand for soybean meal exports shifts to the US following a disastrous season in Argentina, as Gro wrote about here.
Gro x DTN Digital Yield Tour: Beginning Monday, August 7, Gro is partnering with DTN for the Sixth Annual Gro x DTN Digital Yield Tour to track how the US corn and soybean crops are progressing. The tour will present a field-level view from the DTN team, and a regional, global, and climate view from Gro’s forecasting models to provide comprehensive, on-the-ground reporting of national yield estimates. Read more about the tour here.
Gro’s Yield Model Anomaly tool shows Gro forecasted yields at the county level compared with historical averages. This map, for US corn, shows below-average yields (in orange) for Missouri, Illinois, and parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Above-average yields (in green) are seen in parts of the western Corn Belt.