Late Season Crop Challenges Remain

August 22, 2016


Even though we are getting fairly late into the growing season, some crop challenges remain. The very wet and warm growing season in much of the Midwest has been very favorable for the development of corn and soybean diseases. Some of these diseases that occur before plants reach maturity can cause plants to die-down earlier than normal, which can ultimately reduce yields. Root-rot diseases also occur more frequently when crops are continually in saturated soil conditions. This can cause lead to more frequent lodging, as crops reach maturity.

Another issue in portions of Minnesota and surrounding States has been the numerous severe storms that have occurred in August with strong winds, hail, and very high rainfall amounts. These storms can lead to late season crop yield loss, in addition to yield losses from late planting and drown-out damage earlier in the growing season. The severe storms have also caused property damage to houses, buildings, and grain bins on farms and in rural communities at some locations.

As of July 31, USDA rated the condition of the nation’s corn crop at 76 percent good-to-excellent, with 72 percent of the U.S. soybean crop at that high rating. The July 31 crop ratings in 2016 were the highest for corn since 2014, and for soybeans since 1994. These were the crop ratings that were used for the important August 12 USDA Crop Report, which projected record national yields for both corn and soybeans. As of August 15, USDA still had the U.S. corn crop rated at 74 percent good-to-excellent, and the 2016 soybean crop at 72 percent good-to-excellent, which compares to 72 percent for corn and 63 percent for soybeans in mid-August in 2015.

Based on the August 12 USDA Report, the 2016 U.S. corn yield is estimated at 175.1 bushels per acre, which was an increase of 7 bushels per acre from the July estimate, and 4.1 bushels per acre above the previous record corn yield in 2014. The 2016 U.S. soybean yield is now estimated at 48 bushels per acre.

Minnesota’s 2016 corn yield is estimated at 184 bushels per acre, which would be the second highest in history, trailing only last year’s State average yield of 188 bushels per acre. Minnesota’s soybean yield for this year is projected at 47 bushels per acre, which only trails the 2015 record average yield of 50 bushels per acre. Iowa is estimated to have record yields in 2016 for both corn and soybeans, with the corn yield estimated at 197 bushels per acre, and the State soybean yield at 57 bushels per acre.

Some private crop experts are questioning whether these lofty 2016 corn and soybean yields, both nationally and in some individual States, can reach these high expectations. As was pointed out earlier, there have been some late season weather and crop disease challenges in portions of the upper Midwest, while some other areas of the Corn Belt turned quite dry in August.

Apparently the grain traders at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) somewhat agree with this analogy. There was an expectation that corn and soybeans futures prices would drop sharply following the projected record crop yields in the August 12 USDA Crop Report, and the much higher ending stocks that were forecast for the 2016-17 crop marketing year. However, CBOT grain futures basically traded in “sideways” manner following the August 12 reports, which would seem to indicate that the grain trade is somewhat skeptical of the forecasted high yields.

History has shown that the final U.S. corn and soybean yields can vary considerably from the mid-August USDA Report to the final yield results, which are usually released in January, following the completion of harvest. USDA uses plant population counts, crop conditions, crop maturity, ear counts, kernel rows, pod counts, etc., as of August 1 to make the U.S. crop yield estimates for the mid-August Crop Report.

Since 1990, the average variation in the U.S. corn yield from August USDA Report to the final yield the following January has been over 5.5 bushels per acre. In 15 years the final yield was higher than the August yield, and in 10 years it was lower, with one year being the same. The average variation in the final U.S. soybean yield from the August Report has been close to 2 bushels per acre. Very similar to corn, the August yield was too low in 16 years, and too high in 10 years. It will be interesting to see how 2016 final yields compare to the August 12 USDA Report.


Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and

Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN.  (Phone — (507) 381-7960);

              E-mail —


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