While the big picture points to another east vs. west story, Baranick said that’s not the whole story. The weather has been so variable that even states with strong overall performance potential will have pockets that contradict the narrative. “
Dave Walton farms in one of this year’s gardens: east central Iowa. The grain and cattle farmer, who farms near Wilton, said timely rains have helped his crops flourish despite a recent week of extreme heat (temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Wilton planted about two weeks later than he wanted, finishing corn and soybeans in mid-May, but yield potential looks promising.
Insect and disease pressure has also been light, Walton said. He predicts that corn and soybean yields will meet and likely exceed the recent annual production (APH) history of about 240 bushels per acre for corn and about 65 gpa for soybeans in most fields.
Walton speaks to farmers across the state and country through his roles in the Iowa Soybean Association and the American Soybean Association.
“It looks like our place in eastern Iowa…and western Illinois…is probably as good as anywhere else in the country.”
Gro’s models agree. The best-watered regions of the country, a swathe of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, and northern and central Illinois, show the greatest yield potential. But parts of Ohio and Indiana look like a checkerboard, and a corridor along the Missouri River reflects a mosaic of precipitation and higher temperatures. The irrigated regions of Nebraska and Kansas stand out.
DTN Digital Yield Tour Releases State Yield Estimates and Detailed Analysis of Growing Conditions in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois on Tuesday; Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin on Wednesday; Kansas and Missouri on Thursday; and South Dakota and Minnesota on Friday.
Baranick said the cool, wet start to spring created a narrow planting window. While there is often a disparity in plant maturity between the Dakotas and Missouri, for example, “it’s almost as if the entire crop has condensed its growth stages.”
Gro Senior Analyst Jon Haines said the disparity in seeding conditions is shown in the model through the NDVI maps, which is among the lowest in recent years. But in other cases, it could be because the seed sat in the cold soil for weeks before germinating.
“The model provides a lot of granularity,” Haines said, adding that this spring created a lot of rich and poor. “It reminds me of something I’ve always heard: Variation is never a good thing for national yields. If there’s a lot of variability, it’s usually not a good sign.”
Crop estimates made in August are generally based on anecdotes and farmer surveys, and few private analysts are willing to lower their estimates so drastically, Osnato said, especially with the ability of August weather to make or break a crop.
Gro employs a completely different methodology. Its models are based on a wide range of public and private crop and environmental data, including NDVI, land surface temperature maps, rainfall, USDA crop condition surveys, crop calendars, planted and harvested acreage data from NASS, farmland data, US government soil surveys, weather forecasts, and much more. (To learn more about how Gro’s performance models work, read “Data Put to the Test” here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…)
This year, the data is not favorable. Land surface temperatures have been near record highs. The NDVI map is trending below normal, reflecting higher temperatures, planting delays, or some other combination of factors.
Osnato said he expects the USDA to cut its yield estimate to 177 bushels per acre, but believes the agency will wait to make any major changes until it begins incorporating field data in September.
DTN and Gro Intelligence partner in the second week of August each year to assess crop conditions in the Corn Belt. But this year’s planting delays mean the tour’s estimates are based on a crop that is earlier in its development, Haines said. That means this weekend’s torrential rains in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin could provide a big boost, not just to soybean yields, but to corn yields as well.
“It’s the data. Sometimes the numbers are slower” to reflect changes than a crop that just got a well-timed rain, he said.
While the models may take longer to reflect what farmers know on the ground, Hultman said Gro’s yield models put the big picture into perspective. Instead of a few samples and lots of statistics, the models include data from every county in the Corn Belt.
“I love the unique perspective this brings, and I look forward to this year,” Hultman said.
Email your own observations as the tour progresses this week to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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