Nebraska: 2014 Forecasted Corn Yields Based on Aug. 30 Hybrid-Maize Model Simulations

    Grain filling is in full swing throughout Nebraska and the Corn Belt and black layer has been reached at some locations in southern Kansas. Since the last corn yield forecast two weeks ago, temperatures have been relatively warmer and rainfall has been relatively good across Nebraska and the rest of the Corn Belt. To evaluate, in “real-time” fashion, the impact of this season’s weather on corn yield potential, and its spatial variability across the Corn Belt, 2014 end-of-season corn yield potential was simulated Aug. 30 using the Hybrid-Maize model for 25 locations. (See details about Hybrid-Maize and its underpinning methodology to forecast end-of-season yields.)

    The Hybrid-Maize model simulates daily corn growth and development and final grain yield under irrigated and dryland conditions. The model estimates “yield potential,” which is the yield obtained when the crop is not limited by nutrient supply, diseases, insect pressure, or weed competition-conditions that represent an “optimal management” scenario. It also assumes a uniform plant stand at the specified plant population, and no problems from flooding or hail. Because weather and management factors are “location-specific,” Hybrid-Maize simulations are based on actual weather data and typical management practices at the location being simulated as provided by extension educators in each state.

    Irrigated and dryland yield forecasts as of Aug. 30 are shown in Table 2 and Table 3. Median irrigated yield forecast is within ±10% of long-term average in Nebraska, except at Clay Center (+11%). There has been little change (≤3%) in yield potential forecasts since Aug 15, but now there is a 75% probability of above-average irrigated yields at all sites in Nebraska but one (North Platte). Simulations indicate that corn has reached maturity in Kansas (though, in reality, it is likely that some of the longer maturities planted in northeast Kansas will continue filling grain for a week or so) with simulated yield 10% to 25% higher than the long-term median at all sites.

    For dryland yields, there has been little change since the Aug. 15 forecasts, except for a +23% increase at Clay Center due to good rains the past two weeks (4 inches) and a -11% decrease at Custar, Ohio due to a dry spell. Simulated dryland yield in Kansas, where corn has already reached maturity, is 7% to 29% higher than the long-term median. In the rest of the dryland sites, median dryland yield forecast is near (35% of the sites) or well above the long-term average (65% of the sites), with a high probability of above-average yield at 82% of the dryland sites. Late planting in 2014 has resulted in a high probability of early-killing frost during grain fill in the northern edge of the Corn Belt (Wisconsin and northern Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio), partly offsetting the positive impact of above-average rainfall and cooler temperatures on dryland and irrigated yields in the current season.

    Warmer temperatures the last two weeks have hastened crop development at most locations and slightly reduced the impact of an early-killing frost, as compared with the Aug. 15 forecast. Ultimately, the timing of the early-killing frost will determine the impact on yield. It is likely that at most locations an early-killing frost will occur late in the grain-filling period will have a relatively small impact on yield, but there is still a chance of substantially lower yields if frost occurs early, especially at northern locations. It should be noted that there are other negative impacts on an early-killing frost besides yield reduction such as low test weight, high moisture content, increasing drying cost, and combine losses due to stalk breakage and diseases. Also, excessive soil moisture at some locations, coupled with greater incidence of diseases, might have negatively impacted yield (or it will if wet weather persists the remaining of the season).


    Dryland and irrigated yields are likely to be well above average at a majority of sites. These forecasts do not take into consideration problems with stand emergence due to residue, hail/flooding damage, replanting situations, disease, or nitrogen leaching. While the risk of an early-killing frost is high at northern locations in the Corn Belt, the projected yield impact has diminished during the last two weeks due to warmer temperatures. We will follow-up with further forecasts in September.

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