USDA is currently projecting near-record yields for the 2018 corn and soybean crops, but whether or not that actually comes to fruition will depend on nighttime temperatures here on out.
According to USDA meteorologist Brad Rippy, we might actually end up with a corn crop similar to those of 1995 and 2011. If you think back to 1995, the corn crop looked to be very good. However, despite how good it looked from the road it turned out to be just an illusion with a disappointing harvest.
“I remember that [crop] well,” Rippy told AgriTalk host Chip Flory regarding his memory of the time. “That is absolutely one that I would sort of compare to what we're seeing. Probably the one big difference is that we had a lot more flooding in the spring of '95. We weren't quite as wet in the spring of 2018. But in terms of these high overnight temperatures, that is certainly one of the top ones on the list over the past 25 years or so.”
If May is any indication of the remainder of the growing season, we could face some warmer than normal nighttime temperatures throughout the Corn Belt. This would hurt yields on both corn and soybeans, but particularly corn.
“As we move the heart of the corn and soybeans into reproduction over the next few weeks, will we time one of these heat waves with the heart of reproduction, especially for corn, that could be a big deal and it could cut into some of these really good early season crop conditions that we have out there,” he says.
This week, USDA gave the majority of the U.S. corn crop a good to excellent rating, but that could change.
“When we see these overnight low temperatures in the mid- to high-70s that does not let that the corn and soybeans really recover and rest at night,” Rippey explains. “We have seen several instances over the last couple of decades where that has cut into yield potential, especially for corn.”
Another recent year that the 2018 crop could resemble is 2011, according to Rippey.
“In 2011, we actually had some underperforming crops that looked pretty good, but when it came down to counting the beans and you know, shelling the corn it just didn't turn out that well,” he says. “I think a lot of that was attributable to those high overnight temperatures when we got stuck in the mid-70s to near 80 overnight on several nights.”
Despite farmer speculation, 1983 is one year Rippey is pretty confident 2018 won’t turn out like.
“I don't see that at this point to you know. I think the high temperatures the elevated temperatures will continue but certainly, there are no signs of the moisture cutting off at least in the next few weeks,” he says. “I hope that we don't pull off a 1983 because that was a disaster.”