July 10, 2012
Forecasted Corn Yields Based on July 1 Hybrid-Maize Model Simulations
Most Sites, Except Northeast, Dip Below Long-term Average Yields
The weather is hot, dry, and windy. Corn is pollinating in much of the state and growers are asking how the weather will impact potential corn yields for 2012. To answer this, we ran in-season corn yield predictions using the Hybrid-Maize Model developed by researchers in the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. This model simulates daily corn growth and development and final grain yield of corn under irrigated and rainfed conditions.
The Hybrid-Maize model predicts yields based on no nutrient limitations, no disease or insect pressure and an “optimal management” scenario. Hybrid-Maize is helpful in understanding how current in-season weather conditions are affecting corn growth and potential yield for the current year and in comparison to previous years.
Hybrid-Maize model can be used during the current crop season to forecast end-of season yield potential under irrigated and rainfed conditions. To do so, Hybrid-Maize uses observed weather data until the date of the yield forecast and historical weather data to predict the rest of the season. This gives a range of possible end-of-season yields. This range of simulated yields narrows as corn approaches maturity.
Hybrid-Maize was used around July 1 to predict 2012 end-of-season corn yield potential throughout the Corn Belt, including locations in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois (Figure 1). Sites in Nebraska include Holdrege, Clay Center, Mead, Concord, and O’Neill. Separate yield forecasts were performed for irrigated and dryland corn for those sites where both irrigated and rainfed production is important (in Nebraska: Clay Center, Mead, and Concord). Underpinning inputs used for the simulations include weather data provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) and the Illinois Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program (WARM) and site-specific information on soil properties and typical crop management (planting dates, hybrid maturity, and plant populations).
Corn Yield Potential (Yp) forecasts, as well as the underpinning data used for the simulations, can be seen in Table 1. The long-term, predicted yield potential based on 30 years of weather data (fourth column from the right) is then compared to the range of predicted 2012 corn yield potential (three columns on the right), which includes the yield potential simulated under the most likely scenario of weather expected for the rest of the season (median) and for relatively favorable and unfavorable scenarios for the rest of the season (75th and 25th percentiles) based on historical weather data.
In general, when comparing the median predicted yield for 2012 to the long-term, 30-year average yield potential, 2012 yields are trending lower than the long-term yields (Table 1). Below-normal rainfall coupled with high rates of daily water use due to high daytime temperatures, are the factors leading to the below-average yield potential predicted by Hybrid-Maize for dryland corn across the Corn Belt. An exception is Brookings, S.D. where rainfall has been favorable so far and rates of water use are relatively low compared with other locations.
In the case of irrigated corn in Nebraska, the model is predicting a median yield potential six to seven bushels below the long-term average irrigated yield potential at Holdrege, Clay Center, and Mead due to above-normal temperatures which hasten crop development and increase night respiration. However, this is not consistent throughout the state. Predictions of irrigated corn yield potential are only slightly below (Concord) or even above (O’Neill) the long-term average in northern Nebraska due to cooler weather.
These are simulations and again are based on optimal conditions for crop growth, that is, no limitations by nutrients and no incidence of diseases and insects. Nevertheless, they provide an idea on how in-season weather conditions can impact corn yield potential under irrigated and rainfed conditions. Last year, we saw a similar situation when in-season yields dropped off from the long-term average due to extreme high temperatures by late July and then climbed back up with cooler night temperatures and a long grain-filling period in August. These yield predictions are based on a snapshot in time. Actually, in the current 2012 season, there is still a good chance of having a near or above-average corn yield potential at locations where weather conditions are favorable during the rest of the season as indicated by the 75th percentile yields shown in Table 1. However, if hot, dry conditions continue through much of July, we would expect yield predictions to fall. We will follow-up with predictions later on in the season.
Patricio Grassini, Research Assistant Professor, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture
Jenny Rees, UNL Extension Educator
Haishun Yang, Professor, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture
Ken Cassman, Professor, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture
Table 1. 2012 In-season yield potential forecasts based on July 1 model using UNL Hybrid-Maize.
Soil type¶ & initial water
Long-term yield potential (bu/ac)‡
|2012 forecasted yield potential (bu/ac)|
|Holdrege, NE||Irrigated||Silt loam||32.4k||113||April 27||248||257||241||228|
|Clay Center, NE||Irrigated|
|Silt clay loam|
|Silt clay loam|
|O’Neill, NE||Irrigated||Sandy loam|
|Brookings, SD||Rainfed||Silt clay loam|
|Sutherland, IA||Rainfed||Silt clay loam|
|Gilbert, IA||Rainfed||Loam |
|Nashua, IA||Rainfed||Loam |
|Monmouth, IL||Rainfed||Silt loam|
|DeKalb, IL||Rainfed||Silt clay loam|
|Bondville, IL||Rainfed||Silt clay loam|
|¶ Simulations based on dominant soil series, average planting date, plant population (PP) and relative maturity (RM) of most widespread hybrid at each location (Grassini et al., 2009), assuming 100% available soil water in the top 40 inches at the beginning of the growing season. ‡ Average (20+ years) simulated yield potential (Yp)|