Here we provide an evaluation of the corn yield forecasts released during the 2016 crop season by the Yield Forecast Center. We compared our end-of-season forecasted yield potential against the average corn yields reported by USDA NASS for rainfed and irrigated production.
Crop simulation models are powerful tools to guide research, education, and extension as well as to inform policy making. Such models generally perform better under non-water stress conditions and it has been a scientific challenge to simulate crop yield under severe drought stress.
Traditional irrigation decision-making relies heavily on experience and requires frequent visits to the field. The process is time consuming and labor demanding, while the results are not quantitative and prone to error.
End-of-season yield forecasts for irrigated and dryland corn across eight states in the Corn Belt indicate above average yields for 2016, but not the record-breaking yields predicted by USDA in their September forecast. While two states are forecast to have yields below the 10-year average (-1% to -4%), the remaining states showed above average yields ranging from 1% to 21% above the 10-year average.
The Sept. 7 corn yield forecasts show a majority of the irrigated sites expected to produce above normal, but not record-breaking yields. Forecasted yields for rainfed sites are more variable, although most are expected to be near normal. Above average yields are expected for 11 of the 37 sites studied and below-normal yields are forecast for five sites.
August 24 corn yield forecasts for 41 sites across the Corn Belt showed many near or above average. At Nebraska rainfed corn sites there is a high probability (>75%) of above-average yield at the North Platte and central east sites and a high probability (>75%) of below-average yield at the southwestern and southeastern Nebraska sites (McCook, Clay Center, and Beatrice). In irrigated corn there was a high probability of near or above average yields for all except the Beatrice site. See the story for data tables and discussion.
Simulations of 2016 end-of-season corn yield potential for 41 sites indicate high probability of near or above-average yields in irrigated fields, but much more variability across the Corn Belt for rainfed fields. Several sites in southern and northeast Nebraska and in Iowa show a higher probability of below average yields. The article includes yield forecasts for each site, along with conditions for the period contributing to the forecasts.