Favorable weather patterns led to bin-busting yield forecasts in Nebraska and South Dakota.
The DTN/The Progressive Farmer 2018 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, is an in-depth look at how the 2018 corn and soybean crop is progressing using Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data.
Gro forecasts Nebraska corn farmers will harvest an average 191.33 bushels per acre, while South Dakota growers will harvest an average 160.25 bpa. Both estimates are higher than last year’s totals, but slightly below USDA’s August estimates.
On soybeans, Gro expects a state average of 59.36 bpa in Nebraska and 47.09 bpa in South Dakota. Like corn, both estimates are higher than last year, but lower than USDA’s most recent forecasts.
You can see specific comparisons in these charts: here.
Please note, Gro’s soybean model is in its first year, so there’s no comparison to 2017 estimates. Gro’s yield estimates on a county and state level update on a daily basis, so the numbers at publication time may be different than what you find on the Gro website.
DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said this year’s weather pattern has been very favorable to crop development in Nebraska and South Dakota.
“During the first and middle portions of summer, these two states were on the edge of oppressive hot and dry high pressure that covered the southwestern U.S., and were in line for active thunderstorm formation. There was severe weather, as well, but the large majority of acreage had favorable rainfall,” he said.
“In a large macro sense, these two states benefited from a stagnant far northern upper-air pattern, with a standing high-pressure ridge over the far western U.S. and into western Canada, and a trough over central and eastern Canada. The circulation brought storm-producing energy into the north-central states and helped to fire up the rain.”
TIMELY RAINS BOOST NEBRASKA CROP PROSPECTS
Nebraska farmer Randy Uhrmacher told DTN that every time the forecast called for a 10-day hot-and-dry stretch, at least four days turned out cool and wet.
“I’m not going to say USDA is wrong,” he said, referencing the agency’s 196-bpa average corn yield estimate for the state. Just this week, his farm received another 1.2 inches of rain, which he said was excellent timing for the soybean crop. “Maybe it won’t help the corn a lot, but it will keep the stalk healthy.”
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He said soybean harvest usually starts in mid-September. “The corn has been ahead of normal but is slowing down, making me think this is really going to be a great crop.”
Uhrmacher farms in the corridor along Interstate 80 that shows some of the highest yield estimates in the state, with Gro forecasting average yields above 200 bpa for nine counties west of Lincoln. You can check out Gro’s interactive county-by-county yield map here.
His operation spans Adams and Webster counties, where Gro forecasts the average yields of 204.3 bpa and 172.48 bpa, respectively. The primary difference between the two: About 80% of the land in Adams County is irrigated, while 75% of Webster is dryland, Uhrmacher said.
Gro forecasts Phelps County will have the highest yield in the state at 215.98 bpa. That’s despite a hailstorm that damaged the crop in early July.
Gro’s yield maps incorporate another set of maps, known as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), which uses satellite imagery to show how abnormally dry or lush an area is, using a 10-year average “greenness” index.
Nebraska’s NDVI map shows a number of hail scars in Nebraska, including one spanning the Platte-Madison County line and one in Cedar County. You can check the interactive map here, which includes a timeline showing changes not just over the growing season but all the way back to the 2011 crop year: here.
The company’s models incorporate this data into county estimates as areas where yields will be much lower than in areas with lush vegetation.
When it comes to soybeans, Gro forecasts the highest yield in Gosper County, just to the west of Phelps County, at 67.10 bpa.
The lowest-yielding regions in Nebraska are in the southwestern corner of the panhandle. Kimball County is expected to have the state’s lowest corn yield at 124.25 bpa. It’s higher than last year’s USDA county estimate of 82.2 bpa, which was also the lowest yield in the state.
Gro forecasts Banner County, just to Kimball’s north, will have the lowest average soybean yield at 38.98 bpa. USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service didn’t have enough data to publish a countywide estimate for Banner last year.
SOUTH DAKOTA MARRED BY HAIL SCARS
DTN’s Anderson said Nebraska’s hail scars are smaller but more well-defined than the hail scars in South Dakota.
“There are several big hail scars on the NDVI graphic — certainly in central South Dakota,” he said. A cluster of hail damage from mid-June contributed to Gro yield estimates of 110 bpa to 117 bpa in the hardest-hit areas. Yields in counties to the east of the storm damage jumped to the 130-140 bpa range. You can see it on this map, which is the same NDVI image as above: here.
The state’s highest corn and soybean yield prospects are along the state’s eastern edge. For corn, Gro forecasts only Minnehaha and Moody counties will break the 190 bpa mark, while forecasts for the rest of the eastern edge fall in the 170-to-185-bpa range. You can find the county yield map here, but please note, it’s the same as above: here.
On soybeans, Davison, Minnehaha, Moody, Lake and Union counties are forecast to produce average yields of 51 bpa or above. Gro expects much of the state’s eastern growing region will harvest between 45 and 51 bpa on average.
Gro’s lowest yield estimates are in the state’s western region, where there’s less corn and soybean production overall. The lowest corn yield estimate, at 61.17 bpa, is in Harding County. The lowest soybean estimate, at 24.11 bpa, is in Pennington County.
On Thursday, the digital “tour” will turn its focus to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. On Friday, DTN will hone in on Iowa, Illinois and Indiana before a final examination of overall U.S. crop yields on Monday, Aug. 20.
If you’d like your yield observations to be included in future stories, use the #DigitalYieldTour2018 hashtag on Twitter.
ABOUT THE TOUR
The DTN/The Progressive Farmer 2018 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, takes place Aug. 15-20 and provides an in-depth look at how the year’s corn and soybean crops are progressing. Each day, we’ll feature crop condition and yield information from various states, which include links to the Gro yield prediction maps for those states. Yield summaries are viewable at the county level.
The “tour” starts in the west, with articles on Kansas/Missouri and Nebraska/South Dakota on Aug. 15. Additional states will appear: Aug. 16 — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio; Aug. 17 — Iowa, Illinois, Indiana; Aug. 20 — U.S. totals and review. Readers should note that the Gro yield visuals are continually updated, while the DTN feature articles are based on the company’s yield estimate at the time the article was written. Numbers quoted in the articles may be different than those on the Gro website depending on when viewed.
To see all the tour articles and related DTN stories about the 2018 crop, visit our tour site here.
About Gro Intelligence: The New York-based company is focused on creating data analytics for the agriculture industry. Gro builds proprietary crop models that use satellite imagery, soil conditions, weather and other crop and environmental data to produce crop health and yield prediction numbers and visuals.
To learn more about Gro, go here.
To read the research white paper on their modeling system, go here and select to “Download the corn yield model paper”: here.
Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN