DTN Digital Yield Tour: Strong Potential for Missouri, Weather Threatens Kansas Crops

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Missouri’s corn and soybean crops are reaping the rewards of a summer of plentiful rainfall and seasonable heat, Day Two of the 2021 DTN Digital Yield Tour found. Across the border in Kansas, however, crops are trying to hold on to their early season promise of high yields amid developing drought.

    Powered by Gro Intelligence, the DTN Digital Yield Tour is an in-depth look at how this year’s corn and soybean crops are progressing using Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data. Unlike static estimates, Gro’s yield projections update daily on a county and state level, so the numbers at publication time may be slightly different than what you find on the Gro website.

    On Tuesday, Aug. 10, Gro’s models suggest Missouri could see an average statewide corn yield of 170.6 bushels per acre (bpa), close to last year’s 171-bpa crop. Likewise, Missouri’s average soybean yield was pegged at 49.7 bpa, just under last year’s record 50-bpa crop.

    In Kansas, Gro’s models — which have skewed high for the state in past years — are still showing strong statewide potential corn and soybean yields of 147.3 bpa and of 42.6 bpa, respectively. But developing drought in the state is clearly chipping away at this potential, Gro’s analysts noted.

    “The corn yield number has come down over the past few weeks as soil moisture levels in the state have dropped,” a trend likely to continue if rains don’t occur, said Gro Senior Research Analyst Kelly Goughary.

    To see Gro’s yield models and explore the county-level detail for each state, navigate here:

    The weather was good to both states early on in the season, noted DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick. But conditions started to diverge in June, when Kansas trended hotter and drier while the rains kept falling in Missouri.

    “In Missouri, the weather has almost been perfect,” Baranick said. “The state did not see any appreciable drought throughout the course of the growing season. Gro’s models with near-record (soybean) yield is not surprising to me in the least.”

    With dry conditions now stretching through the middle third of Kansas, and a pocket of moderate drought deepening in the northwestern corner, yields are understandably spottier in the state, Baranick said.

    “But showers may be more active over the next several days as a front slowly moves through the state through the weekend,” he said. “And the pattern next week also shows the potential for more showers. Some of those dry areas will have a chance to see better rainfall to increase or maintain yields, especially for soybeans.”

    MISSOURI

    • Corn: 170.6 bpa, on par with last year.
    • Soybeans: 49.7 bpa, on par with last year.

    Another record-breaking soybean yield and a large corn harvest could be on tap for Missouri farmers thanks to good growing conditions. Gro’s NDVI maps, which measure a region’s lushness or dryness relative to average conditions, show most of the state has received ample moisture to keep crops green and healthy. See the NDVI map here.

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    August is a critical month for soybean production, and — based on current field conditions and a favorable weather forecast for the rest of the month — Gro’s Goughary said soybean yields statewide could surpass last year’s record of 50 bpa.

    “It seems that is quite possible given where the NDVI is sitting today,” she said. “(Fields) are more green and lush now than they have been in the last 20 years.”

    It’s also possible Missouri’s average corn yield could increase from Gro’s current estimate, given precipitation in the forecast for the next several days that could help with grainfill. “More rainfall through Friday, Aug. 13, should be icing on the cake for filling corn and soybeans,” said DTN’s Baranick.

    Counties in the far northwest and southeast corners of the state have some of the highest-yielding corn, according to Gro’s yield maps. Atchison County, in the far northwest, tops the state with a projected average yield of 190.9 bpa. Yield projections in the 170s are common. Taney County in southwest Missouri along the Arkansas border has the lowest yield projection at 112.5 bpa.

    For soybeans, the northwest and southeast corners of Missouri again have some of the highest yield projections in the mid-50s. Parts of central and east-central Missouri also look good with similar production forecasts. Atchison County has the highest yield estimate for now at 57.3 bpa. Reynolds County has the lowest at 38.4 bpa.

    Kyle Samp, who farms in Randolph County in north-central Missouri, believes Gro’s state yield projections are accurate based his own production estimates and travels around the state.

    “It will be a real good crop,” Samp said. “My crop won’t be a record, but I’m comfortable saying yields will be above average. The corn is pretty well made.”

    Samp predicts his corn will average about 175 bpa, far less than his whole-farm record of 214 bpa set in 2014. Gro estimates Randolph County corn yields at 157.3 bpa. Samp said soybean yields could be in the mid-50s, compared to the county average estimate of 47.5.

    There were several rainfall events in Missouri over 4 inches through the season, Baranick said. If it wasn’t for some late planting and replanting due to this persistent rain, Samp said, yields would likely be much higher. Excess water also led to some stand and disease issues.

    “It’s hard to set a record because of the variability, but we could see individual fields set records,” Samp said.

    See Samp touring his crop fields and evaluating yield for the tour in this video here.

    KANSAS

    • Corn: 147.3 bpa, up 13 bpa from last year.
    • Soybeans: 42.6 bpa, up 2 bpa from last year.

    The Sunflower State started the season off with bountiful rain that saw the state’s winter wheat crop through to a good harvest.

    “No drought remained in the state by June 1, leaving crops a good footing to get started,” DTN’s Baranick explained. “But heat came in June and July. The heat did come with periods of showers, but they waned through July and pockets of dryness and drought started to creep back into the state as high temperatures sapped soil moisture,” he said.

    In his central county of Ellsworth, Josh Svaty has seen this pattern firsthand, as he watched rains skew westward all summer long. “Everyone was a little bullish as we headed into the summer, but in a bizarre twist, the western third of the state has caught some of the only timely rains across the summer,” he said. “We are so dry.”

    Gro’s NDVI map shows drought, marked by brown, deepening through central and far northwest Kansas, while patches of moisture, marked by dark green, persist in the west, and eastern Kansas remains light green. See the NDVI map here.

    This dynamic is also reflected in Gro’s corn yield model, where the best corn crops appear concentrated over the state’s largest and deepest irrigation district in southwest Kansas, and yields weaken considerably in the central, northwest and southeastern regions. In that southwest corner, yields range from the 150s up into the 190s, with southernmost Meade County hitting an average of 204 bpa.

    Another swath of high yields can be found in the northeastern corner of the state, particularly the northern tier of counties. Corn yields are spottier and lower in the central, southeast and northwest counties, where they commonly drop below 100 bpa and bottom out at 75 bpa in Ellis County.

    For soybeans, Gro’s yield maps are again strongest in southwest and northeast Kansas, but the spread is more variable, with county estimates ranging from as low as the 30s up into the 60s in those regions. Seward County comes in at a high of 63.4 bpa.

    Some of the worst soybeans are likely in central Kansas where Svaty grows milo, wheat and soybeans in Ellsworth County. There, Gro’s models expect 31-bpa average for soybeans, which Svaty said was a little high. “They’re still sitting on the knife’s edge; they will need some timely rains in August for these plants to even make beans,” he said. “I would guess my floor is 10 bpa and my ceiling is 20 bpa.”

    Wednesday, Aug. 11, the tour will explore Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. On Aug. 12, it moves into the Eastern Corn Belt, specifically Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. And on its final day, Aug. 13, DTN will publish Gro’s overall national yield predictions for the 2021 corn and soybean crops.

    See the tour’s analysis of crops in Nebraska and the Dakotas on Day One here.

    To learn more about the DTN Digital Yield Tour and Gro Intelligence, visit the tour’s Spotlight page here and Gro Intelligence here: here.

    Email your own observations as the tour progresses this week to katie.dehlinger@dtn.comEmily.unglesbee@dtn.com and matt.wilde@dtn.com.

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