2017 US Corn Belt Crop Tour

 

Midwest Yield Trends

2013 - 2016 Corn & Soybean Yields in the U.S. Midwest


Since 2012, many areas in the greater Midwest had county corn and soybean yields that have exceeded trend yields by a large margin, as discussed by University of Illinois’ Gary Schnitkey on farmdocDAILY. These areas include much of Illinois, southern Wisconsin, eastern Nebraska, Kentucky, southern Indiana, and southern Ohio. On the other hand, other areas have yield averages near trends. These areas include much of northern and central Iowa, Minnesota, and eastern North Dakota. More recent yield experience likely have a higher weight in forming yield expectations for the current year. Farmers in high yielding areas should be cautious of building in too high of yield expectations. Differences in yields will have impacts on financial performance.

For corn, most counties in Illinois had large positive deviations from county yields since 2012. Of the counties for which complete data existed, 61 counties out of 102 counties had county yields that averaged 10 bushels above trend. Only 1 county had the same average yield as trend yield (Iroquois County) and one county had an average below trend (Kankakee County at 3 bushels below trend). Other areas with many counties well above trend include Kentucky, southern Indiana, southern Ohio, southern Iowa, Missouri, eastern Nebraska, and southeast South Dakota. On the other hand, there were large areas with counties having yield deviations near average. These areas include northern and central Iowa, much of Minnesota, northern Indiana, and northern and central Ohio.

Avg County Yield Above Trend, Corn, 2013 to 2016

The 2016 U.S. corn yield at 174.6 bushels per acre was record high, and steeply higher than the previous year. In 2016, there were 5 out of the 12 key corn producing states that produced record yields!

Top U.S. Corn Producing States


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 RECORD
IA 165 172 137 164 178 192   203     203  
IL 157 157 105 178 200 175 197 200
IN 157 146 99 177 188 150 173 188
MN 177 155 165 159 156 188   193     193  
NE 166 160 142 169 179 185 178 185
KS 124 107 95 126 149 148 142 155
MO 123 114 75 136 186 142 163 186
OH 160 153 120 174 176 153 159 176
SD 135 132 101 137 148 159   161     161  
ND 132 105 122 110 124 128   158     158  
WI 162 155 120 145 156 164   178     178  
MI 149 153 132 155 161 162 157 162
U.S. TOTAL 152.6 146.8 123.1 158.1 171.0 168.40   174.6     174.6  

Record 2016 Corn Yields
Source: USDA/WASDE

Similar to corn, soybean yields have averaged above trend for most counties in Illinois, with 31 counties have an average yield 5 bushels over trend. Other areas with yields above trend were Kentucky, southern Illinois, southern Ohio, eastern South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas. On the other hand, much of Iowa had soybean yields near average. North Dakota, much of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and many counties of Michigan and Ohio had yields near trend.

Average County Yield Above Trend, Soybeans, 2013-2016

The 2016 U.S. soybean national average yield, at 52.1 bushels per acre, broke the previous year’s record, and amazingly all 12 key Midwest soybean producing states had state record yields in 2016!

Top U.S. Soybean Producing States


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 RECORD
IL 51.5 47.5 43.0 49.0 56.0 56.0   59.0     59.0  
IA 51.0 51.5 45.0 45.5 51.5 56.5   60.5     60.5  
MN 45.0 39.0 43.5 42.0 42.0 50.0   52.5     52.5  
ND 34.0 29.0 34.5 30.5 34.5 32.5   41.5     41.5  
MO 42.0 36.5 30.0 36.0 46.5 40.5   49.0     49.0  
IN 48.5 45.5 44.0 51.5 56.0 50.0   57.5     57.5  
NE 52.5 54.0 41.5 53.5 54.0 58.0   61.0     61.0  
SD 38.0 37.0 30.5 40.5 45.0 46.0   49.5     49.5  
OH 48.0 48.0 45.0 49.5 52.5 50.0   54.5     54.5  
KS 32.5 27.0 23.0 37.0 36.0 38.5   48.0     48.0  
MI 43.5 44.0 43.0 44.5 43.0 49.0   50.5     50.5  
WI 50.5 46.5 42.0 39.0 44.0 49.5   55.0     55.0  
U.S. TOTAL 43.5 42.0 40.0 44.0 47.8 48.0   52.1     52.1  

Record 2016 Soybean Yields
Source: USDA/WASDE

The FarmdocDAILY study draws 3 implications from the above analysis. First, yield expectations in the current year likely are more heavily influenced by more recent experience. In those areas where yields have been high, it may be tempting to building financial budgets and expectations on relatively high yields. Doing so could result in higher projections of incomes than are warranted. Farmers in Illinois and other recent high yielding areas should be cautious about building in high yield expectations.

Second, the comparison of above average yields in Illinois and near average yields in Iowa is instructive in understanding whether high yields are caused by technological change. The high yields in Illinois in recent years likely are not a result of technological changes. If technological change was causing the yield differences, Iowa would have had above trend yields as well as Illinois. Rather, high Illinois' yields likely are the result of good growing conditions. Over time, areas with good growing conditions will move around the greater Corn Belt, as has happened in the past.

Third, the above yield maps likely are indicative of relative financial performance since 2012. Overall, incomes have been lower since 2012. However, farmers in Illinois and other higher yielding areas likely have fared better than farmers in Iowa and other regions with near average yields. Again, weather variations can change from year-to-year, so areas with higher and lower yields will change over time.

USDA’s latest crop progress data, as of 7-May-2017, shows that recent rains have left ample moisture in the soil and this should aid early crop development.

U.S. Topsoil Moisture Condition % (7-May-2017)

2017 US Corn Belt Tour