Main Street Data calculates a bumper crop corn yield forecast at a record 179-184 bushels per acre for the 2020 corn harvest, using its sophisticated weather-based model that is superior to NDVI alone. Using this weather-based model to account for changes in weather and soil moisture, particularly as applied to crop growth stages, Main Street Data anticipates this year’s critical silking stage to occur during optimal weather and soil conditions. These conditions point toward an unusually high yield forecast of 179-184 bushels per acre for the 2020 harvest, especially against the current USDA forecast of 178.5.

While some models employ NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) for the entire yield forecast, Main Street Data relies on NDVI only for the emergent stage, instead calculating corn yield forecast using a more accurate weather-based model, with sophisticated adjustments at each crop stage. Because NDVI measures vegetative health by viewing the canopy from satellites, it is inaccurate in bumper years; in fact, NDVI forecasts look the same – or even lower – in a bumper year as compared to a good year.

July very favorable for corn reproductive stage 

In July, corn transitions from the vegetative to the reproductive stage, during which time the need for soil moisture is higher. When conditions are poor, this phase can result in a far lower corn yield for the entire season. When they are favorable, silking and tasseling can occur at higher yield rates. This year, the conditions are extremely good for high reproduction in most of the Corn Belt, resulting in a Main Street Data banner year forecast of 179-184 bushels per acre for the 2020 corn crop.

Several factors impact that final bumper crop corn yield number

While July is drawing to a close, there is still much of the season left, and there are several factors that influence the final crop yield forecast. Because heat and humidity affect respiration rates during the reproductive stage, higher nighttime temps across the Corn Belt can alter yield forecast considerably. Alongside this factor is the speed at which the soil dries out in each region, as well as the actual locations that receive substantial rainfall. Main Street Data’s weather-based model accounts for these additional factors, with 30-day forecasts that are adjusted weekly.

Calculating corn yield using a weather-based model, MSD came within .1 bushel / acre vs USDA, in August 2019 forecast

According to the USDA, the corn yield for the 2019 season was 168.0 bushels per acre, during a tumultuous year in which weather, flooding, and planting dates factored heavily. Main Street Data calculated the corn yield forecast in August for the 2019 season at 167.9 bushels per acre, using the proprietary weather-based model rather than NDVI alone.

Formed in 2017 and based in Kansas City, Main Street Data brings precise data science practices to the agriculture world by applying sophisticated analytical instruments to massive amounts of field data. Main Street Data’s Progressive WeatherYield tool forecasts crop yields using a proprietary weather-based model.

Bumper crop corn

2020 corn yield forecasts by county, as of July 28

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