Crop yields affected by temperature and moisture.

As we exit the dog days of summer, crop yields begin to take their final shape. Corn, because it originated as a tropical grass in Mexico, can tolerate very high temperatures for short periods of time – especially if there is sufficient moisture in the soil. But growth decreases when temps get above 95 degrees Fahrenheit for several days in a row, and prolonged periods of high temps can almost guarantee a lower yield for the season. And soybeans prefer even cooler weather, with 85 degrees Fahrenheit the ideal high temp during the day. Heat stress can cause lower yields in both crops, especially when soil moisture is lacking.


Nighttime temps also greatly impact final crop yields.

Nighttime temps, in particular, are important for both corn and bean crop yields, because when they are high – above 70 degrees – a plant’s respiration rate must work harder to cool itself off. By respirating so hard, crops expend extra energy overnight that ideally would be put into grainfill. The sugars produced by photosynthesis during the day are thus lost, with less available energy to fill the kernels and seeds. The end result is lower yield, due to lower grain fill during the reproduction stage.


Taking into account both temperature and moisture, Main Street Data uses sophisticated models to forecast crop yield.

Because Main Street Data’s weather-based model accounts for these critical factors of nighttime temperature and soil moisture, our yield forecasts are more accurate than the USDA and other competitors. Since June, Main Street Data has been forecasting a 180+ bushels/acre yield for 2020, with a more focused target of 183 bushels/acre forecast on August 5.

Main Street Data Corn Forecast 2020

CHART DATE: August 11, 2020

Main Street Data has forecast the corn yield at 180+ bushels/acre since June.

While competitors and the USDA WASDE have ranged from the mid-170s to low-180s, Main Street Data has forecast a corn yield above 180 for two months. Cooler temperatures over the remainder of the growing season are favorable for higher yields – and while low soil moisture threatens yield in a few Corn Belt states, the national seasonal forecast holds steady at 183.8 — a record year for corn yields overall.

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.


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