DTN Digital Yield Tour 2018 - KS, MO

Day 1: Drought Drags Down Yield in Missouri and Kansas

Emily Unglesbee
By  Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff Reporter
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The effects of drought in Kansas and Missouri are clear, with darker areas displaying higher yields and lighter areas reflecting lower yields this season. See an interactive map here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/#/displays/26338 (Map courtesy of Gro Intelligence)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- In Kansas and Missouri, persistent drought conditions have taken their toll on statewide corn and soybean yields this year.

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.

Wednesday, Gro predicts an average corn yield of 140.96 bushels per acre (bpa) for Missouri and an average Kansas corn yield of 139.85 bpa. While both of these estimates are significantly below last year, they are higher than USDA's August estimates.

For soybeans, Gro has pegged Missouri's average yield at 45.16 bpa and Kansas' average soybean yield at 39.38 bpa. Both projections are near USDA's August estimates.

You can see specific comparisons in these charts: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Because of their real-time sourcing, the Gro yield estimates update daily, so the numbers at publication time may differ slightly from those found on Gro's website.

Drought has played an outsized role in these states' yields this year, noted DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson. "Eastern Kansas and most of Missouri have had a strong influence from dryness/drought farther south," he explained. "This trend actually began during last winter; for quite a while, drought conditions actually covered the entire state of Kansas along with Missouri."


Gro Intelligence's yield maps highlight where drought has taken its heaviest toll in Missouri this season. You can see the county-level map of both Missouri and Kansas here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Average corn yields range from 59 to 138 bpa in large swaths of the state, particularly in the southwest, south-central and northwest counties of the state.

Another set of Gro maps, known as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), use NASA satellite imagery to show how abnormally dry or lush an area is, using the 10-year average "greenness" index. These maps also show swaths of brown (far dryer than the 10-year average) across northwest and southwest Missouri. You can see the NDVI map for Kansas and Missouri here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Bob Birdsell farms in Gentry County in northwest Missouri, where Gro's yield map suggests average yields will hover near 100 bpa. He said corn yields in his area start from zero, as some fields were abandoned or cut for silage already.

"Heat and lack of rains have been our problems with corn and beans," he said. "I think we may make APH [Actual Production History yield], but that's 135 bushels. We have some corn that looks like it'll be 50 to 60 bushels -- it should be chopped for silage probably."

However, a slightly better picture emerges in a narrow diagonal corridor running from west-central Missouri up to the northeast corner of the state in Gro's yield maps. The far southeastern corner of the state also fares better.

Here, some counties caught timely rains, Anderson said. That moisture has helped push the corn yield map estimates in this region toward the 120- to 170-bpa range.

Kyle Samp lives within this corridor in Randolph County, Missouri, where Gro expects an average yield in the 130s. Samp called that "a little aggressive," given the wide variation in corn condition in his area, which suffered from a two-week-long heat wave during pollination. "It's a really mixed bag," he said. "The north end of the county is a garden spot. The south end is the worst crop since 2012, at least for corn."

Missouri soybean yields in southwest region of the state hover in the 20s and 30s, but move into the 30s and 40s in northwest Missouri. In his northwest county, a good rain could save some soybean fields, but others are already being baled, Birdsell said.

Like corn yields, however, soybean yields inch upward in central and southeastern parts of the state, ranging from 40 to 50 bpa.

Samp said soybeans fared much better in his section of north-central Missouri, in part thanks to their resilience as a crop compared to corn. "You get a lot more second chances with soybeans," he said.


In an unusual twist to the season, eastern Kansas is in far worse shape than the western half of the state. Gro yield maps for corn show yields ranging from 83 to 124 bpa in southeastern counties. See the county-level Kansas-Missouri yield map again here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

"The western part of the state got some relief from rains in June and July that fizzled before they could help out the areas farther east," Anderson noted. "This rain-deficit sector has had the driest summer since the drought year of 2012."

Those timely western rains as well as the Ogallala Aquifer, which feeds pivots in western Kansas, helped to push corn yields in the southwest corner much higher, to 142 to 211 bpa.

Likewise, soybean yields in the Gro maps sink into the 20- to 30-bpa range in eastern Kansas, but spike upward closer to 40 to 60 bpa in the west, particularly in the well-irrigated southwest corner.

The spottiness of some rainfall patterns over west-central Kansas this year is also clear from the Gro maps, with low-yielding counties sitting right next door to high-yielding counties. The NDVI map shows a similar clustering of green (lush) and brown (dry) areas speckling throughout western Kansas. You can find the Kansas-Missouri NDVI map again here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/…

Kyle Krier, who farms in the central Kansas county of Barton, was among those producers who caught timely rains this year, but he is acutely aware of the limited nature of his blessings.

"As far as corn, milo and soybean yields, they will be above average in our area," he said. "One thing to note, if you get outside of our area by 50 miles, it changes dramatically -- at or below average for the areas outside of that radius."

If you'd like your yield observations to be included in future stories, use the #DigitalYieldTour2018 hashtag on Twitter.


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 to our tour site at https://www.dtn.com/…

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: www.Gro-intelligence.com

To read the research white paper on their modeling system, go here and select to "Download the corn yield model paper": https://gro-intelligence.com/…

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


Emily Unglesbee