By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter
DTN Farm Business Editor
ROCKVILLE, Md., and MT. JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- Aided by timely planting and good growing conditions, both Missouri and Kansas crop producers could be raising record or near-record crops this year, according to the second day of the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour.
Powered by Gro Intelligence and sponsored by CLAAS, the tour is an in-depth look at how this year's 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.
On Tuesday, Gro's models for corn showed a statewide average of 182 bushels per acre (bpa) for Missouri, just 4 bushels shy of a record, and 161 bpa for Kansas, a potential new record high. Gro's forecasts for statewide average soybean yields also came in above or near record levels in both states, at 52.2 bpa in Missouri and 48 bpa in Kansas.
You can explore the state yield charts below, keeping in mind that Gro yield models update daily, so numbers may vary slightly from those found in this article:
You can also create a free Gro account for daily updates to yield forecasts and real-time crop health monitoring across the U.S. here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/….
The industry will get a look at USDA's Crop Production estimates for these states Wednesday, but for now, the first two days of DTN's digital yield tour suggest that -- thanks to a better planting season and favorable weather -- a big crop is set to get bigger, said DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman.
"The first two days of yield estimates from Gro Intelligence look good for crops in the western Midwest and set the stage for possible record national yields in both corn and soybeans in 2020," Hultman said.
While a drier forecast for western Kansas could trim some yields there in the weeks to come, eastern Kansas and much of Missouri are set to finish the season well, added DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson. "Eastern Kansas and Missouri are in a more favored area for continuing shower and thunderstorm formation along with prospects for seasonal temperatures," he said. "In total, the final chapter of crop season 2020 is looking good."
To catch up, see day one of the crop tour, which also found record-level crops in Nebraska and South Dakota, here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….
Gro's statewide corn yield estimate of 182 bpa is well above last year's Gro estimate of 153.2 bpa, as well as USDA's 2019 final estimate of 155 bpa. The 2020 estimate is also nearing the state's last record corn crop, added DTN's Hultman.
"The yield estimate of 182.0 bushels per acre for Missouri is 4 bushels short of the 2014 record for the state but seems reasonable with good rain coverage across the state the past 30 days," he noted.
Missouri's best corn yields are concentrated in the northern third of the state, as well as the far southeast corner of the state, known as the Bootheel. Most of Gro's county-level yield estimates fall between 170 bpa and 190 bpa, with the top yield estimate landing in the northwestern county of Holt, at 202.7 bpa. Farther south, yields fall off, with Gro's lowest county yield estimate coming in at 132 bpa in the southwestern county of Barry.
As shown in Gro's NDVI map, which indicates the relative dryness or lushness of a region, Missouri recovered well from a wet spring, Anderson noted.
"Missouri's outlook has a solid link to an easing of very wet conditions during the spring season," he said. "That meant more acres available for cropping instead of being claimed as prevented planting, followed by timely planting progress. And, during the high-demand month of July for favorable conditions, temperatures were, in general, just a degree or two above normal, while rainfall was much above normal." Tropical Storm Cristobal also assisted by sweeping up through the Mississippi River Valley in June, he added. See the NDVI map here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/….
For Kyle Samp, the rains that soaked his ground in late July could not have come at a better time, after his operation in north-central Randolph County went nearly a month without measurable rain. "At that point, it looked like our crop was done," he recalled. "We were not only to the bottom of the ninth inning, but into extra innings, but then we got enough moisture that we'll be OK." The dry spell trimmed the upper end of his yields, but he suspects Gro's estimated county-wide average of 168.1 bpa will play out.
"On my acres, I'd say it's too low," he said. "But for the county, it's probably not too far off."
At 52 bpa, Gro's average statewide yield estimate for Missouri soybean production this year "is a candidate to pass the old record of 49.5 bushels from 2017," Hultman pointed out. It's also a big jump from last year's rain-soaked season average yield of 45.5 bpa from Gro and 46 bpa from USDA.
As with corn yields, the state's best beans are found in the upper half, particularly in the northwestern and northeastern corners of the state, with another bright spot stretching along the Missouri River from just east of Kansas City to Columbia. In these areas, Gro's models show soybean yields ranging from 52 to 60 bpa, with a top-yield award going to Atchison County, at 60.6 bpa. Elsewhere, yields fall between 40 and 50 bpa, with the lowest yield estimate landing in Laclede County, at 40.7 bpa.
Soybeans in Samp's region are thriving from recent flushes of rainfall, blooming and packing on pods in what seems like a matter of days, he said. He suspects Gro's estimate of 50.4 bpa for his county is too low. "We've gotten all the moisture we needed when it really mattered on beans," he said. "There is a lot of potential for a big soybean crop if we can finish it out."
Garden City is aptly named, at least this year, and could help Kansas break its corn-yield record of 149 bpa set in 2014.
While Gro Intelligence pegs the state average corn yield at 161 bpa, the state's southwest corner sports some of the highest yield estimates in the state. Finney County, where Garden City is located, is estimated at 189.3 bpa. Yields increase heading south to the Oklahoma border, with Meade County boasting the state's highest county average at 208.2 bpa. The state's lowest yields of 120 bpa and 114 bpa can be found in Logan County, just two counties north of Garden City, and Allen County, in the state's southeastern corner, respectively.
In the past two growing seasons, Gro's final corn estimate for Kansas has exceeded USDA's, with Gro pegging last year's corn yield at 149.9 bpa to USDA's 133 bpa. In 2018, Gro put the state's average yield at 138.3 compared to USDA's 129 bpa average.
Anderson said plentiful rainfall this growing season and cooperative temperatures at pollination helped give Kansas yields a boost. Crops also benefited from a very full soil moisture profile at the start of the year due to a rainy 2019.
"The high-irrigation area of southwest Kansas by and large shows the expected benefit of irrigation," Anderson said. "However, rainfall also played a big part, especially in the key month of July. Except for the northwest corner, Kansas had above- to much-above-average rainfall. This was a huge benefit to the northern and northeastern portions of the state where crop moisture is largely dependent on rainfall."
Yields north of Interstate 70 from Salina east to the Missouri River range between 153 bpa to 197.5 bpa. Gro's NDVI maps, which show how green or lush crops are compared to the 10-year average conditions, reflect the wetter than average trend, with much of the central third of the state showing up as deep green. You can view the NDVI map for Kansas here: https://app.gro-intelligence.com/….
Kyle Krier, who farms in central Barton County, thinks it will be a very good year for corn, especially dryland. A soaking wet July definitely helped. "At this point in time, there's going to be a fair amount of dryland that makes that 150-bpa area this year. The corn is basically made. We're there. We're dented," he said, adding that irrigated corn still has a way to go, but it has the benefit of water. Gro estimated Barton County will average 168.6 bpa.
On soybeans, Gro's estimate of 48 bpa would match the state's record, which was set in 2016. Like corn, the areas with the most consistently high yields are in the state's southwest and northeast, but unlike corn, northwest Kansas also boasts strong yield potential. With a county average yield of 64.3 bpa, Meade County again takes top honors, with many of its surrounding counties posting yields above 60 bpa.
Over the past two seasons, Gro's final estimates for soybeans have been closer to USDA. In 2019, Gro put the average yield at 42.6 bpa compared to USDA's 41.5 bpa. In 2018, Gro's estimate was almost 1.5 bpa higher than USDA at 44.4 bpa vs. 43 bpa.
While Krier is confident in the corn crop, there are more questions on beans. Gro estimates Barton County will average 49 bpa.
"We have an opportunity right now at probably 50- to 70-bpa beans yet at this point, but it better rain really, really soon," he said. All of the July moisture translated into a lot of vegetative growth, and it takes more water to support the plant. However, Krier said June was on the drier side.
"The thing that I think could save us is we have a pretty good taproot out there, so we can withstand a little extra. Instead of burning up today, we might have a few extra days," he said. He added that it's tough to see big plants with big potential but know that they could just as easily disappoint if Mother Nature doesn't turn on the faucet.
"We're definitely still hopeful, but remembering that we live in Kansas," Krier said.
ABOUT THE TOUR
Now in its third year, the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, takes place Aug. 10-14 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" started in the west, with the first day's articles focusing on Nebraska and South Dakota. On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the tour checked on crop conditions in Missouri and Kansas. On Aug. 12, the tour will explore yield estimates from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. On Aug. 13, we will move into the Eastern Corn Belt -- Illinois, Indiana and Ohio -- before publishing a final look at Gro's overall national yield predictions for the 2020 corn and soybean crops on Aug. 14. 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 2020 crop, visit our tour site at: https://spotlights.dtnpf.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. In addition to Gro and USDA yield forecasts, the Gro platform provides a one-stop solution for assessing growing and market conditions leading up to this year's harvest.
To learn more about Gro, go here: https://gro-intelligence.com/….
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