Drought And Illinois Corn: Comparing 1988 And 2012

Many producers are wondering whether the development of genetically modified hybrids and the improvement in hybrid yield potential and stress tolerance has made the corn crop more “drought-proof” now than it was in 1988.

Emerson Nafziger, a professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois, said that as the drought worsened over the past weeks, he was regularly asked how this year’s yields are likely to be affected and how they will compare with the yields after the 1988 drought.

On August 10, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) projected that the 2012 Illinois corn yield would be 116 bushels per acre, an estimate that Nafziger said could still change. Projected yields range from 143 bushels in the Northwest Crop Reporting District (CRD) to 80 bushels in the East Southeast CRD.

In 1988, the average Illinois corn yield was 73 bushels per acre, and yields ranged from 87 bushels in the southeast (actually higher than the estimate of 86 bushels for this year in that CRD) to only 63 bushels in the northwest.

“The pattern of dryness in Illinois was very different in the two years, with southern Illinois relatively better than northern Illinois in 1988,” Nafziger noted. “In 2012, dryness was more evenly distributed, which led to a closer correlation between soil water-holding capacity and yields.”

To look at how much yield was lost to drought each year, Nafziger projected trend line yields for each of the drought years based on yields over the 30 previous years. The expected yield (trend line) for 1988 was 129 bushels per acre, and the actual yield that year was 73, so the loss was 56 bushels per acre. In 2012, the expected yield was 173 bushels per acre, and the estimated yield is 116, so the projected loss is 57 bushels per acre.

The 1988 yield represents a loss of 44% of expected yield, while in 2012, with higher yield expected, the percentage loss is only 33%. “In relative terms, the 2012 crop lost less yield than the 1988 crop, but in absolute terms, losses were almost identical for the two years,” said Nafziger.

It is clear that drought continues to cause serious yield loss, even with today’s faster-growing, higher-yielding hybrids.

“We don’t yet know if hybrids that have been improved specifically for drought tolerance will be less affected by drought this year, but it’s unlikely that any hybrid will produce high yields in areas and soils where most well-managed fields yield little or nothing,” said Nafziger.

Nafziger advises producers to take note of any hybrids that do relatively – and consistently – better than other hybrids under dry conditions, but cautions against overreliance on data from this year. “As we don’t know what next year will bring, we also need to include in our comparisons relative hybrid performance under better conditions, even if those come from last year or from 50 or 100 miles away,” he said.

“In other words, data from drought-affected comparisons predict best for drought conditions,” he said. “Because we have no reason to expect drought in 2013, we can keep this year’s results in the mix, but we should rely more on data from better-yielding trials to choose hybrids.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Seed/BiotechSyngenta Delivers Two New Winter Wheat Varieties To Eastern Corn Belt
August 6, 2014
Adding to its portfolio of AgriPro brand wheat varieties, Syngenta introduces SY 007 and SY 474 soft red winter wheat varieties. Read More
Seed/BiotechWater Optimized Seed Flowing Freely
April 1, 2014
As the demand for ag to diminish its water use while maintaining high yields and crop quality increases, three companies are leading the movement to grow more with less water. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer Applies For Seed Treatment That Protects Against Sudden Death Syndrome
February 26, 2014
If approved, ILeVO seed treatment would be the first product to provide breakthrough protection for soybean seedlings from the soil borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, the fungus that causes SDS. Read More
Seed/BiotechSeed Still Central
November 1, 2013
Advancing genetics continue to make seed the crop variable that calls the shots for the season. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

Syngenta
Crop InputsSyngenta Launches Plant Breeding Academy
October 1, 2014
Syngenta announces the release of its Breeding Academy, a global initiative designed to enable the continued development of scientists at Syngenta and beyond. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Outlook And Technology Conference Set For No…
September 30, 2014
Conference participants can expect to gain perspective on the outlook for agriculture and major fertilizer materials and inputs from industry experts. Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
September 30, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More