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How low can yield numbers go?

The Drought of 2012 continues to keep a firm grasp on the Corn Belt and shows no sign of letting up. Significant/substantial amounts of deterioration in crop condition numbers will again be seen in this afternoon's report, drawing this year's ratings closer to those seen at around this time in 1988 (when the corn crop was rated at 18% good/excellent and soybeans at 20% good/excellent on a national basis).

Heat and a lack of rain in the forecast for the next week to ten days (at least) means that we will continue to see crop condition numbers fall, and thus national corn and soybean yield estimates fall as well. Wednesday and Thursday will feature a daily threat of widely scattered thundershowers for northern and eastern parts of the region before that activity is mainly for eastern and southeastern areas for Friday. 

The Wednesday-Friday time frame will be one in which significant rains (i.e. a half inch or more) will fall, but the activity is going to be so widely scattered that once again you will have to be "lucky" to get one of those rains. Most likely the coverage will be no more than 20%, leaving a lot of places with still little or nothing.

The only exception to that would be the southern three-fourths of Ohio, the southeastern two-thirds of Indiana, and extreme southern Illinois where the Wednesday-Friday time frame can produce rainfall totals of 0.50-1.00", locally heavier, with coverage of 50-60%.

Highs in the 90s will be commonplace across the region for most of the next ten days, but a lot of places will frequently be above 95 and certainly a lot of places in the west will see a number of days with highs at 100 or higher.

The big question right now is how low yield numbers can go. In my opinion, the worst crop years on a national basis (since 1970) were in 1974 (wet spring, July heat, early frost), 1983 (July/August heat/dryness), 1988 (spring/summer drought), and 1993 (floods). Based on the weather so far in this growing season and the weather outlook as we move into the second half of July, it is realistic to believe that this year's yield losses will be just as severe as those seen in those other four years.

Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. Des Moines, Iowa Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved

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