February 02, 2023

Guessing game: Agronomists offer predictions for 2022 national average corn yield

IVESDALE, Ill. — Where will the 2022 corn crop grow — and go? Those are the big questions that AgriGold agronomists attempted to answer as they submitted their national average corn yield guesses for the current growing year.

The AgriGold Agronomy Panel Yield Contest is conducted every year, with AgriGold and AgReliant agronomists submitting their predictions for what the U.S. corn crop will yield on average. The agronomists and their guesses cover territory from Kansas to Ohio and Minnesota to Kentucky.

The guesses, as Nick Frederking, AgriGold regional agronomist for southern Illinois, noted, also reflect what each agronomist is seeing in their own territory.

“I think what you find as you go, through everybody’s geography who puts these numbers in, it’s oftentimes relative to what they are seeing in the field,” Frederking said.

Before the 2022 yield estimates were revealed, Chuck Hill, specialty products manager for AgReliant Genetics, presented the traveling yield contest trophy to John Brien, eastern agronomy manager for AgriGold, whose territory covers Ohio and the eastern Corn Belt.

“John, last year, came closest to the USDA final number. The USDA number was 177. He guessed 176.4 and he hit it pretty darn close,” Hill said.

Brien’s optimism again showed through as he submitted his guess for the 2022 national average corn yield.

“I think it’s 178.4. Once again, optimistic, great start, good crop,” said Brien, whom Hill christened “Mr. Optimistic.”

But Brien pointed out that it isn’t just crop condition that goes into his yield estimates.

“The other part that fit into this as well is that we are down corn acres versus last year. That means a lot of those fringe acres didn’t get planted. Those fringe acres aren’t the best acres,” Brien said.

“In my world, if beans are more profitable to corn, they’re going to go to beans. So, a lot of those nontraditional corn acres went to another crop this year. That just leaves those higher productive-type acres available to plant.

“A lot of prevent plant in the Dakotas, once again, didn’t get planted. Those are subpar acres for the most part. If we continue on the trend we are now, there’s no reason why we can’t be above trendline.”

Joe Stephan, AgriGold regional agronomist for northern Indiana and southwest Michigan, may be challenging Brien for the title of “Mr. Optimistic.”

“I’m at 178.6. Some marginal acres were cut out of corn this year. I’ve learned not to bet against Illinois and Iowa. We are sitting on good acres, relatively good stands, relatively good situation. If you want to talk yield loss today, it’s been minimal,” Stephan said.

In the May 2022 World Agricultural Supply and Demand report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that the 2022 national average corn yield would be 177 bushels per acre.

Kevin Gale, AgriGold regional agronomist for northern Illinois, said hot weather and lack of rain in late June, tempered his optimism.

“I have 174.7. I wanted to say 180, the way my crop looks in Illinois. But based on soil dryness that we’ve had across a large part of the Corn Belt, high heat in the last couple of weeks, it can breed more heat and dry issues going forward, so I was a little bit lower than what USDA is saying,” Gale said.

Frederking said compaction issues, disease concerns and continued dryness through the rest of the growing season kept his estimate on the low side.

“I am at 170.3. I am not nearly as optimistic as ‘Dr. Positive’ here,” said Frederking, referencing Brien’s estimate.

“I saw a lot of root restriction this year. Nitrogen is a big component of these yields and accessibility, I think, is going to be somewhat of an issue. I see a lot of disease coming in early and right now, the forecast models are showing less than average precipitation. I think we’re going to have a little bit less than ideal conditions.”

Other yield estimates were submitted by AgriGold and AgReliant agronomy personnel who were not in attendance at the June 29 conference.

• Southern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois — Joey Heneghan, AgriGold regional agronomist: 181.9.

• Missouri — Jason Mefford, AgriGold regional agronomist: 175.7.

• Ohio and southeast Michigan — Mitch Greve, AgriGold regional agronomist: 175.1.

• Kansas — Kris Young, AgriGold regional agronomist: 175.

• Southern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota — Brian Ternus, AgriGold regional agronomist: 173.3.

• Kentucky — Whitney Monin, AgriGold national agronomy manager: 171.7.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor