Corn Harvest Outlook 2021 | Inputs & Insights | Corteva Agriscience
 9/17/2021

Corn Harvest Outlook 2021

Corn harvest

Two agronomists take a look back at the 2021 season and what we might expect for harvest this year.

This time of year, conversations between you and your customers are likely heavily focused on corn harvest. You’re looking ahead to the forecast and discussing topics like equipment prep and possible yield results.

It’s hard to predict exactly what harvest will bring this year, and there’s no doubt the coming weeks will look completely different from one location to the next. To get an idea of what we might expect, two Retail Product Agronomists with Brevant® seeds reflect back on 2021 and look ahead to harvest in their states.

Outlook From Minnesota

Retail product agronomist Doug Becher says it’s been a challenging season with significant dry weather concerns in his territory. He gives us a rundown of the 2021 season from his perspective in southern Minnesota:

  • Successes of the Season: One major success Becher notes from this year is how well Brevant corn hybrids performed, despite a tough start: “Spring planting started early, and temperatures were cold. This led to some corn taking four to five weeks to emerge. Even in these conditions, the Brevant products looked better than many competitor products during early stand counts. This can be attributed to the PST - Performance Stress Test that Corteva performs on our seed and an industry-leading seed treatment that is utilized on the seed.”
  • Challenges of the Season: When it comes to challenges, Becher says the markets caused major headaches for him and his retailers in 2021: “One of the biggest challenges that growers/retailers are dealing with this season are very volatile markets and input supply constraints. The commodity prices for corn and soybeans have increased and will continue to be volatile with concerns about drought impacts across the western part of the upper Midwest and plains. At retail, pricing volatility on fertilizer forced early contracting of inputs for next year.”
  • 2021 Weather: Becher says the weather also has been challenging: “Here in southern Minnesota, our season started out early with a cool, dry spring, which allowed for early planting of both corn and beans. The biggest worry during the season was drought concerns. The rains were very spotty across the area, and some areas just could not get the needed rains other areas seemed to get just enough to stay ahead of visual stress in their fields. Then, much of June and July were above normal for temperature and created even more stress in the drought-stricken areas.”
  • Yield Outlook: He says that dry weather could have an impact on yield for at least some farmers in his territory: “Corn yield across our areas will be all over the board. The areas that picked up the timely rains have the potential for some pretty good crops, and the areas that missed the rains may have some of the poorest yield we have seen for a while.”
  • Tip for Harvest: Finally, Becher has some advice for a successful harvest: “The one tip I would have going into fall is to be aggressive with the timing of the harvest. With the drought stress that much of our crop experienced at various times of the season, the corn plant will likely start pulling much of its stored energy from within the stalks to fill as much of the ear as possible. When this happens, it can lead to early stalk degradation, which can lead to stalk lodging and, potentially, yield loss. Harvesting the crop before this happens will maximize the crop that is out in the field.”

 

“Corn yield across our areas will be all over the board. The areas that picked up the timely rains have the potential for some pretty good crops, and the areas that missed the rains may have some of the poorest yield we have seen for a while.”  

 

Outlook From Kansas

In Kansas, retail product agronomist Brook Mitchell says it’s also been a challenging season, except his territory has been too wet instead of too dry. He gives us a rundown of the 2021 season from his perspective:

  • Successes of the Season: Looking at the successes of the year first, Mitchell says the corn yield potential is promising: “The earlier planted corn really looks good, due to the rainfall. We also had a good environment for pollination throughout late June into July. Looking at the ears that are developing, we have good yield potential.”
  • Challenges of the Season: However, Mitchell says 2021 hasn’t been easy: “It has been a challenge across the board. Early on, we were cool and wet, causing corn to get planted at all different dates across the territory. In certain areas, we faced heavy rains that caused higher levels of replant than normally anticipated, so, in turn, later planted corn. With that being said, the corn, in general, has a good look to it. We received multiple shots of rain in June and July that really helped the soil profile, but potentially could have effects on late stalk quality, due to loss of nitrogen by denitrification and the saturated soil conditions that we faced across the area.”
  • 2021 Weather: He says it was a very wet season: “Excessive rain caused some inconsistent stands and/or replant on corn. Rain is always wanted, but we would like it spoon-fed over the season. The late June through July rains — that have come in heavy and often — left the potential for nitrogen loss through denitrification. This could impact final yield and stalk quality. If the nitrogen isn’t in the ground, the plant will pull the reserves from itself to try to finish the ears up.”
  • Yield Outlook: As Mitchell mentioned, the yield outlook really depends on whether nitrogen stayed in the soil through the rain: “I would truly say we have the ability for average to above-average yield if the nutrients are there, as we had good pollination from what I am seeing in the field. So the rest is up to Mother Nature and what is in the ground to finish the crop.”
  • Tips for Harvest: Mitchell’s No. 1 tip is to do preharvest scouting with your farmers: “Take the time and get out with your customers, and keep any eye on stalks — checking fields for nitrogen loss and stalk quality.”

 

“I would truly say we have the ability for average to above-average yield if the nutrients are there.”

 

For an in-depth look at the harvest weather outlook, you and your customers can read this forecast from DTN/Progressive Farmer on The More You Grow on Corteva.us. The More You Grow is a blog for farmers that features timely agronomic content on a range of topics, crops and products from Corteva Agriscience.