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Corn Yield Debate - Weather vs. Technology

Corn Yield Debate - Weather vs. Technology

By Andi Anderson

A recent debate has arisen regarding the rate of growth in the U.S. average corn yield. Some analysts argue that the trajectory of corn yield has flattened since 2013, hinting at a potential slowdown in technological advancements within the agricultural sector.

The researchers from the University of Illinois have employed a crop weather model to delve into this matter. Contrary to popular belief, their analysis found no substantial evidence of a significant trend change. Instead, they suggest that the deceleration in corn yield growth may be attributed to unfavorable weather conditions rather than a decline in technological innovation.

Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, underscores the dominance of weather patterns in influencing annual corn yields. The crop weather model, developed by Irwin, takes into account both technological advancements and various weather variables such as planting time, precipitation, and temperature. Through this approach, it isolates the impact of weather fluctuations on yield variations.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time that discussions surrounding the trajectory of corn yields have ignited controversy. Similar debates arose in the 1960s and 1990s, following periods of exceptional yield increases. In hindsight, observers tended to attribute these gains solely to technological advancements, overlooking the significant role of favorable weather conditions.

For the current year, Irwin's crop weather model predicts a U.S. average corn yield of 182.1 bushels per acre. However, Irwin notes that this estimate may require adjustments based on late planting data, which will be available after May 20. The weather model will incorporate this information and continue to refine yield projections as weather conditions evolve throughout the season.

For insights on this topic, readers can visit the farmdoc Daily website and access Scott Irwin's article titled "Is the Trend Rate of Growth in the U.S. Average Corn Yield Slowing?"

The ongoing debate underscores the intricate interplay between weather patterns and technological advancements in shaping U.S. corn yield trends, emphasizing the importance of ongoing research and analysis in the agricultural sector.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-dszc

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Categories: Illinois, Crops, Corn, Weather

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