Column: Crop Watch: Third Week of Dryness Cuts Soy and Corn Yields Again

Sep 07, 2023

By Karen Braun

Soybean yield prospects for the Crop Watch fields have fallen for a third consecutive week as the U.S. Corn Belt experiences one of its driest late-summer stretches on record, with corn yield potential dropping for a second straight week.

None of the 22 Crop Watch corn and soybean fields received rain last week, the first such instance since the 22-field format began in 2021. Many of the Crop Watch producers describe this year’s finishing weather as the worst they can remember.

Crop Watch producers have been rating yield potential on a 1-to-5 scale with a score of 3 around farm average yield, 4 above average and 5 among the best crops ever.

The 11-field average soybean yield slipped to a season-low score of 3.77 from 3.93 the previous week. That ties last week for the largest weekly decline of the season so far, reflecting the impact of the recent dry conditions.

Only three weeks ago soybean yield potential sat at 4.16, tied for the season’s highest. However, 3.77 is still slightly above scores in the corresponding weeks for the past two years.

Soybean yield potential in Kansas fell a full point this week to 3 while beans in South Dakota, eastern Iowa and Indiana took quarter-point trims.

The average Crop Watch corn yield also hit a season low this week, falling to 3.7 from 3.8 a week earlier. The new score is slightly below the corresponding weeks in the past two years. Eastern Iowa corn was reduced by half a point while western Iowa and Indiana corn were each down by a quarter of a point.


The Crop Watch drought technically ended in North Dakota overnight as fields received 0.4 inches of rain. This week will remain mostly dry across the Corn Belt, though the past weekend’s heat will be replaced by more normal temperatures by midweek.

Crop Watch corn in Kansas is on track for harvest this week. Corn in Nebraska and western Illinois, beans in Indiana, South Dakota and western Iowa as well as both fields in eastern Iowa could be harvested within the next two or three weeks.

The Kansas producer has collected about 20% of his total corn crop with above-average results owing to early pollination on those fields. He also noted that irrigated beans in central Kansas look excellent, suggesting the summer’s temperature fluctuations were optimal.

However, less than 20% of the state’s soybeans are irrigated, the latest available government figures show.

Both Minnesota and Kansas corn are expected to be light on test weight. Many producers say crops have been pushed towards maturity too fast, though beans in western Iowa have held up better than corn in the recent heat.

The Indiana producer thought two weeks ago that his crops were set on moisture, though that was before the hot, dry period. The eastern Iowa producer said the heat, dryness and wind have been killing the corn plants too quickly, leading to poor stalk quality.

The following are the states and counties of the 2023 Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Kingsbury, South Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Audubon, Iowa; Cedar, Iowa; Warren, Illinois; Crawford, Illinois; Tippecanoe, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio. The North Dakota corn is in Griggs County and the soybeans are in Stutsman County.

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