2016 was warmer and wetter at grain-fill than 2015, creating near-record yields
While the 2014 crop year had near-normal emergence rates, in 2015, emergence was earlier than average. In contrast, overall emergence in 2016 progressed steadily across the time period. The rate at which the corn plants were silking in 2016 was similar to 2014 and 2015, and all the rates were slightly greater than the 5YA. In contrast to 2014 and 2015, when rains mostly tapered off to maximize pollination, in 2016, rains were plentiful during grain-fill, resulting in minimal drought areas.
In contrast to the cool weather during the grain-fill period in 2014 and 2015, 2016 was very warm, inhibiting maximum starch accumulation. However, the heat during the 2016 period was not accompanied by drought, and was primarily caused by high night temperatures. Harvest progress in 2016 is similar to the 5YA. While harvest in 2015 had a slow start, it quickly surpassed the 5YA, in contrast to 2014, which was delayed by multiple weeks of rain and freezing temperatures.
Throughout much of 2016, the corn crop had a near 75% Good or Excellent condition rating, signifying good plant health, leading to greater than average photosynthesis, kernel size, and yield. This high rating was similar to 2014, which produced a record yield, and only slightly greater than 2015. In contrast, poorer growing conditions in 2011 through 2013 are reflected in the decreased 5YA, as shown on the graph. The corn crops in 2013 and 2011 were less healthy than 2014-2016, due to heat and drought. Additionally, in 2012, the severe drought and heat wave rapidly decreased the crop condition, starch accumulation, and yield, but increased grain test weight and protein concentration.