IV. Crop and Weather Conditions

Weather plays a large role in the corn planting process, growing conditions, and grain development in the field, which, in turn, impacts final grain yield and quality. Overall, 2016 was characterized by a warm, dry vegetative period (the period of growth between germination and pollination), followed by a warm and wet grain-filling period and harvest. This crop was similar to 2014 with the best crop condition rating[1] during reproductive growth (the stages from silking through physiological maturity) in the past five years. The crop had excellent yields, greater test weight and oil concentration, and less stress cracks than the 2014 crop. The following highlights the key events of the 2016 growing season:

  • Wide variation in temperatures and precipitation occurred in the spring.
  • A warm spring overall, accompanied by the variable temperature and precipitation, led to prolonged emergence that, on average, was earlier than the 5 year average (5YA) emergence.
  • Warm, dry weather during the vegetative stage encouraged rapid growth and healthy-looking plants.
  • A wet reproductive period with warm nights created conditions that led to high potential for fungal diseases.
  • Warm temperatures hastened maturity; rainy sites, especially in the Gulf ECA, delayed harvesting.
  • Overall, the weather in 2016 led to high yields, with high test weight and oil averages.

The following sections describe how the 2016 growing season weather impacted corn yield and grain quality in the U.S. Corn Belt.