Corn Project 2019

AgMarket.Net, Farm Division of John Stewart and Associates (JSA), John Stewart Corporate and private investors completed a private project that set out to determine both unharvestable corn acres and the health of the crop by categorizing observed corn into four categories: good, poor, very poor and unharvestable. This study encompassed 5 states taking Hi Res and Ultra High Res pictures in the RGB bands every 25 miles in 3-4 passes per state and observing more than 157,000 acres from a time period of the week before July 4th in the western belt and the week post July 4th in eastern belt. The equipment, provided by, was sophisticated enough to allow analysts to count stalks and populations to determine yield potential.

There is no doubt that interpretation of this data is subjective and assigning a production estimate is difficult. We consulted with Dr Scott Irwin at the University of Illinois in order to determine a consistent approach to identifying categories and to develop a formula that would assign premium yield to good crops and discounted yield to poor crops (Ref: US YIELD FORECASTING USING CROP CONDITION RATINGS by Fernanda de Barros Dias, Page 141 Level of Coefficients for Corn). We also spoke with a seed company as well as Dr. Nafziger and Dr. Nielsen, Purdue University regarding how to handle corn that might not make black layer.

To view all the images for yourself, we have GPS anchored images onto an interactive map. Click here to view the interactive photos

We believe the US corn industry has developed tremendous technology in LDP equipment and in seed genetics. However, given the scope of the adversity across the 5 state area, we expect the US harvested acres will fall to 79.618 ma or 89.46% of the planted acres versus a historical norm of 92%. Based on our observations we feel the national average yield has the potential to be 156.06 bpa given ideal weather. However, many areas in the eastern belt will require that fall temps remain very warm well beyond normal frost dates. When viewing these pictures, note the eastern belt was filmed July 8-12 and the lack of maturity is very concerning.

Example: C IN – This picture was taken July 8th.

This corn is between emergence and shin tall and is likely to either produce a significantly reduced yield, or only make silage. Due to our ability to estimate population, we still rate this field as farily good. Thus it will take ideal weather for our estimate to be achieved.

In order to give our project a consistent logical path for results, we compared several yield-map studies to aerial pictures. Our “good” category would then represent all shades of green that you would typically see on a yield map. We would then take the premium yield to trend that these areas produce and use a weighted average against the areas we’ve identified as poor or very poor.

Following are 3 examples of how we rated a field. Note that the areas we are rating as good are not as good as normal. Thus we believe our yield projection is biased toward the assumption of achieving good finishing weather in 2019 crop.

This is a good example of how we could better evaluate the field as a whole. The next 3 pictures keep zooming into this field (photo taken last week)


The consequences of the expected losses in the 2019 corn crop may have a significant impact on regional areas of the United States. Moving supply around the United States as well as importing corn from other sources may be required just to meet a demand level that is already rationed. Opportunities to originate corn in supply abundant states and moving corn into geographic corn deficit states, or to the SE where deficits are normal are being evaluated daily by the JSA corporate staff. Basis values are starting to react to the possibility of an epic failure in the eastern belt and end users are and should be preparing to source a reliable supply. Further complicating this situation is the fact that if the corn we have identified as unlikley to make black layer fails to reach matuity, the possiblity of aflatoxin and other quality problems can occure. Thus end users and grain handlers are working closly with JSA as they strategize and take this into consideration. Farmers also need to address the logistics of harveting a wet crop in a timley fashion, understanding the challenges of storing poor quality grain, and know how to blend off bins. Farmers are using AgMarket.Net consultants to evaluate and optimize their risk management plans, to make sure marketing commitments are flexible and not putting added peril in case of the inability to deliver.

AgMarket.Net 844 4Ag-Mrkt (844-424-6758)
John Stewart and Associates Corporate 877-842-2777
AirScout.Com 219-808-7594

Click here to view the interactive photos