Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Corn Yield Prediction Model Uses Simple Measurements at a Specific Growth Stage

The ability to predict corn yields would benefit farmers as they plan the sale of their crops and biofuel industries as they plan their operations.

A new study published in the July-August issue of Agronomy Journal describes a robust model that uses easily obtained measurements, such as plant morphology and precipitation, collected specifically at the silking growth stage of the plant. The new model could help both growers and industry maximize their profits and efficiency.

Photo courtesy of Spyridon Mourtzinis.
Measuring the stem diameter of corn crops.

Forecasting crop yield can be extremely useful for farmers. If they have an idea of the amount of yield they can expect, they can contract their corn prior to harvest, often securing a more competitive price than if they were to wait until after harvest. Likewise, industry can benefit from yield predictions by better planning the logistics of their business. But dependable forecasts can be difficult to find.

Several methods of predicting and modeling crop yields have been used in the past with varying success. Statistical models often don’t take into account characteristics of the plants, the weather, or the management practices limiting their usefulness. Some models are based on information from just a single year or location.

“When you develop a model using single location or year data, it will have limited practical applications,” explains Spyridon Mourtzinis, lead author of the study. “You don’t include variability from multiple environments.”

The new study from Mourtzinis and his co-authors from Auburn University found a more robust model for predicting both corn grain and stover yield. The model uses equations calculated with information about nitrogen fertilization rates, precipitation, and plant morphology, such as plant height, stem diameter, height of the first ear, number of forming ears, and plant population.

“Previous attempts were mainly looking at weather factors,” says Francisco Arriaga, co-author of the study and now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “This approach has other factors included in the model, and that is an important strength.”

The timing of the measurements is also an important aspect of the model. Mourtzinis took weekly measurements from over 100 plots throughout the growing season to find the best window during which to collect data to be used in the equations. The time-consuming work paid off.

“We looked at all the vegetative states to see which one was best, and it turned out to be the R1 growth stage,” explains Arriaga. “Other models tried to take measurements earlier, but that may be why they had poor results. Things change as the season goes by, and the stage we found was the critical one.”

The R1 or silking growth stage, when silks are first visible outside the husks, is about two to two and half months before harvest. This model, then, would provide predictions early enough to affect crop prices and to allow industries to plan their operations. While even earlier predictions might be possible, they would depend on better forecasting of weather, which can greatly affect yields. Weather changes significantly throughout the growing season, and current forecasts are not dependable.

Another reason that the new model is robust is because data was collected at two different sites in Alabama over three years. The equations used in the current model, then, translated over six sets of data suggesting that it could be used in a variety of environments. Whether that is true is a goal of future experiments.

“It would be interesting to test the equations across a lot more environments now that we know which growth stage to target,” says Arriaga.

Future studies will also test the model with other corn hybrids and management practices. As more data is collected from a variety of environments and growing conditions, the authors are hopeful that the model will continue to be an accurate predictor of corn yield.

“We need to be open-minded,” says Mourtzinis. “The equations might change a bit when we get more data from more environments, but I think we can build on the current model.”

View the abstract at

To obtain a copy of the complete article, please contact Madeline Fisher at 608-268-3973, or Caroline Schneider at 608-268-3976,

Spyridon Mourtzinis
The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at

A peer-reviewed international journal of agriculture and natural resource sciences, Agronomy Journal is published six times a year by the American Society of Agronomy, with articles relating to original research in soil science, crop science, agroclimatology and agronomic modeling, production agriculture, and software. For more information visit:

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), is a scientific society helping its 8,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.

Madeline Fisher | Newswise
Further information:

Further reports about: Agronomy Stage Acting biofuel industries crop yield growing season

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Algorithm could streamline harvesting of hand-picked crops
13.03.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht A global conflict: agricultural production vs. biodiversity
06.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>