Make Agriculture Great Again: Record corn yield and soybean production predicted for 2018

August 10th, 2018 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Today the USDA released its forecast for corn and soybean yields and production for the 2018 growing season. It is expected that corn yields (bushels per acre) in the U.S. will experience their third consecutive record year, with an average of 178.4 bu/ac:

The last time there were three consecutive record high yield years was over 30 years ago: 1985-86-87.

Soybean production is expected to be at a record high, and with a near-record in yield:

Clearly, the widely expected decline in U.S. agricultural production due to global warming has yet to materialize, as improved varieties and farming practices continue to push yields ever higher. Not only are the trends upward (as seen in the above charts), it appears both corn and soybean yields will have actually experienced 5 consecutive years over and above those upward trends.

Make Agriculture Great Again.

76 Responses to “Make Agriculture Great Again: Record corn yield and soybean production predicted for 2018”

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  1. Norman says:

    Now if only the farmers can find buyers for these record yields.

  2. Snape says:

    “Clearly, the widely expected decline in U.S. agricultural production due to global warming has yet to materialize, as improved varieties and farming practices continue to push yields ever higher.”

    Does this mean that corn yields have thrived despite rising temperatures and drier soils? No! (Therefore, I think the statement is rather misleading.)

    For example, in Iowa, the nations largest corn producer, Maximum temps in July have been falling and precip has been on the rise:

    July Tmax: – 0.2 F. / decade
    July Precipitation: + 0.05″ / decade

    (Climate at a glance)

    Here is an interesting, related article:

  3. This will not be the case if global cooling sets in.

  4. Curious George says:

    I like to see official numbers for corn and soybean yields. However, the sentence “The last time there were three consecutive record high yield years was over 30 years ago: 1985-86-87” introduces a totally artificial measure that reminds me of alarmist tactics. They invent artificial measures all the time, but we should not follow them.

  5. DavidA says:

    If if if if if.

    That’s about the only word Salvatore knows, despite at least eight years of failure.

    • Curious George says:

      The word “cooling” makes David Appell see red.

      • DavidA says:

        Just Salvatore’s unjustified use of it, and the fact that he’s been wrong for at least 8 years but refuses to learn a single thing from it.

        • Mike Flynn says:

          Judgemental, much?

          Must be a consequence of your 16 hours of journalism studies. Oh, the stress!


        • Mike says:

          Salvatore says it’s going down, David sides with those saying it’s going way way up.
          So far, they’re both wrong. It’s true, Salvatore doesn’t have millions of dollars worth of computer models – all failing every year. But he has his never ending belief that we are going into a cooling phase. So far, he isn’t right, but so far the models aren’t either. And when you think about it, the models are really the foundation of the global warming religion. So until either side proves themselves correct, I’m willing to give old Salvatore a little more time. Now David, have yourself a nice big meal – complements of our highly productive farmers.

  6. DavidA says:

    Roy of all people should understand what is a function of several variables.

    But time and time again he fails at this when it comes to crops.

    “For wheat, maize and barley, there is a clearly negative response of global yields to increased temperatures. Based on these sensitivities and observed climate trends, we estimate that warming since 1981 has resulted in annual combined losses of these three crops representing roughly 40 Mt or $5 billion per year, as of 2002.”
    — “Global scale climatecrop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming,” David B Lobell and Christopher B Field 2007 Environ. Res. Lett. 2 014002 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/1/014002

  7. Dr No says:

    “Clearly, the widely expected decline in U.S. agricultural production due to global warming..”
    I don’t think there is such a thing as a “widely expected decline”.
    The literature on this topic seems to be equivocal about the effects. For example:

    “As future forecasts are made about the impacts of global
    climate change on agriculture, we stress the importance of
    identifying the biological processes or management options
    that are most likely to be impacted. Previous assessments have
    stated that mid- and high-latitude corn and soybean growers
    may ultimately benefit from warming temperatures, but we
    argue that warming outside of the core of the growing season
    will be most beneficial to supporting higher yields”
    C J Kucharik and S P Serbin, Environ. Res. Lett. 3 (2008) 034003

    • DavidA says:

      “Corn Yields Under Higher Temperatures,”
      Figure 18.3, p 421
      U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2014 National Climate Assessment

      (but don’t look)

      • Mike Flynn says:


        Same authors as IPCC? What a surprise!


        • CraigT says:

          Which of the authors worked on IPCC publications?

          • Mike Flynn says:


            Why should I tell you if you are too lazy to look for yourself?

            Go on – demonstrate the courage of your convictions. Declare that I’m in error, and show facts to back up your declaration.

            Or keep trolling with puerile attempts at gotchas. Up to you.


          • Myki says:

            Definition of a “gotcha”:
            Every time Mike Flynn is demonstrated to be a fool.

          • Mike Flynn says:


            That would be precisely zero times, would it?

            Carry on.


          • Myki says:

            I think you (and only you) forever keep complaining of “gotchas”.
            You tell me the total.

          • Mike Flynn says:


            Oh dear! You seem reduced to misrepresentation. When have I ever complained about a gotcha? I may have pointed out, from time to time, that the composer appeared to be stupid and ignorant, inviting ridicule rather than acclamation.

            Why should I complain?

            Feel free to appear as ridiculous as you like. With sufficient effort, you might be able to rise to the level of bumbling buffoons like Schmidt (posing as a climate scientist), Mann (posing as a Nobel Laureate), Trenberth (what do I need to say), and the rest of the ragtag crew of second raters!

            Off you go now, maybe you can find some less ludicrous authority to whom you can appeal!


          • Myki says:

            Schmidt, Mann and Trenberth seem to get under your skin.
            Your continual references to them betray your irritation.
            Pity, they are far more qualified and intelligent than you.
            But then, so is every first year university science student!

          • Mike Flynn says:


            Why would the cavortings of a bumbling pack of self styled experts “get under my skin”?

            Are you completely mad, or just pretending? Maybe you coukd provide some evidence that the collective IQ of the persons you refer to exceeds mine. Your personal opinions don’t count, of course.

            You might provide evidence to show that Michael Mann is not suffering from delusional psychosis. This condition might explain Mann’s inability to decide whether he was a Nobel Prize winner or not. What is your excuse?

            Your mind reading abilities need a spot of attention.


          • SkepticGoneWild says:

            Funny how Mann claims to be a tree expert, when he has no degrees in biology, dendrology, botany, or anything related to trees. And then there is his embarrassing hockey stick graph, where he continues to refuse to release information that would allow anyone to test his results. And he continues to refuse to release public emails regarding his climate related work. He sued to prevent their release. So much for open and honest science.

            And Schmidt? He’s a mathematician, and has never taken a science course. We already know 1+1=2. What the hell is Schmidt doing as head of NASA GISS? Wow! You would think they would choose somebody with a science degree, like Astrophysics maybe? Wow! What a concept! So underqualified!

            Trenberth is a science phony. He made the claim years ago at a news conference that there was a definitive link between global warming and hurricanes, when the current science said there was none.

            You are picking from the bottom of the barrel, Myki Mouse. Of course, the bottom of the barrel is all there is.

          • Myki says:

            SGW, here is a simple task for you.
            Name me 3 denialist experts including
            1. their qualifications
            2. three of their peer-reviewed publications on climate change
            I bet you can’t do it.

          • David Appell says:

            SkepticGoneWild says:
            Funny how Mann claims to be a tree expert, when he has no degrees in biology, dendrology, botany, or anything related to trees.

            So wrong.

            Mann (et al) took the work of the tree dendrochronologists and used it (among other proxies) to reconstruct past temperatures. Their advance was mathematical, not anything to do with trees.

          • Gordon Robertson says:

            myki…”Schmidt, Mann and Trenberth seem to get under your skin”.

            They are all irritants as opposed to scientists.

  8. Snape says:

    “Roy of all people should understand what is a function of several variables.”

    Roy’s post is specific to the U.S.. Summertime highs in the corn belt, an important variable, have been decreasing…..good for crops. Precipitation has been increasing….good for crops. Winters are getting warmer (not sure if that matters).

    • David Appell says:

      Snape wrote:
      U.S.. Summertime highs in the corn belt, an important variable, have been decreasing….

      Do you have data on that?

      I find that, in Iowa, the average June-July-August temperature has a trend of +0.17 F/decade over the last 20 years, +0.16 F/decade over the last 30 years.

      (NO.AA data)

  9. Snape says:

    Also, warmer in spring and autumn makes the growing season longer…..likely a big benefit. Especially in the northern regions.

  10. ren says:

    The jet stream in the Atlantic continue to hinder the formation of hurricanes.

  11. Bart T says:

    Thank you, Roy.

    “Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future,” according to Yogi Berra. Regardless …

    Climate Alarmists made predictions. Predictions did not materialize. So, they found the “missing heat” buried deep in the ocean.

    Climate alarmists have made predictions. Hot, dry weather and extreme events will decrease crop yields. See website below, from 2014 (just before that unbroken chain of year on year increases).

    We find, “He predicted that at current levels of temperature sensitivity, crops could lose 15 percent of their yield within 50 years, or as much as 30 percent if crops continue the trend of becoming more sensitive over time.”

    So my humble prediction:

    First, our alarmist friends will find some reason why crop yields continue to increase.

    Second, our alarmist friends will furthermore explain that, in only a few more years, the offsetting, positive effect will disappear, and the crop yield decline will accelerate and make up for lost time.

    Just like that missing heat in the ocean.

  12. Snape says:

    Bart T

    From your link:

    “The data clearly indicate that drought stress for corn and soy comes partly from low rain, but even more so from hot and dry air. Plants have to trade water to get carbon from the air to grow, and the terms of that trade become much less favorable when its hot, said Lobell, also the lead author for a chapter in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, which details a consensus view on the current state and fate of the worlds climate.”

    As I mentioned upthread, the high yields we see do not contradict this claim, because the air in the corn belt has NOT been getting hotter and drier. Just the opposite.

  13. Rob Mitchell says:


  14. Rob Mitchell says:

    Freeman Dyson said that we would be crazy to try to do something about increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere because the benefits far outweigh the harm.

    I think I’ll take Dyson’s advice over snape’s, Myki’s, DavidA’s, and the rest of you global warming fanatics any place, anytime!

  15. Max Dupilka says:

    Unfortunately corn and soybeans are two of the most heavily GMO crops that have been modified to be resistant to Glyphosate (aka Roundup). Glyphosate has been suspected as a carcinogen by the WHO.

    A landmark case was just won against Monsanto and Roundup on August 10

    There are about 4000 other cases in the works.

    To each their own, but I would not use Roundup and avoid GMOs as much as possible.

  16. CO2isLife says:

    Dr. Spenser’s Blog Readers, I’ve written a post to address the Social Media Censorship I wanted to share with you.

    Comprehensive Climate Change Debating Points and Graphics; Bring It Social Media Giants. This is Your Opportunity to Do Society Some Real Good

    • ren says:

      I agree with what is recorded below:
      “Believe it or not, the real impact CO2 has on the atmosphere is to COOL it. That isnt a TYPO, CO2 actually has worked to COOL the atmosphere, and the above graphic proves it. The Greenhouse Gas Effect is measured by the amount of outgoing Long Wave IR measured in W/M^2. The Blue in the above graphic represents more energy leaving the atmosphere or a greater outgoing flux. The amount of Blue exceeds the amount of Red, so CO2 has actually worked to COOL the layer of the atmosphere where we can isolate the impact of CO2 on the atmosphere, the water vapor free Stratosphere. Even if the Stratosphere did warm over that period, there certainly is not a linear trend to the stratosphere, either warming or cooling.”

      • David Appell says:

        “Believe it or not, the real impact CO2 has on the atmosphere is to COOL it. That isnt a TYPO, CO2 actually has worked to COOL the atmosphere, and the above graphic proves it”

        What a shame he won’t submit his work to be published and reviewed by experts, and is so shy he can’t even write under his real name.

        • spike55 says:

          It is published. The address is there for you to see.

          ANYONE can go and read it and try to refute it.

          If they are capable.!

          You obviously don’t feel you have that capability.

          Off you go…… or not.

      • Dr Roy Spencer has refuted the claim, that CO2 is only cooling the atmosphere.

        Actually, CO2 is warming the lower Atmosphere, but cooling the upper atmosphere. It is the main emitter of surplus energy into the space.

        In the lower atmospere it absorbing IR radiation and heating the surrounding atmospheric molecules by instant collision.

  17. Snape says:

    David Appell

    I wrote this as an afterthought, and should have stessed the part about northern regions,

    “Also, warmer in spring and autumn makes the growing season longer..likely a big benefit. Especially in the northern regions.”


    “”Canada is one of the few countries where climate change may create some opportunities for growing crops in northern latitudes,” said Rod Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, a lobby group representing 200,000 farmers.”

    • David Appell says:

      Given a peer reviewed scientist and someone from public relations, I think I’ll go with the scientist.

    • David Appell says:

      The peer reviewed science:

      “Fig. 1 implies that warming temperatures
      have potentially off-setting effects, as they reduce exposure to
      freezing temperatures while simultaneously increasing exposure
      to extreme heat. To evaluate which effect dominates, we predict
      yield impacts for a range of uniform temperature changes across
      the entire Fall−Spring growing season (Fig. 2). All scenarios
      suggest that warming is associated with net yield reductions,
      implying that the detrimental effect of extreme heat is larger
      than the beneficial effect of freeze reduction….”

      — “Effect of warming temperatures on US wheat yields,” Jesse Tack et al, PNAS 4/20/15

  18. RAH says:

    It should be noted that these bumper crops are coming despite late planting in many areas in the northern region of the corn belt due to soil temperatures being too low and germination and thus emergence was delayed in other areas up to two weeks due to a dry spell after planting.

    Even with those factors delaying planting and emergence in some areas the old saw about “knee high by the 4th of July” became history long ago. It’s more like tassel by the 4th of July these days.

  19. Snape says:

    David Appell says, “Given a peer reviewed scientist and someone from public relations, I think Ill go with the scientist.”


    Why do you assume the two are at odds???

    Scientist: Effect of warming temperatures on US wheat yields,.

    Public relations guy: “Canada is one of the few countries where climate change may create some opportunities for growing crops in northern latitudes,


    Are you aware that Canada is not part of the US, and that the word “crops” refers to corn, soy beans, potatoes, etc.,…… and not just wheat?

  20. Snape says:


    What’s funny? How are the two in disagreement?

    The study you linked does not cover agriculture in Canada. The public relations comment does not refer to wheat yields in the US. Why do need to go with one or the other?


    BTW, Summertime highs are not the same as the daily average. Are you not aware? In Iowa, June – August maxima is – 0.1 F / decade

    And did you read this article?

    • David Appell says:

      And that’s all corn cares about?

    • David Appell says:

      “The United Statess Corn Belt is making its own weather”

      Yet another anthropogenic influence.

      However, the end of that Science article doesn’t sound promising:

      “This squares with a lot of other evidence, says Peter Huybers, a climate scientist at Harvard University, who calls the new study convincing. But he warns that such benefits may not last if greenhouse gas emissions eventually overpower the mitigating effect of agriculture.

      “Alter agrees, and says its unlikely that the large increases in U.S. crop production during the 20th century will continue. Other scientists have voiced concern that agricultural production could soon be reaching its limit in many parts of the world.

      “Food production is arguably what were more concerned about with climate change, Mueller says. And understanding how agriculture and climate will continue to affect one another is crucial for developing projections for both climate and agricultural yields. Its not just greenhouse gasses that we need to be thinking about.””

  21. Snape says:

    Canada extends to the arctic circle. You think agriculture there could not benefit from warmer temps?

    Here’s just one of many studies:

    • David Appell says:

      Is thawed tundra able to grow crops?
      Does it have sufficient nutrients?
      (I really don’t know.)
      Will northern Canada (boreal, now) be dry enough for crops?

      (I have read that thawed tundra will release a lot of carbon — about as much carbon as plants will uptake. They cancel.)

  22. Snape says:

    How about answering a question, instead of avoiding them ala Flynn or Huffman?

    “Why do you assume the two are at odds???”

  23. Snape says:

    “Canada extends to the arctic circle. You think agriculture there could not benefit from warmer temps?”

    That question was poorly phrased. I did not mean to suggest that tundra will be farmable anytime soon.
    Should be:

    “Canada is a large, generally cold country that extends all the way to the arctic circle. With this in mind, why do you think agriculture in parts of Canada could not benefit from warmer temps?”

  24. gallopingcamel says:

    Sadly, rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere failed to raise the global temperatures. We need the polar temperatures to rise by 18 degrees Centigrade to get back to the balmy conditions that existed 55 million years ago during the Paleo-Eocene Thermal Maximum (aka the PETM). Alligators in Spitzbergen!

    While rising CO2 disappoints when it comes to “Global Warming” it has delivered some other benefits such as the greening of the planet, increased drought resistance for many plant species and increased crop yields. Instead of rejoicing in all this good news Alarmists keep having hissy fits over an imaginary problem. For the rest of us:

    • tonyM says:

      adding to that is that every species on earth today has its ancestry passing through or emanating from that Eocene period so could benefit from some warming especially for the sharks and fish which were frozen alive last Northern winter.

      It seems this age of the adjustocene has bred new hominids – pachydermus thermo-adjustus dementus. We have some colourful players here. Micky Topolino Mannus, the hypocritical, hypersensitive pachyderm suffering delusional episodes believing climate is characterized by single weather events judging by his vociferous proclamations. He can’t even get this right as Joe Bastardi on occasions has even had to correct him suggesting he go learn some meteorology.

      An essential trait is feigned super-sensitivity clothing the thickest pachyderm walking the earth. This does create humour like Mickey’s denial that he referred to Judith Curry as a denier despite his documents calling her such. He defines his science as his personal feeling of being right and that proofs are only for geometry and alcohol.

      Many of these pachyderms believe they are ordained to save the world from the excesses of mundane humans. In truth these are modern day Crusaders for the Cause; Don Quixote eat your heart out. But boy can they act and sell their toxic brew creating a world of fake science.

  25. Duncanbelem says:

    To all those that say this is due to technology… and not global warming. I say without fossil fuels that cause global warming we would not have the technology for better corn growth. So Fossil fuels could cause global warming, but they also have caused a enormous increase in technology and science. And cutting them out could cause harmful effects to future technology and science.

  26. ren says:

    How to stop CO2 production during the solar minimum? Can not. Whats more, this CO2 will cool the troposphere!
    Carbon-14 is produced in the upper layers of the troposphere and the stratosphere by thermal neutrons absorbed by nitrogen atoms. When cosmic rays enter the atmosphere, they undergo various transformations, including the production of neutrons. The resulting neutrons (1n) participate in the following reaction:

    n + 14/7N→ 14/6C + p
    The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 49,000 ft) and at high geomagnetic latitudes.

    The rate of 14C production can be modelled[12] [13] and is between 16,400 and 18,800 atoms 14C m^−2 s^−1, which agrees with the global carbon budget that can be used to backtrack, but attempts to directly measure the production rate in situ were not very successful. Production rates vary because of changes to the cosmic ray flux caused by the heliospheric modulation (solar wind and solar magnetic field), and due to variations in the Earths magnetic field.

    The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 49,000 ft) and at high geomagnetic latitudes.

    You make a big mistake by not appreciating the role of the stratosphere in climate change. The increase in GCR causes an increase in ionization in the lower stratosphere, depending on the geomagnetic field. This leads to a local temperature increase in the lower stratosphere at high latitudes. It will increase stratospheric intrusions in winter and spring periods.
    Stratospheric Intrusions are when stratospheric air dynamically decends into the troposphere and may reach the surface, bringing with it high concentrations of ozone which may be harmful to some people. Stratospheric Intrusions are identified by very low tropopause heights, low heights of the 2 potential vorticity unit (PVU) surface, very low relative and specific humidity concentrations, and high concentrations of ozone. Stratospheric Intrusions commonly follow strong cold fronts and can extend across multiple states. In satellite imagery, Stratospheric Intrusions are identified by very low moisture levels in the water vapor channels (6.2, 6.5, and 6.9 micron). Along with the dry air, Stratospheric Intrusions bring high amounts of ozone into the tropospheric column and possibly near the surface. This may be harmful to some people with breathing impairments. Stratospheric Intrusions are more common in the winter/spring months and are more frequent during La Nina periods. Frequent or sustained occurances of Stratospheric Intrusions may decrease the air quality enough to exceed EPA guidelines.
    Total ozone in the southern hemisphere.
    GCR radiation is almost at the level of 2009.

    • ren says:

      Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the top of the atmosphere and wrap themselves around specks of meteor smoke. Mesospheric winds assemble the resulting ice crystals into NLCs. In 2017 a heat wave in the mesosphere melted those crystals, causing a brief “noctilucent blackout.” Could something similar, but opposite, be happening now? Perhaps a cold spell in the mesosphere is extending the season. Another possibility is the solar cycle. Previous studies have shown that NLCs sometimes intensify during solar minimum. Solar minimum conditions are in effect now as the sun has been without spots for 30 of the past 31 days.
      LATE-SEASON SURGE IN NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) are behaving strangely. Normally, NLCs begin to dim in late July, then fade away completely as August unfolds. It is their seasonal pattern. This year, though, the night-shining clouds are surging as July comes to an end. “We had a mind-blowing display of noctilucent clouds display on July 26th,” reports Kairo Kiitsak, who sends this picture from Simuna, Estonia:

    • ren says:

      Influence of geomagnetic activity on mesopause temperature over Yakutia
      Galina Gavrilyeva and Petr Ammosov
      Yu. G. Shafer Institute for Cosmophysical Research and Aeronomy SB RAS, 677098, Yakutsk, Russian Federation
      Received: 13 Jun 2017 Discussion started: 04 Oct 2017 Revised: 29 Jan 2018 Accepted: 31 Jan 2018 Published: 08 Mar 2018
      Abstract. The long-term temperature changes of the mesopause region at the hydroxyl molecule OH (6-2) nighttime height and its connection with the geomagnetic activity during the 23rd and beginning of the 24th solar cycles are presented. Measurements were conducted with an infrared digital spectrograph at the Maimaga station (63N, 129.5E). The hydroxyl rotational temperature (TOH) is assumed to be equal to the neutral atmosphere temperature at the altitude of ∼ 87km. The average temperatures obtained for the period 1999 to 2015 are considered. The season of observations starts at the beginning of August and lasts until the middle of May. The maximum of the seasonally averaged temperatures is delayed by 2 years relative to the maximum of the solar radio emission flux (wavelength of 10.7cm), and correlates with a change in geomagnetic activity (Ap index). Temperature grouping in accordance with the geomagnetic activity level showed that in years with high activity (Ap>8), the mesopause temperature from October to February is about 10K higher than in years with low activity (Ap<=8). Cross-correlation analysis showed no temporal shift between geomagnetic activity and temperature. The correlation coefficient is equal to 0.51 at the 95% level.

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