Early Drought’s Impact on Corn Revenue

Nate Bruce, Farm Business Management Specialist, nsbruce@udel.edu

Dry weather conditions have resulted in concerns about potential corn revenue loss. Corn is highly sensitive to drought conditions. Yield and revenue loss attributed to dry weather is possible at every growth stage but is most prominent during tasseling. Still though, drought can hinder corn yields and result in loss of revenue in the early stages of growth from emergence to V8. The size of individual leaves occurs during this growth stage. Dry weather can reduce plant and leaf size. Any yield, and potential revenue loss, during this growth stage can be attributed to reductions in plant leaf area available for photosynthesis. Below, is a chart from a North Carolina State University fact sheet that shows percentage yield loss attributable to correlating percentage leaf area loss.

Yield loss emergence to V8

The average dryland corn yield in Delaware from the last ten years has been 148 bushels per acre (USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service). Assuming this average, we can estimate loss in potential corn revenue at various leaf area percentage losses. Below is a table that shows dryland corn revenue at different prices per bushel under various percentage corn leaf area loss.

table with yield loss and revenue loss

Revenue is only income from corn sales and does not include cost of production. To estimate loss in net returns, or profit, costs of production need to be subtracted from revenue. Extended periods of dry weather that results in leaf burning has the greatest impacts on corn revenue. Even if minimal or no leaf burn attributable to drought conditions has occurred, corn revenue may still already be lost to a reduction in leaf area size.