Iowa State University CARD Researchers Create New Corn Yield Prediction Tool

Ames, IA (July 3, 2019) — Researchers at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University have created a new online tool to help Corn Belt farmers predict corn crop yields, harvested acreage, and total production. The PSI-CARD Corn Yield Prediction Project provides county-level predictions for South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.

The daily corn yield predictions are calculated using a deep machine learning method, known as Long Short-Term Memory, which provides a high level of accuracy to predicted corn yields. The model provides predictions that are only .83 bushels per acre lower than actual yields, making it more accurate than the corresponding USDA predictions. Overall, about 80% of the county-level predictions fall within 20 bushels per acre of actual yields. “In four years of out-of-sample testing, the model proved capable of giving accurate yield predictions at the Corn Belt level,” said Dermot Hayes, a professor of economics and one of the lead researchers on the project. “These yield predictions should prove valuable to anyone with a financial stake in national yields, including farmers and anyone trading corn futures,” Hayes said.

The project also includes a harvested acreage map, which uses USDA information to predict the difference in harvested acreage between the previous and current harvest years, and a total production map, which estimates the current year’s total corn production at the county level.

The PSI-CARD Corn Yield Prediction Project is free to use and available online at

The PSI-CARD Corn Yield Prediction Project was created in cooperation with the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State University (

About the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development For 60 years, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University has conducted innovative public policy and economic research on agricultural, environmental and food issues. CARD combines academic excellence with engagement and anticipatory thinking to inform and benefit society. Center researchers develop and apply economic theory, quantitative methods and interdisciplinary approaches to create relevant knowledge. Communication efforts target state and federal policymakers, the research community, agricultural, food and environmental groups, individual decision-makers and international audiences.