Aerial views: How does the 2021 corn crop compare to last year?

August 25, 2021. What if you could follow this season’s corn crop from outer space? What would you see if you compared it to last season? What differences would you see? 

Take a tour through five Corn Belt states of interest – the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Ohio – with the same remote sensing technology that powers Indigo’s software. In the satellite images below, green indicates an abundance of healthy plants absorbing or reflecting specific wavelengths of light; the orange indicates the opposite, a less healthy crop, which is often tied to lower end-of-season yields. Between those colors is a mixed yellow, also indicative of a sub-par crop. 

We compared this season to the 2020 growing season.

1. North Dakota


North Dakota continues to have the lowest rated corn and soybean crop conditions of any state this season, given extensive and overwhelming drought conditions. Weather conditions were more forgiving up until this point in the season last year. That’s apparent in the contrast of these two images, in the extent of lower crop health throughout the middle of the state.

2. South Dakota


Along with its northern partner, South Dakota has also experienced the brunt of this year’s midwestern drought. Last year, the state saw a more prosperous corn crop on either side of the Missouri River.

3. Nebraska


Between this season and last, the difference in Nebraska’s corn corp health is more nuanced. You can see new pockets of yellow and orange in place of green at the center of the state, but the western and eastern portions look similar to last year.

4. Iowa


Iowa has seen a more mixed corn crop this year when compared to the 2020 season. The state’s northern counties are catching the tail end of the drought that is concentrated in the Dakotas.

5. Ohio


Last year, Ohio was the state struggling with widespread drought conditions, seen here most impacting the northwestern counties. Ohio is now slightly ahead, seeing a strong crop across the entire state.

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