Grains: Brazil’s Projections And U.S. Closing Estimates Slip – Indigo GeoInnovation

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Indigo Ag, Inc., has released its recent directional changes to soybean and corn yield and production forecasts for the 2018/2019 season across the Americas.

In a press release, today, the company said the estimates were based on technology that includes machine learning, artificial intelligence, real-time production data and satellite imaging.

Brazilian Production Forecast Slipping

Its forecasts for soybean and corn production in Brazil have decreased by 6.3% and 5.1%, or 7.3 MMT and 4.9 MMT, respectively, since the date of the December USDA report. Indigo attributes this downward trend to unevenly distributed dry conditions in the country, resulting from below-average rainfall.

In some Brazilian states, soybeans were planted soon after their permitted planting dates and the dry weather disrupted the plants during the crucial pod-filling phase.

Indigo’s Crop Health Index for soybeans in Brazil was higher than normal in November and early December, but it is now below ten-year norms for this stage in the season.

In contrast, Indigo’s forecast for soybean production in Argentina has not significantly changed since the date of the December USDA report, while its forecast for corn production in the country has increased 1.1%, or 0.5 MMT. Indigo attributes the slight upward trend in corn to a wetter season in the country.

Indigo’s models suggest that “popular sources are overstating the negative impact of some flooding and hail in the area. Indigo’s Crop Health for soybeans in Argentina is slightly behind its normal progress over the past decade, but by a negligible amount,” the release stated.

U.S. Final Crop Totals Will Run Below USDA’s December Estimates

For soybean and corn yields in the United States, Indigo anticipates final yields below the December 11, 2018, USDA estimates of 52.1 bu/ac for soybeans and 178.9 bu/ac for corn.

Indigo’s models have been below both the USDA and market consensus all year, the release stated, and the company predicts that the USDA’s year-end report will again make downward revisions when they ultimately close out the season after the government shutdown. Late-season flooding led to harvest issues negatively impacting an otherwise robust crop.

“The absence of the January 11 government yield estimates makes data-driven private forecasts more compelling than ever,” said Benjamin Riensche, an Iowa-based grower and advisory board member of Indigo Research Partners. “Even better, this (Indigo’s) data is virtually real-time, rather than the weeks old data in government reports. It can accurately reflect a quickly evolving situation in Brazil, which appears to be experiencing a shrinking crop in recent dry weather.”

In the U.S., Indigo’s analytics “seem more likely to pick up on soybean yield and quality reductions from wet harvest conditions in North Central and Northeast Iowa, as well as refute the old conventional logic that ‘rain makes grain’ for this prime production area,” Riensche added.

Due to the United States government shutdown, most operations within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been put on hold, and key market reports have been delayed indefinitely.

Filling In Gaps During Government Shutdown

In the absence of this information, Indigo is sharing agricultural market data for the Americas gathered by its GeoInnovation unit, “whose capabilities in predicting yield have outperformed the USDA’s in recent years,” the company said in the release.

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For example, in the 2017 season, the GeoInnovation unit – formerly known as TellusLabs – correctly projected record-breaking corn yields in the United States in mid-season, compared to much lower numbers from the USDA that the department eventually revised upwards to meet the company’s initial estimates late in the winter.”

“Informed market perspectives are fundamental to a grower’s profitability,” said David Perry, Indigo CEO. “With access to the right data, a grower decides which inputs to buy, crops to plant, dates to sell, and more – decisions that will affect the rest of his or her season. As a company that wants to support growers’ independence, Indigo is providing this access to streamlined insights, especially since they are otherwise unavailable.”

David Potere, Head of GeoInnovation at Indigo, said that the data being shared this week is “a small slice of the massive set we generate daily. With our living map of the world’s food supply, we are able to syndicate information from that platform at a moment’s notice, restoring data in the absence of key reports and insights from the USDA.”


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