Digital Yield Tour: Forecast for Record National Averages for Corn, Soybeans – DTN

Mature soybean field. ©Debra L Ferguson

The U.S. could set new yield records in 2020, with Gro Intelligence forecasting a national average corn yield of 183.9 bushels per acre and soybean yield of 53.1 bpa.

The corn yield estimate is 2.1 bpa higher than USDA’s August estimate, while Gro’s soybean estimate came in 0.2 bpa below USDA. Neither estimate accounts for damage from the derecho on Monday, Aug. 10, which slammed more than 33.7 million corn and soybean acres across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana with hurricane-force winds.

Over the course of the past week, DTN has been pairing Gro’s real-time yield maps, which are generated with satellite imagery, rainfall data, temperature maps and other public data, with on-the-ground commentary from farmers to conduct the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour.

“It was another engaging digital yield tour between DTN and Gro Intelligence with record yields expected, and having to assess the impact of an unexpected weather event during the digital yield tour was a challenging but intriguing thing to assess,” Gro Intelligence Vice President of Agribusiness James Heneghan said.

Gro analysts used DTN wind speed maps to evaluate crop acreage in the storm’s path, and using their yield estimates, calculated that more than 3.5 billion bushels of corn and 936 million bushels of soybean production were put at risk by the storm.

Heneghan said it typically takes several weeks to a month for damage from severe weather events to show up on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) maps, which indicate how green or lush a crop is compared to conditions over the past decade, and is an integral component of the yield models.

Gro’s yield models update on a daily basis throughout the growing season, with the changes growing smaller as the crop progresses through harvest. Typically, that enables Gro to publish a final estimate in mid-November. Over the past three years, Gro’s final national corn yield estimate has been within 3 bushels of USDA’s final estimate in January, while its final soybean estimate has been within 1 bpa.

You can follow the evolution of Gro’s yield estimates by signing up for a free account here.

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“After four days of seeing high, and in many cases, new state record yield estimates on the tour, the higher national yield is not a surprise and weighs heavy on corn prices,” DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman said. “With roughly two months to go before harvest gets underway, it is important to remember that Friday’s estimate is not a final yield estimate, and weather risk is still at play with a dry forecast ahead.”

He added that, while the windstorm’s impact is still being assessed, “The anticipation of a record corn harvest this fall is bearish for corn prices and comes at a time when demand has also had its own set of challenges.”

Gro’s estimate of a 53.1 bpa average yield on soybeans largely supports USDA’s near-record crop estimate of 4.425 billion bushels and is also a bearish factor for soybean prices, although Hultman cautions that August weather plays a large role in the ultimate outcome.

“We are seeing a drier trend develop over the next week to 10 days going into the last week and a half of August,” DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said. “This drier trend will be watched closely for some impact on prospects for filling crops as they move into the homestretch of the season. Fortunately, the temperatures in most key row-crop states have a below-normal track, which will reduce dryness stress.”

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour took an in-depth look at 10 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The tour spotted some notable differences from USDA. Gro’s corn estimate for Illinois, for instance, came in 7 bpa below USDA. Gro’s estimate for Iowa has been below USDA in each of the past two years, and this year’s forecast is 4 bpa lower. Kansas’, Nebraska’s and Wisconsin’s estimates are higher than USDA, suggesting there’s some upside yield potential.

Here’s a summary of the tour’s state findings, using Gro Intelligence’s yield estimates from our published stories. Because Gro Intelligence’s yield models update every day, the numbers on their website may differ from what you see below.

CORN YIELDS
USDA USDA
STATE GRO INTEL AUGUST 2019
ILLINOIS 200 207 181
INDIANA 190 188 169
IOWA 198 202 198
KANSAS 161 143 133
MINNESOTA 200 197 173
MISSOURI 182 175 155
NEBRASKA 199 191 182
OHIO 176 175 164
SOUTH DAKOTA 174 167 144
WISCONSIN 186 181 166

**

SOYBEAN YIELDS
USDA USDA
STATE GRO INTEL AUGUST 2019
ILLINOIS 60 64 54
INDIANA 58 61 51
IOWA 61 58 55
KANSAS 48 46 41.5
MINNESOTA 52 51 44
MISSOURI 52 53 46
NEBRASKA 63 62 58.5
OHIO 53 58 49
SOUTH DAKOTA 49 50 42.5
WISCONSIN 55 54 47

ABOUT THE TOUR

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2020 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, provided an in-depth look at how the year’s corn and soybean crops were progressing during the week of Aug. 10, 2020. It featured crop condition and yield information from various states and included links to the Gro Intelligence yield prediction maps for those states, which included county level yield summaries.

CLAAS sponsored the 2020 digital yield tour.

The “tour” started in the west, with the first day’s articles focusing on Nebraska and South Dakota. On Aug. 11, the tour examined yields in Kansas and Missouri before moving into Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin yields on Aug. 12. The Eastern Corn Belt — Illinois, Indiana and Ohio — took center stage on Aug. 13, and national estimates were released on Aug. 14.

New York-based Gro Intelligence is focused on creating data analytics for the agriculture industry. Gro Intelligence builds proprietary crop models that use satellite imagery, soil conditions, weather and other crop and environmental data to produce crop health and yield prediction numbers and visuals.

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.dehlinger@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN

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