US crops face greater than usual uncertainty this year, and none more so than soybeans.
The USDA’s WASDE report for September, due out next week, will be the department’s first reliable indicator of yield for the nation’s soybean crop. The estimate will be based on the department’s first objective yield survey of the season, which gathers on-the-ground measures of crop progress and is considered the most trustworthy data.
In August, the USDA NASS reported that the area planted to soybeans was down 14% from last year, as farmers shifted a surprisingly large number of acres to planting corn. But in the absence of new data, the USDA last month left unchanged its soybean yield estimate, which was last updated in June. Yields will certainly decline this year, but by how much is the key question.
Ahead of next week’s WASDE report, this Featured Insight checks in with Gro’s US Soybean Yield Model, which is currently forecasting yield declines from 2018 in 76% of soybean producing counties. Using a number of data sources on the Gro data platform, we analyze growing conditions down to the county level to explain why yield forecasts are varying so widely from state to state and what this will mean for currently record high US soybean stocks.
Drenching rains and flooding got planting off to a late start across much of the Midwest. That should have boosted acreage of soybeans, which go in the ground later than corn. Instead, soybean acreage plunged 14% to 76.7 million acres, as farmers reacted to a late corn price spike to plant more corn. In addition, a record number of prevent plant acres in several states reduced acreage from both crops.
Soybeans have looked disappointing for many months, as the China/US trade war, now in its second year, slashed exports and depressed prices. As a result, US soybean stocks have soared 144% since last year to 29.1 million tonnes, the highest level ever.
Late planting means many soybean plants are behind in reaching maturity, confounding efforts to estimate yield. In June, the USDA estimated average national yield would fall from 51.6 bushels per acre in 2018, the second highest on record, to 48.5 bushels per acre this year. The August WASDE report reiterated the June yield estimate. But that figure is widely expected to be reduced in the September WASDE report next week.
Gro’s US Soybean Yield Model predicts a less optimistic harvest. The model, which updates daily, estimates total US soybean yield of 46.9 bushels per acre as of September 4. That, combined with reduced soybean acreage, implies total soybean production of 3.6 billion bushels, a steep 21.7% decline from last year. It also suggests that bloated US soybean stocks could be drawn down sharply this year by 437.5 million bushels, or 41%.
Gro’s machine-learning-based yield model continuously analyzes 60 features, including satellite and climate data and plant-condition ratings. Digging into these features, we can gain insight into which variables are most affecting yield forecasts nationally and at the state and county levels.
One of the Gro model’s main variables pulling down yields for both soybeans and corn this year is poor vegetative health. NDVI, a measurement of vegetative health collected using satellite imagery, has been recorded at its lowest levels since 2012 for Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.
Crop condition ratings, released weekly by the USDA and inputted to Gro’s yield model, also have weighed on Gro’s soybean yield forecasts. In early August, soybeans rated in poor condition reached 18%, compared with 3% at the same time in 2018.
Exceptionally wet soil early in the planting season has also diminished soybean yield estimates. Beginning in mid-March and going through early June, soil moisture measurements were consistently at the highest levels when compared to the previous five years. Besides preventing planting, excessively wet soil is more readily compacted, impeding root development and depressing yields as the crop reaches maturity.
Some counties have been hit harder this year than others, especially in Illinois. Twenty-four counties nationally are expected to have yield declines upward of 20 bushels per acre; of those 24 counties, eight are in Ohio and 13 in Illinois.
Ohio was also hit hard with prevent plant acres and set back by late planting, especially in the northwest part of the state where farmers felt the brunt of the heavy rains. In the Gro model, the key factor pressuring yields is NDVI, with index measurements the lowest recorded in the past 20 years. Williams County, bordered by Indiana to the west and Michigan to the north, is predicted to be Ohio’s hardest hit county in 2019, with average yield of 36.1 bushels per acre, down 39.1% from last year. Overall, Ohio’s soybean yield is currently forecast to drop by 22% to 45.5 bushels per acre this year, according to the Gro yield model.
Illinois, the country’s biggest soybean-producing state for the past three years, will see average yield drop to 50.7 bushels per acre, or 16%, from a record high of 65 bushels per acre in 2018, the Gro model shows.
The hit to yields in Illinois is concentrated in the central part of the state. Sangamon County was the highest yielding county in all of the US in 2018, with a whopping 82.3 bushels per acre. In 2019, Sangamon is expected to yield 57.85 bushels per acre, according to the Gro model, a 29.7% decline from last year and the lowest figure since the 2012 drought.
By comparison, corn’s average national yield for this year is expected to be down 4.5% to 168.5 bushels per acre. But in states such as Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, corn yields could fall as much as 24%, according to the Gro corn yield model. The USDA surprised markets on Aug. 12 when its WASDE report estimated corn planted area at 90 million acres and average corn yield of 169.5 bushels per acre. Both estimates were above market expectations and sparked a plunge in corn prices.
It’s not all bad news across the US Midwest, however. In the western part of the Corn Belt, states including Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa haven’t taken as big a hit to yield as have the eastern states and South Dakota. Soybean yield in Nebraska, for instance, is forecast to be just 3.5% lower than the 2018 number. This would make Nebraska the highest yielding state for soybeans this year. Some inputs to the Gro yield model, especially soil properties, have worked in favor of sandier states such as Nebraska and Wisconsin. Sandy soils drain water more quickly, which helps during an uncharacteristically wet year.
Some Midwest counties should expect to see higher soybean yields this year, the Gro model shows. Several counties in south-central Missouri, including Dallas, Morgan, and Laclede counties, could improve by more than 8 bushels per acre in 2019. These areas missed the brunt of the rainfall issues farther north, and look to be on track for a decent harvest.
Soybeans still have a few weeks before harvest ramps up in the major producing states. NDVI has risen over the month of August to more normal levels, which may suggest some crop recovery before harvest. And both central Illinois and northwest Ohio, two of the weakest yielding areas, are forecast to receive some rains in the next week, which should assist late-season pod filling for the immature soybean crop. Gro Intelligence representatives who participated in this year’s Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour from Aug. 19-22 observed many fields of immature soybean plants that were still flowering, far behind the typical schedule.
As markets eagerly await USDA yield forecasts, Gro’s yield model is currently predicting an average national yield decline of 9% to 46.90 bushels per acre, compared with last year. On a state level, however, yield forecasts vary widely, ranging from a high of 57.33 in Nebraska to a low of 40.88 in South Dakota. Final estimates from the Pro Farmer Crop Tour include 39 bushels per acre in both Ohio and South Dakota, 50 bushels per acre in Illinois, and 46.1 bushels per acre nationally. Some counties in Ohio and Illinois are poised to see yields drop by half from last year. That, combined with a steep drop in soybean planted acreage, could draw down US stocks from their current historic highs to more normal levels in a single year.
What Information Do We Collect?
The information we gather enables us to personalize, improve and continue to operate the Services. We collect the following types of information from our users.
IP Address Information and Other Information Collected Automatically:
· We automatically receive and record information from your web browser when you interact with the Services, including your IP address and cookie information. This information is used for fighting spam/malware and also to facilitate collection of data concerning your interaction with the Services (e.g., what links you have clicked on).
· Generally, the Services automatically collect usage information, such as the number and frequency of visitors to the Site. We may use this data in aggregate form, that is, as a statistical measure, but not in a manner that would identify you personally. This type of aggregate data enables us and third parties authorized by us to figure out how often individuals use parts of the Services so that we can analyze and improve them.
Information Collected Using Cookies:
· Most browsers have an option for turning off the cookie feature, which will prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, as well as (depending on the sophistication of your browser software) allowing you to decide on acceptance of each new cookie in a variety of ways.
We collect statistical information about how users collectively use the Services (“Aggregate Information”). Some of this information may be derived from Personal Information. This statistical information is not Personal Information and cannot be tied back to you or your web browser.
How, and With Whom, Is My Information Shared?
IP Address Information:
Information You Elect to Share:
We share Aggregate Information with our partners, service providers and other persons with whom we conduct business. We share this type of statistical data so that our partners can understand how and how often people use our Services and their services or websites, which facilitates improving both their services and how our Services interface with them. In addition, these third parties may share with us non-private, aggregated or otherwise non Personal Information about you that they have independently developed or acquired.
Information Shared with Our Agents:
We employ and contract with people and other entities that perform certain tasks on our behalf and who are under our control (our “Agents”). We may need to share Personal Information with our Agents in order to provide products or services to you. Unless we tell you differently, our Agents do not have any right to use Personal Information or other information we share with them beyond what is necessary to assist us. You hereby consent to our sharing of Personal Information with our Agents.
Information Disclosed Pursuant to Business Transfers:
In some cases, we may choose to buy or sell assets. In these types of transactions, user information is typically one of the transferred business assets. Moreover, if we, or substantially all of our assets, were acquired, or if we go out of business or enter bankruptcy, user information would be one of the assets that is transferred or acquired by a third party. You acknowledge that such transfers may occur, and that any acquirer of us or our assets may continue to use your Personal Information as set forth in this policy.
Information Disclosed for Our Protection and the Protection of Others:
Information We Share With Your Consent:
Except as set forth above, you will be notified when your Personal Information may be shared with third parties, and will be able to prevent the sharing of this information.
Is Information About Me Secure?
We store all of our information, including your IP address information, using industry-standard techniques. We do not guarantee or warrant that such techniques will prevent unauthorized access to information about you that we store, Personal Information or otherwise.
What Information of Mine Can I Access?
You can access and delete cookies through your web browser settings.
California Privacy Rights: Under California Civil Code sections 1798.83-1798.84, California residents are entitled to ask us for a notice identifying the categories of personal customer information which we share with our affiliates and/or third parties for marketing purposes, and providing contact information for such affiliates and/or third parties. If you are a California resident and would like a copy of this notice, please submit a written request to the following address: 1156 6th Ave, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10036
What If I Have Questions or Concerns?
If you have any questions or concerns regarding privacy using the Services, please send us a detailed message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make every effort to resolve your concerns.
Effective Date: March 11, 2014
b. You shall not (directly or indirectly):i. take any action that imposes or may impose (as determined by us in our sole discretion) an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our (or our third party providers’) infrastructure;ii. interfere or attempt to interfere with the proper working of the Services or any activities conducted on the Services;iii. bypass, circumvent or attempt to bypass or circumvent any measures we may use to prevent or restrict access to the Services (or other accounts, computer systems or networks connected to the Services);iv. use manual or automated software, devices, or other processes to “crawl” or “spider” any page of the Site;
v. harvest or scrape any Content from the Services;
vi. otherwise take any action in violation of our guidelines and policies;vii. decipher, decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer or otherwise attempt to derive any source code or underlying ideas or algorithms of any part of the Services (including without limitation any application), except to the limited extent applicable laws specifically prohibit such restriction;viii. modify, translate, or otherwise create derivative works of any part of the Services; orix. copy, rent, lease, distribute, or otherwise transfer any of the rights that you receive hereunder.c. We also reserve the right to access, read, preserve, and disclose any information as we reasonably believe is necessary to:i. satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request;ii. enforce these Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations hereof;
iii. detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues;
iv. respond to user support requests; or
v. protect the rights, property or safety of us, our users and the public.4. Third Party Services. The Services may permit you to link to other websites, services or resources on the Internet, and other websites, services or resources may contain links to the Services. When you access third party resources on the Internet, you do so at your own risk. These other resources are not under our control, and you acknowledge that we are not responsible or liable for the content, functions, accuracy, legality, appropriateness or any other aspect of such websites or resources. The inclusion of any such link does not imply our endorsement or any association between us and their operators. You further acknowledge and agree that we shall not be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any such content, goods or services available on or through any such website or resource.5. Termination. We may terminate your access to all or any part of the Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. All provisions of these Terms of Service which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.6. Warranty Disclaimer.a. You release us from all liability for you having acquired or not acquired Content through the Services. We make no representations concerning any Content contained in or accessed through the Services, and we will not be responsible or liable for the accuracy, copyright compliance, or legality of material or Content contained in or accessed through the Services.b. THE SERVICES AND CONTENT ARE PROVIDED “AS IS”, “AS AVAILABLE” AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND ANY WARRANTIES IMPLIED BY ANY COURSE OF PERFORMANCE OR USAGE OF TRADE, ALL OF WHICH ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. WE, AND OUR DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, SUPPLIERS, PARTNERS AND CONTENT PROVIDERS DO NOT WARRANT THAT: (I) THE SERVICES WILL BE SECURE OR AVAILABLE AT ANY PARTICULAR TIME OR LOCATION; (II) ANY DEFECTS OR ERRORS WILL BE CORRECTED; (III) ANY CONTENT AVAILABLE AT OR THROUGH THE SERVICES IS FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS; OR (IV) THE RESULTS OF USING THE SERVICES WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS.7. Limitation of Liability. IN NO EVENT SHALL WE, NOR OUR DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, PARTNERS, SUPPLIERS OR CONTENT PROVIDERS, BE LIABLE UNDER CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, NEGLIGENCE OR ANY OTHER LEGAL OR EQUITABLE THEORY WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICES FOR ANY (I) LOST PROFITS, DATA LOSS, COST OF PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES, OR SPECIAL, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, COMPENSATORY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER, SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES (HOWEVER ARISING), (II) BUGS, VIRUSES, TROJAN HORSES, OR THE LIKE (REGARDLESS OF THE SOURCE OF ORIGINATION), OR (III) DIRECT DAMAGES IN EXCESS OF $50.00.8. Governing Law and Jurisdiction. These Terms of Service shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, including its conflicts of law rules, and the United States of America. You agree that any dispute arising from or relating to the subject matter of these Terms of Service shall be governed by the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the state and Federal courts of New York County, New York.9. Miscellaneous.a. Modification. We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to modify or replace any of these Terms of Service, or change, suspend, or discontinue the Services at any time. Your continued use of the Services following notification of any changes to these Terms of Service constitutes acceptance of those changes.b. Entire Agreement and Severability. These Terms of Service are the entire agreement between you and us with respect to the Services, including use of the Site, and supersede all prior or contemporaneous communications and proposals (whether oral, written or electronic) between you and us with respect to the Services. If any provision of these Terms of Service is found to be unenforceable or invalid, that provision will be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that these Terms of Service will otherwise remain in full force and effect and enforceable. The failure of either party to exercise in any respect any right provided for herein shall not be deemed a waiver of any further rights hereunderc. Force Majeure. We shall not be liable for any failure to perform our obligations hereunder where such failure results from any cause beyond our reasonable control, including, without limitation, mechanical, electronic or communications failure or degradation.d. Assignment. These Terms of Service are personal to you, and are not assignable, transferable or sublicensable by you except with our prior written consent. We may assign, transfer or delegate any of our rights and obligations hereunder without consent.e. Agency. No agency, partnership, joint venture, or employment relationship is created as a result of these Terms of Service and neither party has any authority of any kind to bind the other in any respect.f. Notices. Unless otherwise specified in these Term of Service, all notices under these Terms of Service will be in writing and will be deemed to have been duly given when received, if personally delivered or sent by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested; when receipt is electronically confirmed, if transmitted by facsimile or e-mail; or the day after it is sent, if sent for next day delivery by recognized overnight delivery service. Electronic notices should be sent to email@example.com. No Waiver. Our failure to enforce any part of these Terms of Service shall not constitute a waiver of our right to later enforce that or any other part of these Terms of Service. Waiver of compliance in any particular instance does not mean that we will waive compliance in the future. In order for any waiver of compliance with these Terms of Service to be binding, we must provide you with written notice of such waiver through one of our authorized representatives.h. Headings. The section and paragraph headings in these Terms of Service are for convenience only and shall not affect their interpretation.Contact. You may contact us at the following address: 1156 6th Ave, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10036.