Gro Yield Models Ahead of the Curve on Corn and Soy

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Gro Intelligence yield models for this year’s US corn and soybean crops were vindicated again today as the USDA revised its own yield forecasts lower, bringing them more in line with what Gro has been predicting for many weeks. Similar to how 2017 played out with corn, the USDA’s 2018 estimates have converged on the numbers routinely reflected in the Gro yield models as both soy and corn harvests wrap up.

Gro Intelligence yield models for corn (above) and soybeans (see below) give daily updates on yield estimates ahead of monthly WASDE reports. As this year's growing season comes to a close, the USDA’s model has converged to more closely align with predictions by Gro.

Gro’s yield models are updated daily to include fresh data inputs, some derived from satellite readings, such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), land surface temperature (LST), and daily precipitation amounts. Last year, the Gro models also arrived at significantly closer estimations of actual yields for US corn well ahead of the WASDE reports.

The USDA, in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE, report, estimated US corn yields for 2018 of 178.9 bushels/acre, down from the agency’s estimate last month of 180.7 bu/acre and 181.3 bu/acre that it forecast in September. In contrast, the Gro corn yield model has signaled yields of around 178 bu/acre since September, and sits at 177.74 bu/acre today.

Gro’s US soybean yield model also held up well against USDA estimates. The USDA soybean yield forecast fell by a bushel in its latest WASDE report to 52.1 bu/acre from 53.1 bu/acre estimated last month. Gro’s model has hovered around 51 bu/acre for the past few months and reports 50.71 bu/acre as of Nov. 7. Yield estimates have declined as inclement weather has impeded soy harvest across much of the Plains states and the upper Midwest.

'Unprecedented' China Revisions

The WASDE report also includes critical revisions made by China to its data for production, domestic consumption, and ending stocks of corn and other crops beginning with the 2007/08 marketing year. Some of the revisions are huge. For its 2017 revision, for instance, China said it produced 259.07 million tonnes of corn, up 20 percent from the 215.9 million tonnes originally reported. The Chinese revisions follow the results of China’s Third National Agricultural Census conducted last year, the first census in over a decade, the USDA says. The updates suggest previous corn production numbers were far below actual production. The full decade of data revisions added what the USDA termed “an unprecedented” 266 million tonnes of additional corn production. The new figures prompted the USDA to revise its own estimates for world corn ending stocks for the latest year to 307.51 million tonnes, nearly double its estimate from last month of 159.35 million tonnes.

Expanded acreage appears to be the reason behind China’s higher production values. Last year’s reported planted corn acreage was bumped to 42.4 million hectares from 35.5 million hectares. China’s National Bureau of Statistics explained that previously undocumented farm operations in the rapidly developing northeast region of China account for much of the data revisions. Until recently, many of these farms had not been registered with the government. China’s Ministry of Agriculture’s official reports at the moment still don’t reflect the revised figures.

Gro Intelligence subscribers can monitor up-to-date data on production and yield estimates for key crops around the globe. Yield model subscribers can stay ahead of WASDE and receive daily emailed updates on corn and soy yield estimates to keep track of rapidly evolving market developments.

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