Corn and Soybean Yield Projections Lower in Late-Season FBN Analysis

Walter Kunisch Jr.

Oct 28, 2019

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FBN released a late-season quantitative-driven corn and soybean yield assessment for the 2019 growing season on October 23. The model output provides yield estimates made at the county, region, state and national levels. FBN’s corn and soybean yield models use crop condition metrics, weather/hydrological inputs, vegetation health metrics and satellite imagery as input values.

Using these inputs, FBN is predicting a 0.7 BPA decline in national corn yields, to 167.4 BPA, and a 0.5 BPA decline in national soybean yields, to 47.5 BPA.

FBN corn and soybean yield updates have both been available to network members on a consistent basis throughout the 2019-20 growing season.

Recent crop condition scores and declining vegetative health scores have helped lower the national yield objectives for corn and soybeans.

Compared with previous model runs in early October, FBN’s latest output shows that the estimated yield objectives for corn and soy in both the western Corn Belt (WCB) and eastern Corn Belt (ECB) have declined. This decline in corn and soy yield objectives represents a departure from previous model runs, which showed a trend toward crop stabilization that was aided by ideal growing conditions in August and September. The departure from the stabilizing national corn and soybean crops becomes apparent, as the physiological nature of the late-maturing plants has become increasingly vulnerable to late-season weather conditions like frost, snow and drought.          

This week, the FBN corn and soy yield models emphasize the statistical relevance of crop condition scores and the relative vegetative health scores as noted by the satellite imagery. Independent variables like temperature and precipitation, which can provide material predictive power during mid-stage and late stage plant maturity, have lost their relevance this late in the corn and soybean cycle. 2019 is a year which defines the term “late.” States that have experienced the largest drops in corn and soybean yield potential are concentrated in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. FBN’s corn model showed improvements for the corn yield objectives in Ohio and Indiana while Illinois showed continued weakness.

While the yield potential in almost all key corn and soybean producing states in the WCB and ECB continue to exhibit below trend tendencies for the 2019-20 marketing year, FBN’s recent model run does not capture or account for the recent snow accumulation in parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota. The limitations of the satellite imagery as it pertains to snow accumulation are evident, as the images cannot capture potential pod loss/droppings for soybean and cannot account for kernel loss in corn. Another complication that arises with using satellite imagery to assist with yield prediction is that the reflective properties of snow cause material image distortion making it impossible to account for plant health. Overall, these distortions have the ability to deliver inconclusive results about the yield potential in areas.                


Given emerging harvest delays and production concerns, FBN believes the recent decline in corn and soybean yield objectives are a result of late-developing crops combined with challenging late-cycle growing conditions. While FBN’s satellite imagery is experiencing practical difficulties in accounting for possible yield penalties from the recent snowfall in the northern producing corn and soy states like North Dakota and South Dakota, we believe that the overall national direction for both crops is lower. At FBN, we believe that as yields compress and production estimates decrease, the U.S. corn and soybean balance sheets can tighten which can be supportive of both cash and futures prices. Please contact your FBN farm market advisor (FMA) for more details.

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Walter Kunisch Jr.

Oct 28, 2019

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