By Adam Pasch
CIBO has been running monthly yield predictions since April. As predicted, the 2021 growing season started out well, with excellent conditions throughout the corn-growing region, allowing crops to get in the ground early. With crop development entering a crucial stage of yield determination in June, significant rainfall (> 8 inches more than normal) was observed in the midwest and the southeastern United States, which was good news for the primary corn and soybean growing areas. Significant rainfall occurred during October with many areas including the Western US observing over 600% of normal due to heavy rain. The West Coast experienced record-breaking flooding as the result of an atmospheric river, which caused significant flooding, with some areas receiving over 4 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Figure 1. Monthly Departure from Normal Precipitation from NOAA’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) for September 2021 and October 2021.
CIBO’s national average yields are trending close to the yields from USDA’s September WASDE report. The big unknown continues to be the impact on cotton and soybeans and infrastructure damage and delays for shipping and storing grain caused by Hurricane Ida. Growers and agriculture decision-makers will be keeping a close eye as more information and updates on damage and associated impacts are coming throughout the next several months as corn, soybeans, and cotton harvests complete throughout the US.
The weather stories for September was and continue to be the impacts of:
- Hurricane Ida which impacted most of the Gulf Coast throughout the Southeastern and Northeastern US;
- Significant rainfall events, including the record-breaking rainfall in the West.
- Reduced the number of wildfires (Figure 2) and associated smoke plumes due to the record-breaking rainfall; and
- Alleviated Drought conditions throughout the West and North-Central US.
Figure 2. Active large fire incidents as of November 2, 2021 (top) and October 5, 2021 (bottom) from the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center’s active incident feed are presented as fire icons. This map is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Forest Service-led Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program (IWFAQRP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (source: https://fire.airnow.gov/#).
U.S. Drought Monitor shows a decrease in the extent and intensity of drought conditions throughout the US due to the above-normal rainfall during October continuing in Iowa and the North-Central US and expanding to most of the of the key corn and soy regions with large areas of Moderate to Severe drought throughout Iowa, the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Minnesota. However, the West is still experiencing Exceptional Drought conditions exacerbating the already severe wildfire conditions (Figure 3).
Figure 3. U.S Drought Monitor map for October 5, 2021 (top) and November 2, 2021 (bottom) obtained from: https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap.aspx.
What does the USDA think about the current conditions?
The Crop Progress and Condition for corn from USDA (Figure 4) shows a continued trend in the percentage of crops that are Good + Excellent to be at levels not seen since 2019 for both corn and soybeans. The percentage of crops that are Good + Excellent for corn and soybeans is ~60%. Corn harvest is progressing slower than in 2020 with a little under 80% harvested in 2021 compared to a little over 80% in 2020, but the progress is still above the 2016-2020 average.
USDA has the current corn harvest at about 72% complete nationwide as of Sunday, October 31, 2021 – 11 points ahead of the five-year average, and 13 points behind 2020.
The nation’s soybean harvest is 91% completed – equal to the five-year average, but nine points behind 2020.
Cotton harvest has only reached ~45% nationwide when it would normally have been ~50%. The biggest producing state of Texas shows their harvest is now at 45% complete – four points ahead of its average pace. The national cotton condition rating stayed consistent between the end-of-September and end-of-October at ~62% Good + Excellent.
Figure 3. National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Crop Progress Report for Corn (top), Soybeans (middle), and Cotton (bottom) for October 2021.
The USDA regularly announces national yield insights which tell you what will likely happen. CIBO’s monthly and real-time forecasts are able to tell you where and why yields are likely to happen. This insight creates new opportunities for actionable and hyper-local farming, agribusiness, sustainability and trading decision-making.
About the Author
Adam Pasch is the Director of Product Management – Platform at CIBO, a science-driven software startup. He is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist from the American Meteorological Society. Prior to CIBO, Dr. Pasch was the Weather Data Strategy and Operations Manager at The Climate Corporation and a Meteorologist Project Manager at Sonoma Technologies, Inc. He holds a Doctorate, Masters, and Bachelors of Science in Meteorology from Saint Louis University.