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Kicking off the 2021 Growing Season

By Marie Coffin and Adam Pasch 

Here at CIBO, we are already thinking about the upcoming growing season. Last summer, CIBO started releasing monthly forecasts of yield, along with estimates of acres planted, planting dates, and maturity dates, all derived from our proprietary crop modeling and computer vision algorithms. These estimates provide county-by-county detail of changing conditions on the ground and how those evolve through time.

Last year saw both delayed and prevented planting in significant portions of the Grain Belt. Those growers who were able to plant on time saw much better conditions going into June and July, and mid-season indications were for big harvests. August brought a double whammy: the derecho that swept through Iowa and Illinois, flattening fields in its wake, was followed by dry conditions; many growers that were not impacted by the derecho saw their yields reduced by drought as crops matured.  

Meanwhile, cotton-growing regions experienced their own problems: West Texas continued the drought conditions of recent years, while the gulf coast was inundated with rain from tropical storms.  

The net result of this:

Screen Shot 2021 04 07 at 10.23.43 AM

End of Season Predicted Corn Yields (bu/ac)*

corn 20201101

*We are showing yields for counties that typically plant at least 25,000 acres of corn based on the past ten years of crop acreage data from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

End of Season Predicted Soybean Yields (bu/ac)*
soy 20201101 1
*We are showing yields for counties that typically plant at least 25,000 acres of soybeans based on the past ten years of crop acreage data from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

End of Season Predicted Cotton Yields (lb/ac lint)*

November Cotton Yield

*We are showing yields for counties that typically plant at least 25,000 acres of cotton based on the past ten years of crop acreage data from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

All of this leaves us wondering: what will 2021 bring?  

NOAA and the National Weather Service predict a warm spring all around the country. Precipitation is expected to be normal throughout the central plains, with higher precipitation from eastern Illinois across the Ohio valley. The risk of flooding is considered normal. The Southern Plains, meanwhile, are predicted to be hot and fairly dry.  

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The Farmer’s Almanac, on the other hand, predicts a  warm dry spring, and a hot dry summer across the midwest.  Southern regions (Texas through the southeast) are predicted to have a cool wet spring, and a cool dry summer. 

Meanwhile, AccuWeather is predicting above-average hurricane and tornado activity in 2021, largely attributed to La Nina/El Nino effects.  

All of this should add up to favorable planting conditions for the spring, with some risk of drought later in the season. At the same time, NASS is predicting slightly higher planted acres of corn and soybeans this year, pointing to increased planting in the Dakotas to offset decreases elsewhere in the Corn Belt. Whatever the season brings, CIBO will be there with you, providing timely and detailed information as the year progresses. 

Starting in May, make sure to check back each month the day before the USDA WASDE is released to access CIBO’s forecasted numbers. 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. 

Learn More:

US farmers expect to plant more corn and soybean acreage

AccuWeather forecasters predict active 2021 hurricane season

Update on National Hurricane Center Products and Services for 2021

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

Farmer’s Almanac 2021 Weather Predictions

QuickStats database

Spring flooding outlook

About the Authors

Marie Coffin is the VP, Science and Modeling at CIBO, a science-driven software startup. She has focused on being a biostatistician at agriculture companies. Prior to CIBO, she worked for Monsanto, Icoria, Paradigm Genetics, and was an assistant professor at Clemson University. She holds a BS in Mathematics from South Dakota State University and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Iowa State University.

Adam Pasch is the Director of Product Management 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.

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