June 27, 2019
Area planted in the U.S.: possible record lows for corn
Applying machine learning to satellite imagery, while also leveraging historical data, Indigo estimates that there are 81 to 89M acres of corn and 89 to 95M acres of soybeans currently planted in the U.S. For corn, that is across Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, and Texas. For soy, that is across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, and Arkansas.
If you have been trying to take the planter out these past two months, you already know the story: heavy rains and flooding have impacted a majority of farmers this season. Between flooding and supersaturated soils, many have experienced interference with planting. Indigo has already reported on how flooding impacted nearly 4,000 grain storage bins in March across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. As of early June, at least 1.47M acres across the Midwest were flooded.
Crop conditions also continue to decline for those acres that are planted, seen in Atlas’ CHI indexes. The most comparable low performing year to 2019 is 2012, when drought and excessive heat brought record low yields throughout the U.S. – but even that year showed a better crop health around this timeframe. There are still a variety of factors that could cause the crop to resurge, including a late frost, a soft frost over a hard frost, or favorable summer weather, to name just a few. There have even been past years – such as 2013 – when a late start led to a strong crop. But there is no predicting likelihood of these events.
Indigo will continue watching the models within Atlas, reporting back within the next month with a revised estimate on planted acres in the U.S. As the season progresses, and we see more emergence, our models will shift from rotation-based predictions (leveraging historical data to understand planted acres) to imagery-based predictions (identifying crop type based on spectral signature). This will allow the slight range for corn and soybeans to narrow.
Where does our data come from?
To arrive at the estimates for planted acres, machine learning tools were used to parse between agricultural lands where crops were planted and where soils were either too porous or too moist to allow planting. Atlas then compared these areas to over a decade’s worth of historical data, using a predictive sequence to determine whether an acre of corn or an acre of soy had been planted at this point in 2019.
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