All eyes are on the August 12 Crop Production report as farmers and market analysts try to figure out exactly what’s going on with the 2019 crop. How many acres were actually planted? What kind of yield potential is there? These are all questions that will be answered in part by the August report.
Lance Honig, USDA-National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) crops branch chief, says there will be more data included in this report than ever before, including the resurvey announced in June, satellite data and, for the first time ever, FSA acreage certification information.
“There's more that's going to go into the numbers in August than just the resurvey work as well,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory. “We're fortunate that as we get to August 12, we're going to have an opportunity to look at some FSA certified acres information. Is it going to be final? No, probably not. But it's going to be complete enough that we can gauge something from that.”
The statisticians will also consider satellite data, something Honig says is near impossible at the end of June particularly in a year like this one.
“But here in the next couple of weeks, we're going to be able to actually measure some acres with the satellites,” he said.
While the satellites will pick up any corn acres that were planted as cover crops after prevented plant, Honig said that doesn’t really matter for the crop production report.
“Corn planted is corn planted,” he said. “You know, you don't get into the usage until you get into the harvest side of things. And of course, there we are looking at a harvest of acreage for grain. Eventually, we're going to look at it siloed specifically, but planted area for corn is and always has been all corn, regardless of the intended use.”
A big factor in the August report is the resurvey work USDA is in the process of completing. USDA surveyors are going “field by field” through all of the fields identified in the 14 resurveyed states to find out exactly what happened.
“If it's corn, we're going to find out not only how many acres were planted, but we're gonna get some information about ‘Okay, what do you intend to do with that corn?’” he explains.
FSA acreage certification information will also play a role in the August crop production report, something that NASS has not done before.
“If you look at a at a normal year, we don't even address planted acreage until October because historically, that's when that certified data has become pretty much complete. So, we don't want to be making too many, fine-tuning adjustments based on preliminary data. But we're in a different place this year,” he explained. “We're in a position where in August we are going to need to re-evaluate planted areas, because we've got this research a work going on. So, while we're doing that, we're going to consider every piece of information that we have available to us. And one of those pieces of information is going to be the certified acres data. Now, how complete is it going to be? That's going to be the challenge as we look at that data.”
Also new to this year’s August report is the lack of objective yield data. A few months ago the agency decided they would skip objective yield data gathering because the crops aren’t usually ready to gather any information that’s very useful. That’s especially true this year, Honig said.
“In August, generally speaking, objective yield information that you get out in the fields, the crops not that developed. The best data that we've had historically in August has come from the farmers not from the objective yield,” he explained. “So that'll continue to be the case and, and you know, a lot of folks I think look at it and say, ‘Wow, what a terrible year. It's turned out to be too, you know, not have that objective yield.’ You could almost look at it the other way. ‘Good grief, the crops even less developed than it usually is in August. So, what would have we really captured if we were out there in the fields taking those counts and measurements now?’”
While Honig said more information is always better given the choice, he doesn’t think the lack of objective data will have a major impact on their ability to set a yield forecast.