Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin DTN Contributing Analyst

Thursday 10/11/12

Historical Soybean Pod Count Revisions vs. Yields

The USDA in its September crop report indicated in a graphic that the average pod count in the ten objective states it uses for sample plots contained an average of 1,460 soybean pods per an 18 square foot region.

This is far lower than the 2004-2011 average that we estimate to be around 1,800 pods per an 18 square foot area.

The far lower than normal number of pods is directly attributable to this summer’s drought where extreme dryness and record heat inhibited the flowering and pod development stages.

However, the derived average pod weight was reported close to 0.275 grams per pod and that is above the prior two years and on par with 2004 and 2008.

It seems incongruous that the number of pods would be below average but the pods themselves weighed the same or higher than in recent years.

The USDA reports the number of pods in an 18 square foot area from the September report all the way to the final report in January for ten large producing states.

The accompanying graphic shows the average percent change in the number of pods per 18 square feet from the September to the final estimate for the top ten objective states using data from 2004-2011.

We then take this percent change and apply to the Sep yield to see what final yields will be assuming that the implied pod weight given in the September report does not change.

Note with the exception of OH, all other states tend to see pod counts increase in subsequent crop reports.

Doing this little exercise does show yields increasing but by no more than three bpa and in most cases just by one bpa.

The point here is with the USDA already using an average pod weight and weather conditions suggesting this is more than reasonable, the usual percent increase in pod numbers augurs for just a modest 1-2 bpa increase in yield, not the 4-5 that has been speculated upon.


Posted at 10:19AM CDT 10/11/12
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