MIT Tech Review: Crystal Ball for Corn Crop Yields Will Revolutionize Commodity Trading.

October 12, 2016

This morning, at 9am EST, subscribers to the Kernel BETA from TellusLabs received the final daily yield forecasts for this growing season: 52.1 Bu/Ac and 173.1 Bu/Ac for US soybeans and corn, respectively. As has been widely reported, growing conditions throughout much of the midwest have been excellent this year, which is captured in our satellite imagery-derived forecasts.

At noon EST the USDA released its October production Report. This report updates their September corn and soybean forecasts to 51.4 Bu/Ac and 173.4 Bu/Ac, which are 0.8 Bu/Ac higher and 0.7 Bu/Ac lower, respectively, than the USDA September production report.

TellusLabs Kernel BETA forecast for US Corn

TellusLabs Kernel BETA forecast for US Soy

Our revised Kernel dashboards from this afternoon reflect the new government data and provide a powerful illustration of the accuracy and timeliness of the Kernel BETA forecasts. As is clear from the time series view on the dashboard (lower right), Kernel forecasts for both corn and soy were ahead of today’s government revisions by more than two weeks. The current deltas between TellusLabs and USDA in this last day of the beta program are quite modest: +0.7 Bu/Ac or +1.3% for soybeans and -0.3 Bu/Ac or -0.2% for corn.

Our Kernel yield outlooks are not only of comparable accuracy to USDA monthly reports, they are at higher spatial granularity (county and better), higher cadence (daily), and lower lags (24-48 hours). And of course, our reports have a healthy lead time (typically two weeks) versus the monthly reports. For example, the TellusLabs forecast for soy (initially released on August 22nd) was above 50 Bu/Ac since August 25th and above 51 Bu/Ac since September 8th. Similarly, the Kernel forecast for corn (initially released on August 10th) has been above 170 Bu/Ac since August 24th and above 172 Bu/Ac since September 23rd. We achieve these results by combining space-based observations, high resolution weather, and other geo-data with leading-edge machine learning algorithms, a strong technology stack, and a lot of domain expertise.

We’re currently taking pre-orders for access to the Kernel catalog in 2017, which will include South American forecasts and new models for wheat.  Go to the Kernel page to provide basic registration details, and you’ll receive a follow-up pre-registration survey from the team.  Or simply write us at

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