Time To Hit The Fields

By: Brian Grete

August  15,  2014

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

We'll embark on our 22nd Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour next week. We have a record number of scouts on Tour again this year, which will allow us to collect roughly 2,600 corn and soybean samples from the seven states that produce around 70% of U.S. corn and soybean production. Market-watchers will closely monitor Tour results to see if what we find in fields from across the Corn Belt lives up to their lofty expectations. I encourage you to stay up-to-date with the data, as well. The easiest way is to go to your www.profarmer.com website, where we'll have state-by-state Tour results. But you'll also have access to Member-exclusive reports from Tour leaders and hand-picked scouts. Also, tune into “Market Rally with Chip Flory” each day at 2:06 p.m. CT at www.marketrallyradio.com and turn on your favorite farm radio station... you’ll likely hear a Crop Tour update. You can also follow Tour via Twitter by searching for #pftour14. Follow @BGrete, @ChipFlory, @emily_floryag14, @JasonFranckNC, @MNWeedWizard for tweets from the field. Follow @JuliJohnston and @MeghanPedersen for daily Tour results.

How to best use the Tour data

The best analysis of this year’s data will be to compare state-by-state results to last year’s Tour -- pay closest attention to the percentage change from year-ago.

Below Chip Flory and I discuss how to use the data on AgDay TV:

Also, apply the historical difference for each state! We know the yield calculated during Crop Tour will be different than USDA’s final yield estimate for each state. Fortunately, we know by how much (on average). But... this is an average. Some years have been much closer than others. The historical difference is the result of where the Tour travels. For example: In Nebraska, about 60% of the corn crop is irrigated, but the mix of Crop Tour samples from Nebraska includes only about 40% irrigated fields. There are reasons for the differences and understanding them makes Tour yields valuable.

Since 2001, our historical "miss" versus USDA's final corn yield for each state is: Ohio ADD 3.9 bu.; Indiana ADD 1.6 bu.; Illinois SUBTRACT 2.2 bu.; Iowa ADD 3.1 bu.; Minnesota SUBTRACT 11.6 bu.; Nebraska ADD 14.9 bu.; S. Dakota SUBTRACT 4.8 bu.; 7-State SUBTRACT 7.14 bushels. On average since 2001, the yield calculated from all corn samples has been 7.14 bu. above USDA’s final national average corn yield. (The average yield from the seven Tour states -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska -- should pull up the national average yield!

There are too many variables in soybean yields to evaluate on Crop Tour. But we do count pods and calculate the number of pods in a 3X3-foot square. Compare pod counts to past Tour data to get an idea of this year’s yield potential.

Scout along with us!

While we’re scouting fields across the Corn Belt Aug. 18-21, you can participate with your own corn data via the Pro Farmer Virtual Crop Tour at www.virtualcroptour.com. This will help you compare your yields to potential yields from across the Corn Belt, and it will help us get a deeper view of the corn crop.

In each corn field — (Get past the end rows and then take 35 paces into the field.)

• At the 35th pace, lay out a 30-foot plot and count all the ears that will make grain on two 30-foot rows.
• From one of those two rows, pull the 5th, 8th and 11th ears. This gives us a consistently random process to select sample ears.
• Measure the length of grain (in inches, rounded to the nearest one-quarter inch) on each ear (don’t measure blank cob).
• Count the number of kernel rows around on each ear.
• Record the row width in the field.
• To calculate the estimated yield, take the average number of ears in 30-foot of row TIMES the average length of grain per ear TIMES the average number of kernel rows around; DIVIDE the total by row width.

Example: 50 ears X 6.5 inches X 16.7 kernel rows / 30 inch rows = 180.9 This example gives you an estimated yield at that spot in the field of 180.9 bu. per acre.

Enter your collected data at www.virtualcroptour.com

In each soybean field — (Pick a ‘representative spot’ in the field.)

• Measure a 3-foot plot and count all the plants in the plot. Randomly select three plants. Count all the pods on those three plants and calculate the average number of pods per plant.
• Multiply the average number of pods per plant by the number of plants in the 3-foot plot. Multiply that number by 36, and divide by row width.

Example: 14 plants X 32 pods/plant X 36 / 15 inch rows = 1,075.2 pods in a 3’X3’ square. Compare your results to what we find on Tour.

NOTE: Given all of the talk about secondary corn ears this year, that will be a focal point. We’ll instruct scouts to count only the ears that will make grain. If a secondary ear is the 5th, 8th or 11th ear in our sample plot, it will be measured for grain length and kernel rows around, and recorded as a sample ear

That's it for now...

... have a great weekend!

Follow me on Twitter at @BGrete

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