Crop Tour 2019 is about to start, and we couldn’t be more excited about the team of scouts that have joined us this year. With 55 scouts on the western leg and 65 on the eastern leg, the boots will hit the fields Monday morning with anticipation of this year being different than any other year. Not only because of the speculation of what we’ll find in the fields, but also because many of the scouts on the tour are farmers themselves and know this has been one of the most challenging years they have seen in many.
We have wiped all preconceptions from our minds as we start the week and do the same process we’ve done since 1993, when the first tour hit the road the third week of August. I like to say it’s all because my dad, Chip Flory, needed to take a break from the 1 ½ year old torment of a child I was, so he decided to jump in the truck with a bunch of buddies to go ‘see how the crops look’. Never once did he think this tour would turn into what it is today. This is now my eighth tour and every year is different, but our process is not. We have scouts take the same routes, do the same corn and bean yield calculations, and present the same information each night. Each night you can expect to receive district averages from the yield estimates we took that day in each state. On Monday night we will release the average yield from the stops made in South Dakota and Ohio. For corn, we record the following: average total ears scouted in a 60’ row, average grain inches and kernel rows around on the 5th, 8th, and 11th ears, average row spacing, and if it was an irrigated field. For beans you’ll receive pods in 3 ft, average number of plants, soil moisture rating, plant maturity rating, pods in 3’x3’, average row width, and number of irrigated fields. Read Jeff Wilson’s report to get an in-depth overview of our scouting procedure.
With this year being one for the record books already, we have a lot of reports coming in already letting us know some of the agronomic issues we’ll find on the tour. We’re not only taking yield estimates while in fields but also actively looking for disease, insect pressure, and weed problem areas. This year we’ve heard to be on the lookout for Southern Rust, Gray Leaf Spot, Northern Corn Leaf Blight, in all states and potentially Tar Spot in Illinois. Southern Rust will be our main lookout in Nebraska to see how far north it has moved. We’ll also be on the lookout for Soybean Gall Midge in Nebraska and Iowa as it’s became a very impactful pest issue. Water hemp is always a point of discussion as escapes usually start to poke through the bean canopies around this time every year. We’ll run into Palmer Amaranth in spots along the tour especially in drowned out areas. Storm damage from some of the July wind storms will also be observed on how impactful they have been and how much yield has really been lost. What we hope to accomplish by observing all of these is to see if they compare to years past and are having a larger impact on yield than anticipated.
Every night you can expect a scout report from myself and Jeff Wilson for the western leg of the tour where we’ll recap the day, dive into what scouts saw, and how the numbers align with years past. We’ll be in Grand Island, NE on Monday night, Nebraska City, NE on Tuesday, Spencer, IA on Wednesday, and we’ll wrap up the tour in Rochester on Thursday night.
We hope to see many growers at the nightly meetings and to hear from them about what they expect their own crops to yield compared to normal. At the end of the week, the team from Pro Farmer will take all the data collected on the tour and will put their judgement on what they assume the national and state yields will be for corn and soybeans. Those numbers will be released on Friday afternoon at 1:30PM.
We’re looking forward to another successful crop tour where we collect insights that help growers make decisions for their own operations. Stay tuned on Twitter and other social sites for daily updates and commentary from scouts by following #PFTour19.