by Anna-Lisa Laca
Each night of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, scout sample data is compiled and released. While the data is an extremely accurate representation of what scouts saw in the field for that day, it will not be exactly the same as the official Pro Farmer yield estimates released on Friday.
According to AgriTalk host and Crop Tour veteran, Chip Flory, in a year like 2019, the tour data measures the best-case scenario for corn and the worst-case scenario for soybeans.
“When we're out on tour, and we're looking at a mature corn crop, we are measuring actual yield,” he explained on AgriTalk Thursday. “When we're looking a crop that is as immature and as far behind and still has as much work to do as this one has to do. We are measuring that, yield potential.”
If samples are pulled from two fields, with one planted at the end of April and one planted in June, the later would be just past blister stage and the earlier would be entering the dent stage.
“When we measure that grain length, when we count the kernel rows and the populations, we're not accounting for any of the difference in the maturity in those basic raw numbers,” he said. “We need to understand that, and likely make some adjustments [in the official Pro Farmer estimate] to what the what this crop is going to be able to do going forward.”
Without a crystal ball to know exactly what the weather will do over the next five weeks, Flory said we must assume a normal finish to the crop.
“In some cases, that means we're going to take the top end off both the corn and potentially some of the soybeans out there,” he said adding a normal first frost date in Minnesota, South Dakota, northwest Iowa, northeast Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana and eastern Illinois could change the yield picture.
Worst-case for soybeans
While tour data shows the best-case scenario on corn, in soybeans the data shows the worst-case scenario because the tour looks at the number of pods in a 3x3 square, according to Flory.
“We're looking at how much of the bean production factory is up and running,” he says. “When we get these low pod counts on a slow-to-develop, late-planted bean crop, you've got to understand that this bean crop, if you give it the right conditions, can do more than what the pod counts are indicating.”
All of these factors including, maturity and other observations, made by scouts throughout the week are included in Pro Farmer’s official yield estimates.
“We need to keep that in mind, so I think we're measuring a worst-case scenario with pod counts, best case scenario with the yields,” he says. “There's lots of observations that go into the Pro Farmer crop estimate that are not in the very sterile numbers that we put out from crop tour.”