The “goal” of Crop Tour isn’t to prove or disprove USDA’s August crop estimates, but the comparisons are inevitable. Lance Honig, Crops Branch chief for USDA’s NASS, will be at the nightly meetings in Nebraska City (Aug. 20), Iowa City (Aug. 21) and the finale in Rochester (Aug. 22) to answer question’s about USDA’s latest crop estimates.
The lateness of the crop and the high level of uncertainty this year puts even greater attention on what we find as we sample roughly 3,000 corn and soybean fields across the Corn Belt Aug. 19-22. Still, we’ll do what we do every year on Crop Tour — give the industry a realistic idea of yield potential across the seven Tour states.
Where to get up-to-date information from Tour
There will be exclusive daily route reports from Tour leaders on www.profarmer.com/crop-tour. You can also access daily Tour results each evening and compare this year’s Tour data to last year and the three-year average.
Brian Grete and Eastern Tour Consultant Mark Bernard, and Jeff Wilson and Western Tour Consultant Emily Carolan, will provide daily commentary in “From the Rows” on www.profarmer.com. Also, tune in to AgriTalk each day at 10:06 a.m. and 2:06 p.m. CT on www.agweb.com/agritalk or the AgriTalk app, or your favorite farm radio station to hear a Crop Tour update from Chip Flory and Davis Michaelsen.
Search #PFTour19 on Twitter to get Tour-related tweets and follow @BGrete, @JWilson29, @ChipFlory, @emily_floryag14 and @MNWeedWizard for tweets from the field each day. Follow @MeghanVick for daily Tour results. You can also find daily reports on Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones newswires.
Compare with last year; apply the historical difference!
The best analysis of this year’s data will be to compare state-by-state results to last year’s Tour, with close attention to the percentage change. Also, apply the historical difference for each state! We know the yield calculated during Crop Tour will be different than USDA’s final yield for each state. Fortunately, we know by how much on average.
The historical difference is the result of where the Tour travels. Examples: In Nebraska, about 60% of the corn crop is irrigated, but Crop Tour samples include only about 40% irrigated fields. In Minnesota, we cover only the highest yielding southern districts. There are reasons for the differences and understanding them makes Tour yields valuable.
On soybeans... no yield, but lots of data!
The number of pods it takes to make a bushel is different in each state. Instead, we calculate the number of pods in a 3X3-foot square. Compare pod counts to past Tour data to get an indication about the size of this year’s yield “factory.”