The One Piece of Data Analysts Want to See from Pro Farmer Crop Tour

Posted on 08/15/2019 11:31 AM

This year might go down as the year of immature crops. The latest USDA Crop Progress Report shows only 23% of the nation’s corn crop was at dough stage as of last Monday, 19 percentage points behind average, and 21 percentage points behind last year.

With such an immature crop, 2019 Pro Farmer Crop Tour scouts will have their work cut out for them this year. That’s why some analysts say there’s one piece of data they really want to see from crop tour: ear counts.

“We've had so much corn planted too late, we had a lot of it planted in bad conditions, we had a lot of time between planning dates and emergence, I want to see population counts,” Ed Prosser, of the Scoular Company told U.S. Farm Report. “It's going to be the best data that comes out of there, even if it's immature.”

Prosser acknowledges scouts will have a hard time counting the size of the ears in some areas, but he says as the scouts wade through fields, plant populations will be a key finding, something Jarod Creed of JC Marketing Services is also interested in seeing.

“Measuring potential, at least in my mind, is going to let other scouts and me really know what the downside risk is to this crop,” said Creed, who also participates in the tour each year. “Perhaps maybe we find some really good surprises out there, and at the end of the day, I want to see if the law of averages wins out. I want to get these thousands of samples together and really see if we are as bad as expected or maybe somewhere in between.”


Prosser and Creed think even though the tour will measure more potential than actual yield, this year’s Pro Farmer Crop Tour has the potential to be a market mover.

“The market is going to have this big data dump on Monday, then it comes back the next Monday starts the tour, and it's going to be looking for reinforcements to what the government said or not,” Prosser said. “People are going to pay more attention this year because of the idea that we haven't seen very much from the USDA on yield and certainly not on stand counts either.”

Prosser and Creed know the first part of the tour could produce some the toughest conditions and results, with the potential for crops to get better as the scouts move toward

“There are going to be routes in the East that I guarantee some individuals are going to go from Ohio all the way to Rochester, Minnesota and see the worst corn crop they've ever seen, because they're going to be stuck in a poor route every day,” Creed said.

Creed said on the Western leg, the areas the tour scouts in the southeastern part of the state was a “war zone” this year with tough growing conditions from the start. However, he says as scouts move through Nebraska, he expects some will be impressed by the crop this year.

“The Eastern part of the tour, however, there are going to be some individuals that are going to probably have glazed eyes by the time the trip is over, because legitimately you're going to come across samples on that Eastern tour that's going to have as many zeros as actual samples and times,” said Creed.

Creed said as the law of averages then comes into play, he’s interested to see what the data produces in the end.

2019 Pro Farmer Crop tour kicks off Monday, August 19 in Ohio and South Dakota. Each night, scouts and Pro Farmer leads will hold meetings to hash out what they saw and provide final numbers for states. 

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