Pro Farmer Crop Tour Begins Today

The 31st annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour gets going Monday. AgriTalk host Chip Flory is again leading the western leg of the crop tour and says they’ll cover a lot of miles.

“The tour is going to be leaving Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Monday morning and make our way down to Grand Island, Nebraska. From Grand Island, Nebraska, to Nebraska City for day two. Day three is Nebraska City to Spencer, Iowa, and then Day Four is Spencer to Rochester, Minnesota, where we will hook up with the eastern leg team. On the western leg of the tour, we’ll be running ten different routes, we’ll have about 50 scouts with us, and we’re going to split up the work the best that we possibly can. We’ll stop about every 15 to 20 miles along those routes and pull a corn sample, pull a soybean sample, and deliver all the information back to the data team. At eight o’clock each evening, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, we will be releasing the data from that day.”

They’ll release the final U.S. crop yield projections on Friday. Flory says this year’s tour might be one of their warmest in recent memory.

“I can tell you this; it’s going to be a hot one this year, and we’re going to do our best to split up the route and make the work as easy as we possibly can. You have got to let it be a discovery process and kind of an investigation into the corn and soybean yield potential out there. This is going to be my 31st tour. You never want to assume too much from what you’re seeing individually out on the road. You want to wait till the end of the day and get all of the samples in from the tour area that day before you really pass any judgment on what that crop is.”

Flory says they’re going to see a lot of fields hurt by drought.

“I think some of the wet weather issues that we will spot happened early in the season, and we’ll see those in Minnesota on day four. But we have to remember that the western Corn Belt has been in a drought all year. It looks really good from the road in spots, and we’re going to be in some fabulous, irrigated corn in Nebraska. But I think we’re going to see plenty of drought-related issues in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa as well.”

Flory has been involved with the crop tour for three decades and talks about his favorite part of the yearly event.

“The people. That’s the thing that I enjoy about the tour the most. But when it comes to what we’re actually doing out on the road, it’s that discovery process. It’s the investigation into what is going on out here. I still find that very rewarding. I think it provides a heck of a good service for growers out there who are trying to make business decisions.”

Day one of the western leg will finish up in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Leg begins Monday in Dublin, Ohio.

“We will be pulling samples from across seven Cornbelt States over the course of the next four days, and we will pull roughly about 700 corn samples and close to 1700 soybean samples.  It’ll give us a really good snapshot of what the yield potential is here in the third week of August for both the corn and soybean crops.” 

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete says they will release daily state-by-state corn yield estimates and soybean pod counts ahead of Friday’s U.S. final crop yield projections.

“Everything Monday through Thursday is pure data, just raw data out of fields and put into spreadsheets and released on a state-by-state basis. The Friday estimates incorporate the Crop Tour Data in addition to all the areas outside of where we sampled, including weather, acreage changes, how we think crops will finish and all those types of factors.” 

Volunteer scouts are given a route and will stop at least once per county, or every 12-15 miles and follow an established sample pulling procedure. One of the longtime scouts is Mike Berdo, who farms in Washington County, Iowa and says he’s seen a lot of variability over the years.

I’ve seen really good corn in Ohio on some pretty thin dirt, and some pretty poor corn in the heart of Illinois flat black dirt. I’ve really seen a variety over the years.” 

He says he enjoys meeting new scouts each year and serves as a driver, going into Crop Tour with an objective, open mind on the crop condition and status.

“I know what’s going on around here in Southeast Iowa, East-Central Iowa, but I have no clue what’s going on in Central Illinois or Central Nebraska for the Western guys.  That’s what makes it interesting, it’s something new, you never know.  It’s like opening presents on Christmas morning, you never know what you’re going to get!” 

Day one of the Eastern Leg concludes in the Indianapolis area where scouts will gather for their nightly meeting to compare notes, release results and prepare for the next outing.