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From the Rows - Chip Flory - Tour History

August 19, 2012
By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Pro Farmer Editorial Director

Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour History

I had a question on Twitter this morning about this history of the Tour, so I thought I'd throw together a fairly detailed piece about how close the Crop Tour calculated yields have been to USDA's final for each state. I pulled some information from this week's Pro Farmer newsletter and included some extra details.

This year marks the 20th year of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour! This year, crop stress has been well documented and USDA has already slashed yields from early season expectations. That means market-watchers will look to the Tour for confirmation of yield declines. But this year we’ve added a task: Veteran scouts and farmers will do their best to assess abandoned acres. They’ll make note of chopped and destroyed fields and compare 2012 to observations on past Tours and include that perspective at evening meetings each night.

Where to get ‘on-the-fly’ information from Tour —

Start at and The Midwest Crop Tour has its own page on AgWeb and will deliver written, audio and video reports from AgWeb editors. For reports from specific locations, check the interactive map on the AgWeb Crop Tour homepage. Western Tour director Chip Flory and western agronomic consultant Jason Franck and eastern Tour director Brian Grete and agronomic consultant Mark Bernard will each provide daily commentary in "From the Rows" at and in the "newsletter" section on Turn on your favorite farm radio station while we’re on Tour... you’ll probably hear a report.

Find daily reports on DTN, Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Reuters. Search for #pftour12 on Twitter to get all Tour related tweets and follow @ChipFlory, @BGrete, @Emily_Flory, @JasonFranckNC, @MNWeedWizard for tweets from the field. Follow @JuliJohnston and @MeghanPedersen for Tour results.

Compare to 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 — pay closest attention to the percentage change from year-ago. Apply the historical difference for each state! We know the yield calculated during Crop Tour will be different than USDA’s final yield estimate for each state. Fortunately, we know by how much (on average). But... this is an average. Some years have been much closer to average... but some years have been further off.

The historical difference is the result of where the Tour travels. For example: In Nebraska, about 60% of the corn crop is irrigated, but the mix of Tour samples from Nebraska includes only about 40% irrigated fields. There are reasons for the differences and understanding these makes Tour yields valuable.

Historical Difference - Tour Yield vs. USDA Final (avg. since 2001)

I'll show you the results for each state - and, admittedly, there are some significant differences. One of the biggest variables is the "finish" of the crop. Traditionally, the better the finish for the crop, the closer the Crop Tour results.

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