From the Rows - Chip Flory - Tour History

August 19, 2012 06:10 AM
 

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 www.profarmer.com and www.agweb.com. 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 AgWeb.com and in the "newsletter" section on www.profarmer.com. 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.

Also... go ahead and dissect all the state data, but the final table is the most important. That table shows you the "All-Samples" results. That's when we put all the samples from the entire Tour and calculate one average. The consistency of that data is truly impressive (details below).

Ohio - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour calculated yield has been 3.0 bu. below USDA's final yield for the state. So if you're into playing the average, you should add 3.0 bu. to this year's Crop Tour results to get closer to USDA's final. However, Crop Tour results the last two years have been closer than the average.

OHIO
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
158.0
156.26
2010
163.0
165.60
2009
174.0
159.73
2008
135.0
148.75
2007
150.0
144.31

 

Indiana - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour calculated yield has been 2.3 bu. below USDA's final yield for the state. When you see the Crop Tour final data for Indiana, add 2.3 bu. per acre to get closer to USDA's final.
 

INDIANA
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
146.0
143.10
2010
157.0
167.06
2009
171.0
157.35
2008
160.0
163.82
2007
154.0
148.95

 

Illinois - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour calculated yield in Illinois has been 1.8 bu. too high. When you see the Crop Tour final data, subtract 1.8 bu. per acre to (on average) get closer to USDA's final.
 

ILLINOIS
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
157.0
155.99
2010
157.0
166.53
2009
174.0
167.17
2008
179.0
166.94
2007
175.0
176.65


Iowa - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour calculated yield in Iowa has been 4.3 bu. per acre too low. Add those bu. to the Crop Tour results. The consistency on this data is pretty darn good.

IOWA
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
172.0
167.67
2010
165.0
168.33
2009
182.0
180.97
2008
171.0
169.39
2007
171.0
167.67

 

Minnesota - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour has measured the Minnesota crop 12.6 bu. per acre too high. That's because the Tour travels only through the higher-yielding portion of the state in the southern three crop districts. So when you see the Crop Tour results, subtract about 12.6 bu. per acre.

MINNESOTA
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
156.0
175.93
2010
177.0
185.46
2009
174.0
185.31
2008
164.0
178.35
2007
146.0
169.07

 

Nebraska - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour has measured the Nebraska crop 15.3 bu. per acre too low. That's because the corn crop in Nebraska is 60% irrigated and 40% dryland. Because all the sampling we do is in the eastern half of Nebraska, the crop there is about 40% irrigated and 60% dryland, which is about the mix of the Nebraska samples we pull.
 

NEBRASKA
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
160.0
153.70
2010
166.0
158.29
2009
178.0
158.82
2008
163.0
141.82
2007
160.0
147.31

 

South Dakota - On average since 2001, the Crop Tour has measured the South Dakota crop 5.9 bu. per acre too high. That's because all samples are pulled from the higher-yielding southeast corner of the state. Take those bushels off the Crop Tour results to get closer to USDA's final.
 

S. Dakota
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
132.0
141.10
2010
135.0
143.59
2009
151.0
146.96
2008
133.0
147.62
2007
121.0
112.13

 

7-State Average - I really like the consistency of this data. On average since 2001 the simple average of all samples has been 7.1 above USDA's national average corn yield. Which makes sense... when sampling yields in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska, the average of those samples should be higher than the national average. Unfortunately, we don't calculate this average until after the Crop Tour is officially over. We'll release the average as soon as we can.
 

7-State Avg.
USDA Final
Crop Tour Calculated Yield
2011
147.2
158.75
2010
152.8
167.30
2009
164.7
169.56
2008
153.9
161.94
2007
150.7
158.50

 

On soybeans... no yield, but lots of data!

There are too many variables in a soybean yield estimate to evaluate on a tour like this. But we do count pods and calculate the number of pods in a 3X3-foot square. That gives us a good idea of how much of the "bean production factory" is up and running. Compare pod counts to past Tour results to get an idea of yield potential.

Pro Farmer crop and yield estimates are released Friday after the Crop Tour is officially over. We obviously use the Tour data in making the estimate, but the estimates will be different than indicated by the Tour results because we make adjustments based on the historical differences. Other scouts on the Tour will also release estimates using the Crop Tour data and those will undoubtedly be different that the Pro Farmer estimates. The difference are the result of differing analysis of the data.

We've been darn close some years, but there are some bigger misses in our history, too. Last year, we estimated the national average corn yield at 147.9 bu. per acre and USDA's final estimate was 147.2 bu. per acre.

 

 

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