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From the Editor

RSS By: Brian Grete, Pro Farmer

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete takes time to talk with Pro Farmer Members about some of the key issues in each week's Pro Farmer newsletter.

What is a 'better-than-expected' yield?

Sep 27, 2013

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

We're getting some early harvest results in and most of the corn yield reports are "good." (I know... that doesn't tell you much. Does it?) It's that time of the year when we get to wade through piles of yield reports that attempt to describe yields, but often times add confusion rather than clarity for market participants. I don't mean to "scold" anybody for any harvest reports they've published either on web sites or on Twitter, but I do want to offer up some suggestions on information to include in harvest reports in order to put some perspective on what actual yields might mean for national average corn and soybean yields.

"Better than expected."

That one's my favorite... how do I know what you expected? Or... better yet... how do you know what I expected? It's easy to improve this one: "Yield is 150 bu. per acre, better than the 140 I expected when I opened the field."

"Better than average."

That's a little better than "better than expected," but not much. Again... it's easy to improve: "Yield is 150 bu. per acre, 10 bu. better than field APH."

"Good," "Average" and "Poor"

Those are all good words to use in describing yields, but only if we know the yield potential (or APH) for the field. A "good" corn yield on an Illinois field with an APH of 135 bu. per acre will still be pulling the state average yield down... even if it is "good" for that field.

Yield reporting made simple --

My favorite harvest reports read something like this:

"Bremer Co. IA: 200-acre field beat its 150 APH by 12 bu. Moisture is 18% and TW is 53-54 lbs. I thought yield and TW would be a bit better."

That report example isn't a snapshot of a field. It drives me crazy when I see "My yield monitor says 220 right now!" A better yield monitor report is something like, "Half done with an 80-acre field and yield monitor average is 150. What's left in field will be better. 160 APH ."

The key to a "good" harvest report is to give a benchmark. And the best benchmark to give, in my opinion, is the APH.

All of those comments are in preparation for...

... what is sure to be a flood of yield reports over the next 2 weeks. I don't want to get all stereotypical on farmers, but corn and soybean yields are almost always better than expected. That's because farmers instinctively stay conservative with expectations and are "surprised" when yield monitors and scale tickets prove their expectations too low. Therefore, they report "better than expected" yields.

But just because yields are better than expected, that doesn't mean yields are better than USDA has estimated or even better than we've estimated. It could mean that... but in doesn't necessarily mean that. Most important, it doesn't mean yields are better than markets have factored into current prices.

Everybody loves harvest reports... hours are spent reading crop comments on various web sites and in 140-character bites on Twitter. Which reminds me... the above example of what I like to see in a harvest report has 139 characters (including spaces), so a harvest report with location (Bremer Co., IA), that is quantifiable (200-acre field), has a benchmark (150 APH), reports the yield (beat 150 APH by 12 bu.), includes some "extra" info (moisture and TW) and even mentions how the yield compares to expectations can be done quickly and in a tweet.

That's it for now...

I've scheduled another sky-scouting trip for Oct. 1, so watch for my video reports again next week!

Follow me on Twitter at @ChipFlory

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