From the Rows
This year marks my first Crop Tour where I'm sampling fields. In the past, I've been in the office sorting through numbers as dozens of data sheets poured in at the end of each day. While sampling dozens of fields is definitely more physically taxing, I don't miss having to do the data sheets. Let's just say not everyone on Tour is the neatest writer this world has seen. Some are downright terrible. So, from a mental perspective, taking samples is definitely easier.
Day 1 observations: I had the pleasure of spending the day with two veteran scouts (one of which is an agronomist) and one rookie from New Jersey. Between the four of us, we took 24 corn samples and 24 soybean samples in eastern South Dakota and northeastern and north-central Nebraska. Needless to say, we hustled to pull in that many samples and still make it to Grand Island, Nebraska, in time for the evening meeting. In all, most of our corn samples were very solid, especially in South Dakota. If there was a disappointment on corn, it was on some of the Nebraska corn samples. For soybeans, pod counts were lighter than we generally expected from the road. That's why we don't do a "windshield" tour and actually get out in fields and take samples. Overall, plant health was very good on our route, especially for corn. We also had very little insect problems aside from a couple of fields which had heavy aphid infestation.
Day 1 general musings from the Tour:
* Volunteer corn in soybeans and volunteer soybeans in corn is relatively common throughout eastern South Dakota and eastern Nebraska this year -- at least on the route we traveled. We actually pulled some ears from volunteer corn that were better than one Tour route found of one of it's corn samples. As one scout put it, "They sure have the double-cropping figured out."
* As we were eating lunch, the agronomist in our group proclaimed with excitement that the baggie his dinner roll came in would be perfect for collecting bug samples. Only an agronomist's mind works that way.
* A road construction site is a perfect spot for a sample stop. As we approached the stopped traffic, we pulled off the road, quickly scampered into the adjacent corn and soybean fields, pulled samples and made it back to the vehicle in time catch the pace truck. Very efficient use of a construction stop.
* Our rookie scout from New Jersey came out of a heavily populated corn field this morning and proclaimed, "I've been in the Amazon once and the jungle there has nothing on this corn field."
* The same guy from New Jersey ordered salmon for lunch -- very likely the only time he will get a chance to order salmon on Tour. I've just got two words -- red meat! Us Midwesterners are redmeatavores.
For Day 2, apparently I drew the short straw. I get to travel west out of Grand Island before turning around and heading east to Nebraska City.