If you’ve ever wondered how USDA comes up with its yield estimates, you’re not alone. Crop scouts on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour last week peppered the handful of USDA staffers on the tour with questions about the process.
According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) staff, the yield estimates are based on two sources: farmer yield surveys and field data from the agency’s objective yield surveys.
“What you see is what you count, and that’s what you measure. We also ask farmers, ‘What do you think your yield is going to be?’” said Mark Schleusener, a statistician with NASS-Illinois. “With those two different projects together, we can generate a yield forecast for all of the states. Then we use those ear counts we got from field measurements, and we can derive an ear weight for those 10 states that are in the objective yield survey. ”