Hello from the western leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour!!
30 volunteer scouts gathered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, tonight for the start of the 2009 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour sponsored by Pioneer. We've got an excellent mix of "veteran" and "rookie" scouts ready to hit the field Monday morning.
Scouts on the western leg of the Tour are excited about the 2009 Tour. Why? Because we're expecting to see some great corn and great soybeans in the western Corn Belt! Most of the scouts on the western leg of the Tour have been here before... and they've seen an unbelievable variety of crop conditions. While there are some "dry" areas in the western Belt, expectations are we'll see very good potential for corn and soybean yields.
Now... and we know this isn't always the best indication of yield potential, but there is some thing we pay close attention to on the ride out to Sioux Calls... and that's how the median in the interstate and the many pastures we pass along the way "look." The greeness of these two "indicators" gives us an idea of how crops will be once we stop and visit fields. Normally in the third week of August, medians and pastures are brown and in need of rain. That's why there are so many pivot irrigation systems in this "hilly" part of the world. This year, the medians are green... and so are the pastures. The "potholes" are full of water and we even saw a few ducks that looked like they've spent the breeding season in the area.
But, a lot of that water has fallen in the last week or so. So... it will be interesting to see how the crops survived a period of dry conditions leading up to "Tour time."
And just as a reminder, you'll be seeing results flowing from the Tour throughout the week. And those results will be the calculated corn yield and the calculated number of pods per 3'X3' square. Keep in mind, there are "historical" errors that must be considered when looking at the Tour results. In South Dakota, for example, the calculated yield from the Tour has been (on average, since 2001) 6.44 bu. above the final estimate for the state from USDA. Simply put, that means -- on average -- you've got to subtract about 6-and-a-half bushels from the Tour results for South Dakota.
What that means is we know some adjustments must be made to what we find on Tour to get us closer to what USDA's final yield estimate will be for the state. That's just adjusting for the historical error in each state to bring the Tour results closer in line with reality.
We've got a great group of scouts with us on the western leg of the Tour. We've got several veteran scouts with us, and we're running 8 routes through southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska. We sample just a "sliver" of South Dakota and we sample everything east of highway 281 to the Missouri River and north of the Platte River in Nebraska on the first day of the Tour. We look forward to bringing you the details of what we find... and I hope you look forward to hearing about what we find.
I'll update you late Monday night with the final results of what we find in South Dakota, and I'll give you a preview of what we're discovering in Nebraska. It's going to be a great trip!