NASS Explains August Crop Production Numbers

August 14, 2017 12:26 PM

Growers and market analysts alike were left scratching their heads after USDA released their crop production report last week, calling for larger than expected corn and soybean crops. Drawing particular attention was the apparent disconnect between crop conditions reported as lower than year ago but projected yields above this time in 2016.


The man behind those numbers, Lance Honig, chief of crops for USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS),pointed out on the AgriTalk Radio show that crop conditions and crop progress are two different reports, collected by different sets of people asking very different questions.


“Crop condition information comes from a list of reporters that provide that information to us,”  said Honig. “We’re looking at a lot of county extension agents, some other USDA employees and kind of a mix of folks, typically not farmers. Ad what we’re asking them to tell us is…how would you rate the overall condition of the various crops across your county.  That’s a little bit different question than asking somebody what do you expect your yields to be.”



 He  said for this August report, more weight is given to farmer reports than enumerator surveys because there are often no ears to count.


“As a general rule, the earlier in the season it is  the more weight is going to shift to the farmer reports,” Honig explained. “If the crop’s not as mature, that means from an objective yield standpoint, hopefully we’re counting ears. We might be counting stalks. But even more important, when it comes to determining an ear weight, we’re going to have virtually no actual ear weight to base that on. So we’re going to shift a lot more value to what the farmers are telling us.”


Honig  said more than 21,500 farmers were surveyed for the August crop production report. 


Listen to the entire AgriTalk interview by clicking on the player above.

Back to news


Spell Check

Dale Holt
Abilene, KS
8/15/2017 08:03 AM

  How does asking other government employees instead of farmers about farmers predicted yields give an accurate account? This sounds like it was a windshield view of crops instead of walking the fields. This sounds like people with a possible interest in the market are in control of production reports. We had a neighbor the other day who said "you have some nice looking beans". That means nothing where yield is concerned. Farming is the ONLY job where you BUY RETAIL, SELL WHOLESALE, and have NO CONTROL ON EITHER END with price. Its no wander that young people are not wanting to get into farming. What is going to happen when all us old guys are gone?

Big Jim
Westren, ND
8/15/2017 09:09 AM

  What a load of bs. Get the usda out of manipulating and ruining our lives. We have 1/4 of last years crop and apparently doesn't matter. It's not a small area. We farmers are the oldest business in the world and are the current slaves of our government. How can we ever prosper?....

Allan Worrell
Jacksonville, IL
8/14/2017 06:15 PM

  I have a hard time buying that. I have yet to talk to a grower or producer in this state or others that think their crop is anywhere near last year. I am in the heart of the corn belt and we will be a lot more reduced than 6 bu/ac. Hard to believe that other areas are good enough to compensate. Really don't buy the explanation at all.