All eyes will be on the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, which kicks off Aug. 19, to get from-the-field yields estimates.
Predictions for corn and soybeans yields have been all over the board this year, as extreme drought conditions consumed nearly the entire Corn Belt. USDA recently pegged U.S. corn yields at 123.4 bu./acre and soybeans at 36.1 bu./acre.
With these way-below-average yield expectations, data collected during the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour will be vital, to know if the crop is larger or smaller. "We take an objective look at what the yield potential is out there," says Chip Flory, Pro Farmer Editor.
When the more than 200 crop scouts hit the fields next week, Flory says the goal is to take random and consistent samples. "We're not trying to peg the yield in a specific field. We’re trying to peg the yield in one big corn field, which spans from Columbus, Ohio over to Grand Island, Neb., and Redwood Falls, Minn., all the way to Carylinville, Ill."
Listen in as Flory details this year's Tour:
The Impact of the Drought
"This will be the weirdest year we’ve ever had for Crop Tour," says Flory. For the first time, scouts may come across fields that have already been harvested. "If we do get into an area that has been harvested, we’ll see if we can take a look at the yield monitor."
Flory says the Tour runs through the highest production areas of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, southern Minnesota, southeastern South Dakota and eastern half of Nebraska. "We’re not touching the entire drought area. Every stop we make will have seen stress at some point during this growing season. We’re expecting to find some good corn, but intermingled in there will be low production areas."
In the West, Crop Tour scouts will begin in Sioux Falls, S.D., and sample fields along a route that travels through Grand Island, Neb.; Nebraska City, Neb.; Spencer, Iowa and convenes in Owatonna, Minn.
In the East, scouts will meet in Columbus, Ohio, then journey through Fishers, Ind.; Bloomington, Ill.; Iowa City, Iowa and meet up with the other scouts in Owatonna, Minn.
Flory says groups of around four scouts will travel along pre-determined routes and takes around 15 samples of corn and soybeans, every 15 to 20 miles, each day.
"We keep it random by mixing up the drivers and riders every day," he says. "We run the same routes every year, but we do not stop at the same fields every year."
On Friday, Pro Farmer will release its national-average yield and production estimates for both corn and soybeans. To follow coverage of the event, visit www.agweb.com and www.ProFarmer.com.
For More Information
Learn more about the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.