Just letting everyone know that I am leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to fly to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Chris Barron is picking me up at the airport and we are then headed to Columbus, Ohio. We will spend the night in Bloomington, Illinois (most likely) and then meet up with about 100 scouts in Columbus, Ohio Sunday night.
At that meeting, Brian Grete from Pro Farmer will fill everyone in on how the process works and then hand out route assignments. This is my fourth year of doing the tour (this is my only summer vacation so to speak) and my second year on the Eastern leg. The first two years I did the Western leg through South Dakota, Nebraska, Western Iowa and Southern Minnesota. The Eastern leg covers Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Eastern Iowa, and Southern Minnesota. We will meet up with the Western group in Rochester, Minnesota this year.
In order to have an effective crop tour, Pro Farmer attempts to do the same routes each year and gather data based on these routes. We will not be taking samples from the same fields (unless by chance) and each night we hand in our samples from the corn and bean fields. Usually each route will have between 15-20 samples and each county will have at least one sample. The Pro Farmer team then takes that data, analyzes it, and then will publish their projection for each state as we end the tour for that state.
For example, the first day (Monday), they will issue an estimated yield for Ohio and South Dakota since we have finished the tour in those states. Nebraska and Indiana will be issued on Tuesday. Illinois will be issued on Wednesday and Iowa and Minnesota will be issued on the final day of the tour. They may issue Western Iowa on Wednesday.
The crop tour usually results in fairly accurate numbers. I think the biggest variance was for the 2011 crop which was a result of a big heat wave hitting the crop right after we did the tour. That resulted in yields dropping off a lot.
As you can probably tell I really enjoy doing the crop tour (although it is hard work getting in and out of 20 fields and driving up to 350 miles in a day for four straight days). My goal is take lots of photos on this tour and post them to the blog through out the day.
I will also be posting tweets on Twitter at #farmcpa. The Twitter feed for the tour is at #pftour13.