"Lofty" Projections for the 2018 Season? Crop Tour to Find Out

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete is seen here counting soybean pods during the 2017 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Grete, in his 8th year as tour director, says USDA's August crop production forecast is "lofty". ( Joe May/Pro Farmer )

Clipboard? Check. Tape measure? Check. Bottle of ibuprofen? Check. Tools of the trade for Pro Farmer Midwest Crop tour director Brian Grete.  From his busy desk in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Grete is going through his ‘to do’ list as he prepares to embark Monday on the 26th annual mid-season crop assessment of the corn and soybean crops across the Corn Belt.

During the 4 day trek more than 100 scouts will stretch out from Ohio to Nebraska, 7 states in all, to collect more than 2,000 samples from both crops. “I think the number one thing as we head out there in the fields is do we see the same type of yield potential is what USDA did,” wonders Grete, who is now in his 8th year of tour director.

USDA last week forecast the third highest corn crop and a record yield on corn and the highest soybean crop and the second highest yield on record. Grete calls those “lofty” expectations. But the seasoned crop scout is quick to point out that the goal of crop tour is not to prove or disprove USDA’s August estimates. “In fact all we're looking to do is give a snapshot of what the corn and soybean yield potential is across the Corn Belt during the third week of August but the comparisons are inevitable,” says Grete.

Grete’s route traverses west-central Ohio, central Indiana, central Illinois, eastern Iowa and southern Minnesota. USDA is projecting record corn yields in Ohio (180 bu/acre) and Illinois (207 bu/acre).

“Keep in mind that USDA’s August estimates for corn are primarily driven by ear counts. We know that ear counts are record large in the 10 objective states based on what USDA told us. So, we anticipate we'll find a lot of out there. If we don't there's something majorly wrong.”

Pro Farmer will release state by state crop tour data, collected in the field, Monday through Thursday. Grete says that sample data will be placed into mathematical formulas to generate the official Pro Farmer Crop estimate. It’s a system Pro Farmer has used for more than a quarter century. But there’s more to the number-crunching than that. Their analysis includes crop data from areas outside of the crop tour routes, weather, and how they think the crops are going to finish. “That's important to keep in mind,” lreminds Grete.


Editor’s Note: The official Pro Farmer Crop estimate will be released on Friday August 24th at 1:30 pm Central Time.


Read more pre-tour coverage and follow the tour at AgWeb.com/ProFarmer-Midwest-Crop-Tour.

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