The Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour's data-gathering methods are disciplined and produce consistent results. Results from the Tour have a big impact on Pro Farmer Newsletter's annual crop production estimate released on the Friday following Crop Tour.

Scouts:

More than 100 “scouts” (farmers, media, agribusiness, and Pro Farmer staff) are organized into teams that fan across 20 pre-determined Midwest routes Monday-Thursday.  Scout teams travel in vehicles which prominently display “Midwest Crop Tour” decals. In addition, each scout wears Crop Tour logo apparel so that all Crop Tour participants are readily identifiable by farmers and landowners.

scouting beans

The “Eastern leg” begins sampling in western Ohio, working its way across Indiana, Illinois, eastern Iowa and then southern Minnesota.  The “Western leg” begins in southern South Dakota, then across eastern Nebraska, western Iowa and into southern Minnesota.  Both sides of the Tour conclude in Rochester, Minn., on Thursday night.

Scouts attend a training session prior to the Midwest Crop Tour and each team of two to four people includes at least one experienced scout.  The assigned routes that the scout teams travel have been consistent over the years to assure comparability.

"We pull enough samples to provide us with accurate data for a large geographic area. Crop Tour does not attempt to predict actual yields for individual fields or even a county, but we do want to have a good handle on likely yields for each of the seven states we survey.” 

         - Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory.

Field Selection:

Teams pull onto rural side roads every 15-20 miles from their primary route and stop at survey locations that meet the following criteria:

  • Safe parking available on a wide shoulder or field driveway

  • Accessible corn/soybean - fields that are not fenced or posted

  • No structures such as homes, machine sheds, grain bins, or livestock buildings

 

Crop Sampling & Data:

corn sample

Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour sampling and measurements are designed to get representative results for crop districts, states, and the entire Midwest – not individual fields or counties.  Scouts measure three ears of corn or count pods on three soybean plants from just one location in each field surveyed.  

Each sample is identified by county so it can be tabulated by crop district, but is not associated with a specific field or farm location. Care is taken to move in and out of each field quickly, without damage.