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Brandon Blue and David Geiger visited fields just north of Ankeny to see how the National Agricultural Statistics Service gets the numbers for its monthly crop progress report.

In the crop forecasts from NASS, 290 corn fields and 210 soybean fields represent all of Iowa's crop production.

NASS Iowa Field Office Director Greg Thessen says, "The fields we select are at random, and once we get out to the fields, our enumerators have a set number of rows and paces, so they're not picking a good or a bad part of the field."

The process is a little different every time NASS enumerators head into the field, due to crop maturity. A corn unit spans 15 feet and covers two rows. Based on the maturity level, this enumerator is looking at kernels and ear weights.

Soybeans are a different story. The beans at this field aren't mature; the leaves are just starting to turn yellow.  This year many soybeans were planted late; Thessen says in a normal year, enumerators would have a better handle on conditions by this time.

"If the plants are still growing and putting on pods, we have to determine whether or not those pods are going to make beans or not"

The next crop production forecast will be out on October 11, it will factor in updated acreage data that was released by USDA's Farm service Agency on September 17.