The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop tour began with the Illinois Farm Bureau in the 1970s, and was taken over by Pro Farmer in 1993.
This week’s trip is the 22nd annual tour to scout fields from Ohio to South Dakota in an effort to calculate yields across the Corn Belt. The full trip is between 25,000 and 30,000 miles, with stops for in-field enumeration every 15 to 18 miles.
To get an idea of where this year’s corn crop is at, scouts will move past a field’s end rows, which are perpendicular rows on the field’s edge where farm machines turn around. Once they’re 35 paces in, scouts will lay out two 30-foot-long rows as sample plots and will count the ears in both rows. A semi-random subset is used to determine grain length and row spacing.
For soybeans, scouts make a snap decision as to which accessible part of the field best represents the entire field. Once decided, they’ll tally up the number of plants in a three-foot row and select three plants at random for a pod-count.
You can follow the Pro Farmer tour on Twitter: #pftour14