Crop Tour Methodology

The Pro Farmer 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.


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.

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 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:

Pro Farmer 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.

In Each Corn Field Scouts . . . In Each Bean Field Scouts . . .
1. Record crop district and county.
2. Go 35 paces into the field to start sampling.
3. Measure row spacing and record.
4. Measure a 30' plot, then count all ears in two rows in the plot. Record total.
5. Pull the fifth, eighth and 11th ear off one row of the plot.
6. Take corn ears back to the car.
7. Measure the length of grain on each ear, average and record.
8. Count the kernel rows on each ear (will be an even number), average and record.
1. Record crop district and county.
2. Walk as far into the field as possible without causing significant damage along your path.
3. Measure a 3' plot.
4. Count the total number of plants in the 3' row and record.
5. Randomly select three plants.
6. Measure row spacing and record.
7. Count all pods on selected plants and determine the average from those three plants.
8. Multiply the average pod count by the number of plants in the 3' section and record. (Note: There will most likely be small pods on each plant. WE WILL COUNT ANY POD THAT MEASURES ¼" OR MORE.)
9. Rate soil moisture and maturity against the two indices and record.


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