On the (Virtual) Road Again

DTN/Progressive Farmer feature second annual digital crop tour.

Each installment of the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour will feature links to live statewide plant health and crop yield estimation visuals supplied by Gro Intelligence. Readers can view yield data down to the county level, Image courtesy of Gro Intelligence

The country’s only publicly available digital crop yield tour will open up again on DTN and DTN/Progressive Farmer sites the week of Aug. 12.

The DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, will be an in-depth look at how this troubled crop of corn and soybeans is faring as the crops enter critical pollination and seed-fill periods. The digital “tour” will cover corn and soybean yield expectations of key Midwest states.

Traditional in-season crop tours consist of teams of “scouts” traveling across farm country and stopping to take yield samples and pod counts from random fields. While valuable in terms of judging the crop in the field, the randomness of the field sampling is open to error and to the limited number of fields the scouts can stop at during the tour.

Rather than physical sampling, Gro Intelligence, a data analytics company that has specialized in agriculture, starts with satellite imagery of every field in every county of each state examined. Gro uses seven types of publicly available crop and environmental data: normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from NASA satellite imagery, land surface temperature (LST) maps, rainfall data, USDA crop condition surveys, crop calendars, planted and harvested acreage data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), cropland data and U.S. government soil surveys. That data is fed into Gro’s crop models and provides real-time analysis of yield potential throughout the growing season.


That state-wide, every-field view will be especially critical in a year such as 2019, where many areas saw reduced corn and soybean plantings due to the wet, cool spring. Many fields that were planted have suffered from loss of plant stands due to ponding, loss of nutrients, plus weed and disease outbreaks that will be tough to account for in physical visits to random fields.

DTN and Progressive Farmer shared the first publicly available round of Gro Intelligence yield data in August 2018. That digital tour predicted preharvest U.S. average corn yields of 174.99 bushels per acre (bpa) and a national soybean yield of 50.67 bpa.

Typically, the yield maps Gro creates from its yield prediction models are made available only to its major clients. During the week of Aug. 12, Gro will share those maps on key days with DTN, Progressive Farmer, and our readers.

Each day of the tour week the DTN/Progressive Farmer editorial team will pour through a selection of states’ yield data and discuss what the models are predicting in terms of yield. We’ll also work with farmers in those states to get some boots-on-the-ground commentary about how the crop is progressing and where farmers think yields will be at harvest.

A final wrap-up story, currently scheduled for Aug. 19, will reveal the overall U.S. corn and soybean yield predictions from the Gro Intelligence models, and will compare those predictions with USDA estimates from the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports.

We will also include feature articles on how to perform your own crop-yield estimates to compare your fields with the Gro Intelligence models.

This year’s tour week happens to fall on the heels of the Aug. 12 WASDE report from USDA, and ahead of the key September crop reports on Sept. 12 and 30. Each of those days DTN will carry those report numbers and in-depth analysis on the reports soon after their 11 a.m. Central Standard Time release. Those articles can be found at www.dtnpf.com and on DTN subscription venues.

Watch for more details on the DTN/Progressive Farmer 2019 Digital Yield Tour, powered by Gro Intelligence, at www.dtnpf.com and on DTN subscription web sites and satellite platforms.


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