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USDA follow-up: Soybean questions

Jeff Caldwell 10/12/2011 @ 2:23pm Agricultural content creator and marketer.

There have been a lot of reports this fall of higher-than-expected soybean yields coming out of the field. So, when USDA-NASS actually trimmed its bean yield estimate slightly to 41.5 bushels/acre in Wednesday's Crop Production report, it was something of a surprise. But, upon further examination of the data collected by NASS enumerators from fields around the country, there was a clear trend supporting that number.

"That was a little surprising to me, with what I'd been hearing. Most people were saying beans were coming out of the field fairly well," says USDA-NASS Iowa field office director Greg Thessen. "As I look at the data that's gone into these estimates this month, it's showing there aren't quite as many pods as there were last month, so the yield came down a bit."

Behind the USDA October Crop Production numbers

USDA-NASS Iowa Field Office director Greg Thessen talks about some of the surprises his enumerators found while conducting field counts for the October 12 Crop Production report and how the numbers will likely change moving forward.

After a full season of gathering crop data, Thessen says the October report paints the most accurate picture of the crop because of the amount of data gleaned from the samples taken from the field. In previous estimates, monitored fields were kept intact, but for the October report, soybean pods and corn ears were pulled from the field and tested in a laboratory setting. And, October's numbers reflect a wider set of data beyond that gleaned by NASS enumerators.

"We have grain weights for 80% of our corn samples and for around 40% of our soybean samples," Thessen says. "In the October report, we updated planted and harvested acreage numbers based on administrative data from FSA and some satellite data we have access to. Next month, the acreage numbesr are not likely to change because there will be no new data to update them with. But, the yield could change based on the new survey data we collect later this month and early next month."

Thessen says NASS enumerators will collect crop data for the November Crop Production report between October 24 and November 7.

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