By Matt Reese
There are some really great things that happen on our annual crop tours. Ask any former participants and they will tell you there is great value in seeing how Ohio’s landscape, soils and various crop production challenges shift from east to west and north to south while traveling the state over the course of a few days. Meeting with the farmers at many of the stops provides great insights into the challenges and successes from farm to farm. It is also easy to see vast differences, but also many similarities, in farms on opposite ends of the state, or even one county apart.
It is also really fun for me to see the differences in how crop tour veterans view the experience (that they have deemed worth repeating) compared to the impressions of first-time crop tour participants. I love to overhear (and sometimes participate) in the extensive agronomic banter that transpires in the often-lengthy road trips between stops. It often seems that age and experience are directly proportional to how heated those debates on the minutiae of nitrogen rates, ideal plant populations or the merits of cover crops of can get. I also take great delight in highlighting the superiority of my crew and tour over the other group touring the opposite side of the state. And, anyone who has been on the Ohio Ag Net I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour with our staff will tell you that we know how to eat well and have a good time swapping war stories over our end-of-the-long-day meals.
So, for all of these reasons, and more, I will truly miss our 2020 in-person installment of the Crop Tour. This year, based on the current situation in the state, we have made the decision to make it a virtual tour this year. My loss, though, could be your gain.
Our in-person tours are limited to a handful of folks who have to invest a good chunk of time to participate. This year’s virtual tour allows anyone with an interest in crop touring to do so according to their own schedules over the course of 3 days — Aug. 11, Aug. 12 and Aug. 13. You can take the opportunity to set up your own crop tour with just yourself on your farm, or maybe a few buddies doing yield checks together on several farms in multiple counties.
Because of the time constraints and the reality of the situation, the yield data we collect in our typical crop tour is very limited to just a couple of spot checks in one field per county and only 40 counties in the state. The virtual nature of this year’s crop tour is virtually unlimited in the amount of data that can be captured. Along with any and all interested farmers and yield checkers out there, we are teaming up with Ohio State University Extension and their impressive resources to hopefully cover some serious acreage in Ohio with this effort. The anonymous farmers on our typical stops have been invited to participate as well.
To sweeten the pot, each yield submission counts as an entry into a drawing for a $500 Rural King gift card — not a bad deal if you ask me. I am going to be synthesizing all of the data while you are all out having fun in the August sunshine doing yield checks around the state. We are going to be posting the daily findings throughout the week and updating the yield numbers each afternoon. There will be a summary of the findings on Friday.
Please keep us posted about anything interesting you find. We will have access to a large network of agronomist as needed to help answer any questions that may come up in the fields you visit. Remember to try to get representative fields and representative areas of fields (don’t just sample the best spot in your best field to one up your neighbor).
For guidelines and yield check submission forms, click here. Be sure to get permission from the farmer before doing yield checks in any fields. And, if you do have a good crop story/finding you’d like to share with us beyond your yield submission, indicate that you’d be up for a podcast/radio interview on the submission form for use in stories throughout the week. Otherwise, your submissions will be kept anonymous.
This year, our team won’t be taking to Ohio’s roadways to check out the crops, but we are providing the forum, guidelines, incentive, and connections to help you do your own 2020 crop tour and hopefully come up with some really interesting information to share. The good natured ribbing, swapping of war stories, hours spent in cars and crop fields, and heated dinnertime/road-trip discussions are up to you.
Happy crop touring 2020 style!