The Objective Yield (OY) surveys provide data for monthly forecasts and end-of-season estimates of planted and harvested acres, yield, and production of winter wheat, corn for grain, soybeans, fall potatoes, and upland cotton.
All acres for harvest as grain in the leading producing states are eligible for this survey. The following states are currently included in the OY program.
Corn - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Cotton - Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas
Soybeans - Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota
Wheat - Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington
Potatoes - Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin
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The operator is interviewed to verify acreage reported on the parent survey and obtain permission to enter the sample field to make counts and measurements. Monthly plant and fruit counts, fruit measurements, and maturity determinations are made until the crop is mature or harvested. At maturity or immediately before harvest, a final crop cutting is made. Sample fruit (ears, pods, bolls, heads, or tubers) is sent to a lab to determine fruit weight, threshed grain weight, and moisture content. A postharvest visit is made to glean fruit left in some sample fields.
Farmers and businesses use the production estimates for marketing decisions, to evaluate expected prices, and to determine when to sell. Congress takes into account changing yield and production levels in formulating farm legislation. USDA production forecasts are used to anticipate loan receipts and pricing of loan stocks for grains.
Production forecasts are greatly relied upon by the transportation sector, warehouse and storage companies, banks and other lending institutions, commodity traders, and processors. Those in agribusiness who provide farmers with inputs, equipment, and other goods and services study reports when planning their marketing strategies. Analysts transform the statistics into projections of coming trends, interpretations of the trends' economic implications, and evaluations of alternative courses of action for producers, agribusinesses, and policy makers.
The Objective Yield survey field work begins April 25 for winter wheat and July 25 for all the other crops. Sample units are visited at the end of each month during the growing season.
Fields for corn, cotton, and soybeans are selected from June Area survey tracts with planted acres of the commodity of interest. Winter wheat samples are selected from March Crops/Stocks reports with winter wheat planted for harvest as grain. Potato samples are selected from June Crops/Stocks survey operators reporting fall potato acreage for harvest.
Data must be collected using personal visits to the field. These visits are made monthly with the final visit occurring when the crop is mature or the farmer plans to harvest. Counts and weights are expanded to a per acre yield and adjusted to a standard moisture for the commodity. Estimates of harvest loss are computed and subtracted from the biological (gross) yield of the harvest plots to determine net yield per acre.
NASS and the World Agricultural Outlook Board have jointly produced Understanding USDA Crop Forecasts (Miscellaneous Publication No. 1554, March1999), which provides additional insight into the crop forecasting program of the USDA.
A NASS report titled The Yield Forecasting Program of NASS (May 2006) provides a detailed and mathematical discussion of the yield forecasting and estimating program.
Last modified: 12/04/09
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