On the morning of Sunday August 20th I took off on a journey to Columbus, Ohio to spend the week participating in the Eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour. For many years I have watched the crop tour as it travels across the Midwest and in 2016 I was accepted as a scout on the farm tour. We were all scheduled to report to Columbus, Ohio by 8:00 PM on the 20th for orientation. That evening I met approx. 50 other scouts that would be making the journey westward that week. Out of these 50 scouts, over 1/3 were from other countries, around 1/3 were farmers from the Midwest and the other 1/3 were other people from various states that were involved in some sort of occupation that revolved around row crop production.
Out of these 50 scouts we had around 13 teams of 3-4 people all traveling in one vehicle for the day. I had volunteered to be a driver and each day I would have a different set of scouts riding with me. In the front seat we would have the navigator (which was usually a farmer from the Midwest) and in the back seat there would be two other scouts. Approx. every 15 miles along our route for the day we would stop and take a corn and soybean sample. After that we would hop back in the vehicle and the two scouts in the back would be calculating the yield as we were driving to the next field.
On the morning of the 21st at 7:00 sharp we headed out the drive of the hotel to begin our day of scouting. We had a long day, over 350 miles of scouting. We keep the vehicle moving all day long, only briefly stopping for lunch that day around noon. By the time we got in that evening it was 6:15 and the meeting in Fischer’s, Indiana had already started! Luckily, Monday was our longest route throughout the week, most of the days we left at 7:00 in the morning and were back in to the hotel around 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon to get ready for the evening meeting to discuss what our findings were for the day.
The week went by quickly. I saw a lot of country that I had never had the chance to see and we found some great small town cafes to eat at along the way also. My favorite Café of the trip was in Logansport, Indiana. We stopped at Bullshippers Café. It was a café attached to the local sale barn. While we were there we had the best chicken fried steak you can find and got the chance to meet the retired owner of the café and stock yards. After the conversations we had, it was very evident how the name or variation of the name Bullshippers came into existence J
August 24th rolled around and we were making our way from Bloomington, Illinois to Iowa City, IA. All of the days on the trip were fun, but this was above the rest for me. That evening at the meeting in Iowa City it was really great to see many people I knew and could talk about the experiences and the crops along our journey so far.
The next and last day we headed to Rochester, MN. When we got in that evening we had the last meeting for the week. All of the results were compiled and released to the media that evening. Ag Day was filmed right in front of us that evening, but what made the night most special was my wife and kids meeting me in Rochester to make the way back home. Without their love and support going on this trip across the Midwest would not have been possible.
The Pro Farmer crop tour was a great learning experience and I would encourage anyone interested to give Pro Farmer a call! I was able to have a first hand scouting experience and meet a lot of people from all over the Midwest and the World!