How NASS Collects and Prepares Weekly Crop Progress Reports
Crop progress and condition estimates are based on survey data collected each week from early April through the end of November.
Input from approximately 3,600 respondents whose occupations put them in place to make visual observations and frequently bring them in contact with farmers in their county area. The vast majority of respondents are County Extension Agents and Grain Merchandisers. Some areas with a sparse population use agronomy consultants or crop input salesmen.
Based on standard definitions, these respondents subjectively estimate the progress of crops through various stages of development, as well as the progress of producer activities. They also provide subjective evaluations of crop conditions. Most respondents complete their questionnaires on Friday or early Monday morning and submit them to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Field Offices in their States by mail, telephone, fax, e-mail, or through a secured internet website. A small number of reports are completed on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Regardless of when questionnaires are completed, respondents are asked to report for the entire week ending on Sunday evening. For reports submitted prior to the Sunday reference date, a degree of uncertainty is introduced by projections for weekend changes in progress and condition. By the end of the 2017 season, over 95% of the data were being submitted through the internet website. As a result, the majority of data was submitted on Monday morning, significantly reducing projection uncertainty.
Respondents are sent written reporting instructions at the beginning of each season and are contacted periodically to ensure proper reporting. Terms and definitions of crop stages and condition categories used as reporting guidelines are available on the NASS website at:
Reports are reviewed for reasonableness and consistency by comparing with data reported the previous week and data reported in surrounding counties for the current week.
Field Offices summarize the reported data to district and state levels, weighting each county’s reported data by NASS county acreage estimates. Summarized indications are compared with previous week estimates, and progress items are compared with earlier stages of development and historical averages to ensure reasonableness. Weather events and respondent comments are also taken into consideration. State estimates are submitted to the Agricultural Statistics Board (ASB) along with supporting comments, where they are compared with surrounding states and compiled into a national level summary by weighting each state by its acreage estimates.
National crop planting progress, progress of development stages, and condition estimates are weighted using the state’s average planted acres over the previous three crop years. National crop harvest progress estimates are weighted using the program state’s average harvested acres over the previous three crop years. Pasture and range condition is weighted using pasture acreage and/or livestock inventories from the most recent Census of Agriculture. Days suitable for fieldwork, topsoil moisture and subsoil moisture are weighted using cropland acreage from the Census of Agriculture.
Revision Policy: Progress and condition estimates in the Crop Progress Report are released after 4:00 pm ET on the first business day of the week. These estimates are subject to revision the following week.
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Information. NASS publications cover a wide range of subjects, from traditional crops, such as corn and wheat, to specialties, such as mushrooms and flowers; from calves born, etc…
Weekly Crop Condition Reports have proven to be a very unreliable indictor of yield over the last ten years. In fact, I have seriously considered not even reporting crop conditions to my clients in 2021. A much more accurate crop condition assessment can be made if, every day, a person simply takes a look at the estimated rainfall amounts the previous 24 hours across the country’s crop areas and the day time high temperatures.