Crop scouts bond over corn yields, long car trips

August 19, 2009

Pro Farmer promises nothing to scouts on its annual Midwest Crop Tour but hard work, long days and the chance to get really dirty. For most, it does not sound like the best way to spend a week in mid-August.

But the tour attracts a group of regulars who come back every year to gauge the potential of corn and soybeans around the region as well as reconnect with people they met on previous tours.

“I am still interested in what the crops are doing and we learn a lot,” said Rodney Frick, an Illinois farmer on his fourth crop tour.  “But it is also about the friendships we form.”




Frick joined his first tour in 2005 after getting back into farming full time following 12 years working construction. He has come back every year since, although this year he will have to cut out a little bit early to attend his daughter’s wedding.Corn storage barn in Illinois


The welcome session on the first night of the tour, when scouts get their marching orders for the week, often feels like the first day of camp. Veteran scouts swap war stories about how their crops are growing and share laughs about past tours.


To be fair, scouts do not hold hands and sing folk songs around a campfire fire every night. Most of their energy is spent tromping through corn and soybean fields. The long hours and early wake-up calls leave many scouts eager to go to bed as soon as they are released from the nightly crop meeting. But 10 hours on the road each day provides participants with plenty of opportunities to bond.


Frick said that one year he spent hours in a car talking to a fellow scout about his mother’s cancer diagnosis. The scout also had a relative with cancer and had lots of information about treatment options to share.


The tour also provides scouts with an opportunity to meet people who have different perspectives on agriculture. Grain traders released from their cubicles can find out first hand what it’s like to get dirty in the fields. Conversely, farmers can pick traders’ brains about why price movements sometimes take the opposite course from what is reflected in the fields.


Pro Farmer provides scouts with contact information for all the tour participants so they can keep in touch over the winter, just like camp friends do.

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