Greg Preston has been the face of Indiana Ag Statistics for several years. It's the Indiana arm of the National Ag Statistics Service. They're all about keeping records on everything, but they're in the spotlight as crop forecast time approaches each year, especially this year.
Greg Preston won't be here to participate in the Indiana August crop report this year. Instead, he's been promoted within the ranks into a new position. About two months ago he left his job as state statistician in Indiana to become Special assistant to the Director of Eastern Field operations within NASS.
Preston became a familiar face because he appeared at news conference with Chris hurt and Bob Nielsen at the Indiana State Fair almost every year to discuss the crop report, usually released on the second Friday of the fair. Hurt and Nielsen are Purdue University Extension specialists.
Last year he was charged with explaining why USDA underestimated the 2010 crop. By the way, USFA underestimated the 2011 crop as well, although by not nearly and much as the year before. Both years wound up below trend yield. Both years featured hot summers with very warm nights during pollination and grain fill. That condition does not favor high yields.
But both 2010 and 2011 may have just been opening acts for the drought saga unfolding this year. The August crop report will tell me, but every day that went by with lots of heat, day and night, and no widespread rain put another nail in the coffin for this year's corn crop, not only in Indiana but across much of the Corn Belt, except for the northern tier of states, excluding much of Wisconsin, which also faced the drought.
Prestons' temporary replacement is Greg Matli. However, he has not been named state statistician at this point. Rumor is that USDA is considering regionalizing the reporting offices instead of maintaining the state by state format. No timeline was discussed as to when this might happen.