Crop acreage reporting data from USDA’s North Dakota Farm Service Agency shows about 23 percent of the state’s available cropland went unplanted in 2011 because of wet field conditions. Producers reported just over 18.9 million acres of land was planted to an annual crop in 2011 while a record 5.6 million acres of crops were prevented from being planted this year. The record number of prevented planting acres eclipses the previous high of 3.9 million acres set in 1999.
“The number of prevented planting acres came in slightly less than we were initially expecting,” says Aaron Krauter, State Executive Director for FSA in North Dakota. “We’re glad to see more acres get planted, but it is still an almost unbelievable number of acres and we hope to never see this kind of disaster again.”
Krauter attributes the lower number of prevented planted acres to improved weather late in the planting season and to the persistence of farmers across the state. “Our county emergency boards did a great job coming up with the initial estimates early in the year. Some areas got lucky and dried out enough to get a crop in, and the lower number really shows how hard producers worked to get a crop into the field this year, even if it meant getting planted later than they had hoped.”
The prevented planting numbers will be evaluated along with other crop yield information to complete a damage assessment report. The report, requested by Governor Jack Dalrymple, will be used by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to designate counties with qualifying losses as disasters. The disaster designation makes additional farm programs and emergency loans available to affected producers.
Unplanted wheat accounted for more than 2.9 million acres of the reported prevented planting acreage, with the majority concentrated in the northwest corner of the state. “Durum wheat really took a hit this year,” Krauter said. “There were only 718 thousand acres of durum planted in the state, that’s about a third of what we would normally see.” Other major crops contributing to the record number of prevented planting acres include 807 thousand acres of corn, 478 thousand acres of soybeans, 463 thousand acres of canola, 457 thousand acres of sunflowers and 211 thousand acres of barley.
“Besides the unplanted acres, the compiled acreage reports show us the current trends in crops,” Krauter said. “If you look at corn, just ten years ago there were about 850 thousand acres of corn planted in the state. This year, even with the wet spring, there were 2.1 million acres planted. Barley, on the other hand, has gone from 1.3 million acres in 2001 to just 358 thousand acres this year.”
Agricultural producers who participate in FSA’s voluntary programs are required to report and certify their acres at their local FSA office annually to maintain program eligibility. In North Dakota, FSA estimates that over 90 percent of agricultural land in the state is certified annually.
Complete acreage reporting data is available for download at www.fsa.usda.gov/nd.
Source: USDA FSA ND State Office