Dissecting USDA’s Planted Acreage Numbers

“You’ve got to be really careful about how you tie those prevent plant acres in with what's actually planted, especially when you start breaking them down by crop,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Monday. ( Farm Journal )

One of the biggest questions farmers had following Monday’s USDA reports was the discrepancy between the planted acreage released by the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) and the prevented plant acres released by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). While they’re related, Lance Honig crops branch chief for NASS cautions farmers to be careful when tying them together. 

“You’ve got to be really careful about how you tie those prevent plant acres in with what's actually planted, especially when you start breaking them down by crop,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Monday. “You know, intentions change constantly, and they change for a lot of reasons. So, if you want to tie the two together by crop, you're basically trying to pick up a certain point in time and applying those intentions to some premium plant. And that could be any time. It's a moving target.”

Flory said the numbers make sense. Here’s how he explained it: 

“If you go back to the March intentions, corn came in at 92.8 million acres, beans came in at 84.6 million for a total 177.4. And everybody said we were 5 million acres shy,” he said. “So, when you get to the August plantings, we're at 90.05 and 76.7, and you're at 166.7 total. You add in the 15.55 prevent plant acres [on corn and soybeans], and you're at 182.55, which is about 5 million more than what we had the march intentions. So even for those that say these numbers don't make sense, I think they kind of do.”

There’s an even bigger picture way to compare the numbers, Honig said. 

“If you go across all the crops, roughly 19 million and change in prevent plant today. Then if you look at our principal crop total, and you compare it, as of today, back to let's say 2014 was that was really the highest total we've seen in the recent years, you're about 20 million different,” he said. “That's a pretty close comparison. So I think it is tied together. And that's where I say you really got to look beyond just a single crop. Because, you know, there's a lot of lot of different reasons that go into with crop you associate your prevent plant acres.”

Listen to Honig and Flory dissect the numbers below:

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