How NASS Came Up with That Controversial 92% Planted Number

“Really, it’s kind of a moving target that we’re shooting at,” he said. “There’s no intention of trying to report how many acres were planted. It’s just what it says, it’s the percent that planting is complete at that point.”   ( Farm Journal )

When USDA released their Crop Progress report on Monday, which said 92% of the country’s corn had been planted, farmers and traders alike began to question the number. How did USDA calculate that number? Were prevent plant acres included? Lance Honig, crops branch chief of USDA National Ag Statistics Service, joined AgriTalk host Chip Flory to explain. 

“The question that has repeatedly come up this year is that 92% this week, the percentage every week, what does that tie back to? What is the acreage that we're referring to? Is it the prospective plantings acreage number, in this case, for corn? Is it the latest acreage number that was in the WASDE this month? And the simple answer is that it's neither one,” he told Flory. “It doesn't tie back to a specific acreage.”

According to Honig, each week NASS reports the planting progress percentage “based on what farmers intend to do as of that week.”

“Really, it’s kind of a moving target that we’re shooting at,” he said. “There’s no intention of trying to report how many acres were planted. It’s just what it says, it’s the percent that planting is complete at that point.”  

While some analysts and farmers alike are trying to use all the information available, including the weekly crop progress reports, to solve the impossible puzzle of corn acreage, Honig cautions that’s a bad idea. 

“That's a risky thing to even really think about. Because, again, we're not tying it back to an acreage,” he explained. “We know, especially in a year like this, that how many acres farmers are going to plant or have planted has probably changed numerous times over the last month or month and a half because of weather.”

He says the June acreage report will provide some guidance on planted acres. 

“If you can just hang around for about eight, nine more days, that's where you're going to really find out how many acres are getting planted this season for the various crops,” he says. 

Listen to the full interview below:

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