NASS Crop Chief: Prevent Plant Acres Not Included in Yield Projections

Lance Honig Crop Tour
USDA ( MGN Image )

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Crops Division Chief Lance Honig sought to clear the clouds around 2019 crop estimates in a conversation with AgriTalk Radio host Chip Flory played at the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour stop in Grand Island, Nebraska. 

One of the biggest questions on farmer and trader minds: how do prevent plant acres factor into yield and total production?

“Prevent plant acres are not included in NASS numbers, because they weren’t planted and therefore they’re not included,” Honig said. “So, if they’re not in acres, they’re not in yield because they’re not in production.”

While it doesn’t impact the yield number, it will impact the total production number because of the way USDA calculates it. USDA calculates total acres harvested for grain and apply a yield to those acres to derive that final production number, he explained.

In terms of total acres, Honig and his team is confident in the 90 million estimate USDA released in August.

“In addition to all the survey work and satellite data we have, we’re actually at a point now where you can look at those FSA certified acres as well,” Honig said.

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While farmers are skeptical of that high number, he says there are two things farmers need to keep in mind.

“One, you can look historical, there’s always somewhere between three and four million acres of corn that are never reported to FSA,” Honig explained. “So, there’s three to four million right there. On top of that, those FSA numbers that are put out there as of the 12th [of August], when posted on the 12 they’re not complete. [Because] farmers are still reporting it takes a little time to get that data processed.”

Finally, he says there are still uncertainties, but that’s just like any other year.

“Acres and yields are left to be determined, but that’s always the case,” Honig said. “There’s probably more uncertainty around acres this year than we’ve seen most years. We’ll continue to evaluate the harvest of acres. When the season wraps up we’re going to find out exactly how many acres they did harvest for grain and if it turns out to be less than what we’ve seen up to this point, we’ll make an adjustment then.”