It’s not exactly light summer reading, but a new report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service provides a lot of important information.
“Crop Production-Historical Track Records” has just been released by NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report contains historic estimates of acreage, yield, production, price, and value, as well as comparisons of preliminary and final acreage estimates for more than 20 major U.S. crops.
I’ll be using the report to provide background and statistics for some of my Agweek articles over the coming year.
Statisticians seldom get the respect they deserve. But those of us in agriculture, including ag journalists, would have a far tougher time doing our jobs without the good folks at NASS.
The report is available online at www.nass.usda.gov/.
In farming, as in so many things, waiting is often harder than doing.
That’s especially true this spring, as area farmers wait anxiously for their waterlogged fields to dry enough to allow planting. The best bet now, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, is that many producers won’t start planting until two or three weeks later than normal. The longer the delay, the greater the odds of poor yields at harvest.
But a veteran area farmer I just talked with is keeping things in perspective. He says he remembers many springs when planting didn’t get under way until early or mid May, and the crop turned out just fine.
I don’t mean to minimize concerns about late planting. Farmers in some areas, such as the Devils Lake (N.D.) Basin, are justifiably worried.
I’m just saying, like the veteran farmer said, that it’s far too early to rule out a good harvest.
Sunflowers are a big deal in area agriculture. North Dakota leads the nation in their production, with South Dakota second and Minnesota sixth.
Sunflowers — sometimes referred to simply as sunflower — are easy on the eyes, too. Watching a field of ‘flowers grow and mature is, if you have any affinity for plants and nature, one of the small delights of summer on the Northern Plains.
Now the Bismarck, N.D.-based National Sunflower Association says it’s joining forces with the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, N.D., Bismarck’s sister city, to present a video blog of the research lab’s sunflower plot this summer.
The blog “What’s UP,” will follow the plot from pre-planting through harvest. Planting could take place in mid-May, weather permitting.
The blog will include video segments, posted every two weeks or so, dealing with issues such as soil fertility needs and seed development.
More information: www.sunflowernsa.com. Look under the heading, “All About Sunflower.”
Water is both the great friend and the great enemy of agriculture.
If there’s too little of it, we’re in trouble. If there’s too much of it, we’re in trouble. This spring, it’s the latter.
When I talk with farmers and other agriculturalists in the region this spring, I always ask about their moisture situation.
The response usually goes like this:
Sad chuckle. Pause. Rueful reply of, “Well, we’re really wet. Getting the crop in is going to be a huge challenge.”
At best, and only if the weather cooperates, many producers won’t be in their fields until relatively late in the normal planting season. This year’s planting window will be short and tight, and late-planted crops will be at greater risk of early frost.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, a lot of acres won’t get even planted.
Yes, this will be a a particularly interesting spring on the Northern Plains.