2015 Planted Crop Acres Down to a 30 Year Low

2015 Planted Crop Acres Down to a 30 Year Low


The first crop reports of 2016 were released earlier this week reflecting year-end numbers from 2015.  Chief of the Crops Branch for NASS, Lance Honig says there was at least one eye-opening number from last year:

“When we look at the overall situation for the crop season, a lot of time we like to look at what we call our ‘principle crop total’, which is just the sum of the 21 major crops, and for 2015 producers planted 318.5 million acres to those crops, and that’s down 7.9 million acres from the previous season, and that’s a big drop.  We haven’t seen a drop that big since back in the mid 80’s.

So, what causes that…prices aren’t where they were a couple of seasons ago.  We know there were a lot of different weather issues across the country this year, particularly back at the beginning of the season when producers were planting these crops.

But, that really stands out, I think, when you see that big a drop overall, that tells you more than just something about an individual commodity.  It kind of tells you what’s happening around the industry.”

Not surprisingly, tobacco numbers were significantly down says Honig:

“As we look at the overall crop for tobacco, not only in your area, but really across the board.  It’s one of the smaller crops we’ve seen in a while.  In fact, the lowest production since 2011, but really the thing that stood out with the tobacco production was the big drop, not strictly from last season. In fact it was almost a 19% production in just one year’s time.  The last time we saw a drop that large in just one year, was back in the 2004-2005 season, and of course that was the first year of the Tobacco Buyout.  So, that’s a pretty dramatic change that we saw this season.”

The winter wheat seedings were also a part of this report, and Honig says that number reflects the weather in various parts of the country:

This week the winter seedings report gave us the first report did us the first report of our upcoming winter wheat crop; the 2016 season, so we have planted acreage estimates there.  7% drop nation-wide, and if you look across the country, it’s really down not everywhere, but almost everywhere, and you mentioned some of the issues, particularly in the Carolinas, excessive moisture, late row crop harvest, and things of that nature maybe holding things up.

But, out in other parts of the country, looking in the Plains for example, where we grow a lot of winter wheat, kind of had the opposite problem, where not enough moisture. And when you don’t have enough moisture at seeding a lot of producers don’t plant winter wheat and that’s what we saw this year, as well.

and then prices for wheat may be not as strong as they were, either, and you put that all together and you do see, definitely, fewer acres planted for this upcoming growing season.”

Lance Honig, chief of the crops branch for National Ag Statistics Service.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.