Minnesota's acreage of irrigated crops went up again in 2002, continuing a long-term trend.
The increase was almost 3,000 acres, according to agricultural engineer Jerry Wright, University of Minnesota Extension Service. This is about half the acreage growth that occurred in 2001.
Wright says data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show 554,385 acres were permitted for irrigation in Minnesota, in 2002. Minnesota landowners held 4,183 DNR irrigation permits in 2002.
For detailed irrigated crop acreage information, Wright cites the DNR's annual pumping reports. The most recent available figures, which are from 2001, show 440,843 Minnesota crop acres were irrigated in 2001. That compares with 432,888 in 2000. The permitted acreage for 2001 was 551,673 under 4,170 irrigation permits. That acreage includes 26,634 wild rice acres.
The DNR pumping reports show Minnesota growers irrigated at least 177,000 acres of corn, 113,000 acres of soybeans, 44,000 acres of potatoes, 27,000 acres of dry beans, 24,000 acres of alfalfa, 5,500 acres of sugar beets and 15,000 acres of canning crops, in 2001. The reports show that corn, dry bean and potato acreages were down slightly from 2000. However, irrigated soybean acreage continued to rise, growing over 15%, from 2000.
The top 10 Minnesota counties in reported irrigated acreage for 2001 were Otter Tail, Dakota, Pope, Stearns, Sherburne, Swift, Wadena, Hubbard, Morrison and Stevens.
A detailed summary of permitted and irrigated acres by county is available from Jerry Wright, West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota, PO Box 471, Morris, MN 56267. Wright can be reached by e-mail, at email@example.com, or by phone, at 320-589-1711.