By Amy Lovett, Howard, South Dakota.

American farmers were unable to plant more than 19 million acres to crops this year. That’s the most prevented plant acres reported since 2007, and nearly 17.5 million acres more than were reported this time last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency released its Crop Acreage Data Report Aug. 12.

“Of those prevented plant acres, more than 73% were in 12 Midwestern states, where heavy rainfall and flooding this year has prevented many producers from planting mostly corn, soybeans and wheat,” according to the release.

USDA approved planting cover crops in those fields that farmers couldn’t get planted to corn or soybeans. This was an attempt to prevent soil erosion, protect water quality from soil runoff and boost soil health and recovery from flood events. The FSA report showed producers had taken advantage of this opportunity where possible to the tune of 2.71 million acres of cover crops so far in 2019. That’s compared to 2.14 million acres this same time frame in 2018 and 1.88 million acres in 2017.

“To help make cover crops a more viable option, USDA’s Risk Management Agency adjusted the haying and grazing date of cover crops,” the report stated. This can give some breathing room to livestock producers who saw hay stocks damaged by floodwaters and the like.

The data comes from crop acreage reports that producers filed with FSA to maintain their program eligibility and calculate losses for disaster assistance programs. Data was also compiled from prevented planting crop insurance claims, which are provided to the Risk Management Agency. Some producers are still completing their filing, and more data is expected, so FSA will have monthly updates from September to January.

To see the full report, www.fsa.usda.gov.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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