NASS Explains June 30 Acreage Calculations

June 26, 2015 11:57 AM
NASS Explains June 30 Acreage Calculations

As rain continues to hamper planting progress in Corn Belt states such as Missouri and Kansas, farmers across the U.S. wonder how final acreage totals will be affected. In an effort to clarify the process USDA follows for acreage reports, reached out to Lance Honig, Chief of the Crops Branch at USDA‘s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), for answers.

In his responses, Honig describes the intensive process of contacting farmers face to face, tabulating data and maintaining consistent protocol from one year to the next. He acknowledges a re-survey is possible following the June 30 report, and he describes what that process would entail.  

What methodology does USDA typically follow for its June 30 reports? Will your team members call individual farmers and tabulate what has actually been put in the ground to date?

The estimates in the June Acreage report are based on data gathered from two major surveys of farmers during the first two weeks of June. The June Acreage and Production survey has a sample size of over 70,000 farmers across the country. Each respondent reports their acreage planted (or to be planted) for each crop. Farmers are given the opportunity to respond via mail, phone or online. Some producers are contacted face-to-face by a trained enumerator. Additionally, NASS conducts an area based survey of nearly 11,000 segments of land (approximately 1 square mile each) across the country. Enumerators account for every acre of land within the boundaries of these segments, recording all acres planted (or to be planted) by crop. This results in an additional 40,000 farmer contacts. This survey is completed entirely by personal contact by trained enumerators.

What changes, if any, will USDA make to its June 30 methodology in 2015 to account for unplanted acres in states such as Missouri, Iowa and Kansas? For example, will you place follow-up phone calls to localities about acres that are currently unplanted?

Survey procedures for this June were the same as in previous years. In addition to recording acres planted and to be planted on the area survey, the number of acres for each field that were still left to be planted at the time of the interview were recorded. These data are being analyzed by NASS to determine whether or not any re-contacts need to be made for these acres. A determination will be made prior to the release of the Acreage report on June 30. Should a re-interview survey be necessary, a notice would be issued following the release of the Acreage report.

Are there pieces of information we will not be able to determine from the June 30 reports, going back to the question of unplanted acres? In other words, will we need to wait until July and beyond to get a better feel for how many acres farmers left unplanted because of weather?

All estimates in the Acreage report will be based on the information gathered from the surveys mentioned above, including some reported acreage left to be planted at the time of the interview. Should a re-interview survey be conducted, acreage estimates for the affected crops and States would be re-evaluated, and if changes are necessary we would publish them in the August Crop Production report. Again, this information would be detailed in a notice following the release of the Acreage report.

If you could compare the current situation of weather uncertainties to a time in the past, which year(s) would you liken it to?

Each year is somewhat unique, as delays in planting will typically vary by state and crop.

What perspective can you give our farmers on the number of hours, personnel and so on that are invested in getting a good read for these monthly reports? What factors help or challenge you in getting accurate acreage totals that might help farmers—many of whom are frustrated by seemingly conflicting information from a variety of sources, e.g. USDA, market analysts, first-hand reports by fellow farmers—make better sense of the variations that occur in crop estimates?

NASS utilizes more than 3,000 part-time enumerators across the country to gather the information from farmers during the first two weeks of June. Full-time staff within the 12 regional field offices as well as headquarter units work diligently analyzing the data and formulating the estimates throughout the entire month of June. Because the data are gathered directly from the producers, accurate and complete reporting is the best way to ensure accurate results. These (and nearly all) NASS surveys are voluntary, so farmer support is critical to the process.

What other comments would you like to make?

NASS would like to sincerely thank all of the farmers across the country who took the time out of their busy schedules to provide information concerning their operations when contacted recently. The estimates contained in NASS reports are used by all facets of the agriculture industry to make informed decisions. The Acreage and Grain Stocks reports that will be published on June 30 are critical sources of information, based on the most complete and comprehensive data available. These and all other NASS reports are made available free of charge to everyone at precisely the same time, leveling the playing field. These estimates become the benchmark used by virtually everyone throughout the industry, and are considered the gold standard both for the United States and throughout the world.

Back to news



Spell Check

Floating Farmer
Bloomington, IL
6/29/2015 12:04 PM

  The government complains that they have no money!! Then why in the hell are we wasting money on this farse! How many millions of taxpayer money is being wasted???? Let me guess as to why we have these bogus reports! It is to keep grain prices depressed so the other 98.5% have cheap food prices!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All producers must have reported acres to their county FSA office by July 15th for row crops such as corn and soybeans!! This price dropping propaganda report should be made no sooner than August 1 so the USDA can sit and somehow manipulate factual information given to them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where is the Farm Bureau???? They should be lobbying Washington and seeing that these reports become more factual !!!!! I know where the Farm Bureau is!! It's not taking a stand just like the Farm Bureau not taking a stand for the farmer in the Syngenta Corn Producer lawsuit!!! Do we need outside law firms maybe to sue the federal government and pay these attornies 40% commission on lost grain prices not being received by the farmer! Oh no it's producers like myself seeking lawfirms in TEXAS to go after the big corporations like Syngenta because the Farm Bureau doesn't want to take a stand on the issue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would sure as hell would like to know why???????? Let me guess it involves $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ If I didn't buy farm bureau insurance I would ask for a refund of my dues!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chappell, NE
6/29/2015 09:17 AM

  Only a total fool would truthfully report anything to these obviously anti-farmer bozos. It's high time for them to go get real jobs.

Doyle Hancock
Bedford, IA
6/29/2015 07:32 AM

  I have been farming for around 25 years and never have been contacted by anyone this time of year asking what I have gotten planted.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer