Numbers released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirm what many U.S. farmers already knew – that the weather has made this year the worst planting season on record.
Heavy rainfall, flooding and other adverse events prevented more than 19.4 million acres of crops from being planted across the country and most significantly in the Midwest, which saw a sharp decline in corn, soybean and wheat.
Overall, it’s an increase of nearly 17.5 million prevented plant acres from this time last year and is the highest number reported since 2007, when the USDA began releasing the report, the agency said.
Among the hardest-hit states were Ohio, Arkansas, Michigan and Mississippi, according to the USDA data.
In Missouri alone, a total of more than 1.39 million acres that normally would be planted with crops are lying fallow this year. That includes 744,273 acres of corn and 477,731 acres of soybeans.
It was the first time Keith Truckor, who has farmed for about 40 years, couldn't plant a crop.
Truckor, 57, who farms in Fulton County in northwest Ohio, normally plants 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans.
"It was a tough decision emotionally and financially," he said. "We as farmers take a lot of pride in planting our crop every spring, and nurturing that crop through the growing season and in harvesting that crop in the fall. Emotionally, you want to get out there and do that, because that's the way you've been brought up."
The record in Ohio was shattered this year for the percentage of acres where farmers invoked their prevented-planting insurance, which allows farmers to collect when conditions such as heavy rainfall and flooding prevent them from planting crops. They receive money to cover fixed costs, which is a fraction of the money they would receive from a thriving crop.
Truckor is not alone.
Nationally, most of the acreage where farmers were prevented from planting due to weather conditions was for corn, at 11.2 million acres, followed by soybeans at 4.4 million acres, the USDA reported. Taking into account all acres where crops either failed or farmers did not plant, Louisiana had the highest percentage of affected agricultural land, followed by Massachusetts and Ohio.
As for Truckor, he looks to next season.
"My hope and prayers are that we don't get a couple more back-to-back bad years," Truckor said. "We tend to see, the law of averages, you know you tend to average yourself out. You've got to take the good with the bad or the business that we're in called farming will beat you up pretty bad. It sure hurts in the heat of the moment.
"Our family and the community – there's a lot of support there," he said. "We'll get through this."