A recent USDA Farm Services Crop Acreage Report confirms planted acres for 2019 in Wharton County took a drastic dip across the board, mirroring state and national numbers.

The wet winter and spring are to blame, according to Corrie Bowen, County Extension Agent.

The report posted Aug. 12 gives the farming industry a snapshot of how much was planted and how much wasn’t.

“This gets right down to it. We knew there would be a lot (of prevented planting),” Bowen said. “It reflects the weather we had.”

Prevented planting under crop insurance refers to acreage that cannot be planted because of flood, drought or other natural disaster and so is eligible for indemnification.

The wet weather conditions that began in August 2018 and lasted through February 2019 created many challenges for agriculture producers namely a delay in field prep work and planting.

“As the numbers show, many, many acres of the spring-planted crops were filed as prevented planting,” Bowen said. “Still, a considerable amount of acres were planted in this county.”

For 2019, Wharton County reported 68,580.98 acres of corn planted, and 17,024.93 acres were prevented; 13,542.16 acres of grain sorghum planted, and 2,282 acres prevented; 89,384.34 acres of cotton planted, and 5,668.98 acres prevented; 32,769.64 acres of rice planted, and 4,314.06 acres prevented; and, 8,819 acres of soybeans planted, and 28.24 acres prevented.

Total planted acres of the five major grain commodities in Wharton County for 2019 comes in at 213,096.12 acres planted, and 29,316 total acres prevented. In 2018, Wharton County had a total 236,282 planted acres, and 717 total acres prevented.

In Texas, 866,517 total acres were filed as prevented planting in 2019. In the U.S. this year, 19.2 million acres were filed as prevented planting - the most prevented plant acres reported by USDA since FSA began releasing this report in 2007.

The report reflects the same trends for neighboring Matagorda, Jackson and Colorado counties for the five major grain commodities, combined for 2019 — Matagorda planted 84,107 total acres with 54,588 acres prevented; Jackson planted 130,762 total acres with 30,109 acres prevented; and, Colorado planted 44,231 acres with 11,412 acres prevented.

Planted cotton acres in Wharton County remained about the same as in 2018. Wharton County had 90,114 acres planted to cotton in 2018; 89,384 acres planted to cotton in 2019.

“Yet the trend for the past two years has been to plant more cotton,” Bowen said.

“Wharton County could have seen 95,000 acres of cotton this year had it not been for the 5,000 acres that didn’t get planted. In the four-county area of Wharton, Jackson, Matagorda and Colorado combined, 2018 saw 231,894 acres of cotton planted, compared to 218,266 acres of cotton planted in 2019,” he added.

Producers are protected through crop insurance.

“Prevented planting provisions in insurance policies can provide valuable coverage when extreme weather conditions prevent expected plantings,” Bowen said.

Farmers either select full indemnity on their policy for the first insured crop, or the crop being prevented (for example corn).

“It is also likely that farmers this year chose to plant and insure a second crop (for example cotton or soybeans) under which there would be a 65 percent reduction in indemnity for first insured crop (corn) and the producer pays 35 percent of the premium for the first insured crop,” he said.

FSA policy requires that producers participating in several programs submit an annual report, or certify all cropland use on their farms. These programs include Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Reporting also applies to those who receive marketing assistance loans or loan deficiency payments. The deadline to certify planted acres was July 15. This year, USDA extended the deadline to July 22 for the mid-western states that experienced severe flooding and delayed planting.

Updated reports will be released each month until the end of the year.

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