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David Sparks Ph.d Idaho Farm Money
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: July 17, 2018

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Idaho wheat, potato, corn and hay acres are estimated to be up slightly this year compared with 2017, while sugar beet, garbanzo, and lentil acres are estimated to be down slightly.

Dry bean acres in Idaho are forecast to be way down, according to USDA’s most recent planting intentions report, which was released June 29.

The report was compiled by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which asked farmers what crops they planted and hay acreage they expect to be cut for the 2018 growing season. The total sample size for the survey was 2,008 in Idaho.

Data was collected from May 30-June 15, while the previous report, released March 29, was based on data collected from Feb. 27-March 19, so the recent report gives a more accurate picture of the makeup of Idaho’s 2018 farm acres.

NASS estimates total Idaho wheat acres at 1.21 million in 2018, up 3 percent from 1.17 million in 2017. Winter wheat acres are forecast at 760,000, up from 720,000, while spring wheat acres are estimated at 430,000, up from 420,000 last year. Durum wheat acres are forecast at 20,000, down from 25,000.

Nationally, wheat acres are forecast to total 47.8 million, up 4 percent from 46 million last year.

“I think wheat acres are up because prices have been rallying a little bit,” said Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson.

NASS estimates potato acres in Idaho at 315,000 in 2018, up from 310,000 acres in 2017.

A separate estimate of Idaho potato acres by United Potato Growers of Idaho puts the state’s 2018 spud acreage at 311,000, up slightly from 307,000 in 2017.

Potato growers said they were expecting a bigger acreage increase given that McCain Foods USA’s $200 million expansion of its Burley processing plant was expected to add about an additional 12,000 acres in Idaho this year.

Subtracting those additional 12,000 acres, which are contracted, that means fresh potato acres in Idaho actually dropped this year, which is great news for Idaho potato farmers because it means a better supply and demand situation, spud growers said.

“That’s a really good thing,” Oakley spud farmer Randy Hardy said about the acreage estimate. “We’re extremely excited about it.”

The potato acreage estimates indicate about a 7,500- to 10,000-acre drop in fresh potato plantings in Idaho, said Aberdeen potato farmer Ritchey Toevs.

“That’s definitely a good surprise,” he said. “That’s a really positive move for the industry.”

The NASS plantings report has Idaho dry bean acres, excluding garbanzo beans, falling from 63,000 last year to 38,000 this year, a 40 percent decrease.

Idaho dry bean growers generally expect acres to decrease substantially this year but not 40 percent. Dry beans are grown in the Treasure Valley of southwestern Idaho and the Magic Valley of southcentral Idaho

“I have trouble accepting that number,” said Don Tolmie, production manager for Treasure Valley Seed Co. in Homedale. “That’s a precipitous drop.”

Tolmie said dry bean acres in the Treasure Valley are on par with last year, but Magic Valley growers said bean acres in their region are down significantly.

“I don’t know if it’s off (as much as the NASS estimate) but I would bet anything they’re down at least 30 percent in the Magic Valley,” said Kimberly farmer Monty Hamilton. “Everybody is battling huge inventories.”

Nationally, dry bean acres, not including garbanzos, are forecast to decline 23 percent.

NASS estimates Idaho barley acres at 530,000, even with last year, and it pegs all hay harvested in Idaho this year at 1.49 million acres, up 4 percent from 2017.

Idaho corn acres are estimated at 350,000, up 10,000 acres over 2017, and corn harvested for grain is forecast to increase 9 percent to 125,000 acres.

Idaho sugar beet acres are estimated at 163,000, down 4,000 acres from 2017.

Idaho acres for garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are estimated at 112,000 in 2018, down from 117,000 in 2017. Large chickpea acres are forecast at 63,000, down 8,000, while small chickpea acres are forecast at 49,000, up 3,000 from last year.

Lentil, dry edible pea, oat and Austrian winter pea acres in Idaho are all forecast to be down slightly from last year, while canola acres are forecast at 48,000, up 109 percent from 23,000 in 2017.

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