By Katie Demeria
According to a recent survey by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, corn acreage decreased by around 10,000 acres between 2013 and 2014.
But state statistician Herman Ellison said the acreages fluctuate most years. This year's 500,000 acres may be less than last year's 510,000, but it is still a jump from 480,000 acres in 2009.
Acreage amounts have been holding steady throughout the state for corn as well as soybeans: 600,000 soybean acres were planted in 2014, a news release stated, matching the number planted in 2013. And in 2009, according to the service's data, 580,000 acres were planted.
The changes seen each year, Ellison said, reflect the nature of farming.
"It all depends on the demand for the crop, as well as the prices," Ellison said. "Farmers look at the markets and make their decisions based on those factors."
Things could change every year depending on how wet the ground is or other weather-related issues.
Elison pointed out that many farmres will also look into supply and demand throughout the world -- ethanol plants, for example, and what their current need is, could play a role in a farmer's decision.
"There are many factors that go into that decision in any given year," Ellison said.
Acres planted of corn and soybeans, two popular crops in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, have at least stayed fairly consistent over the past five years in Virginia, though increasing slightly, according to the service's data.
Ellison said the agricultural statistics service gets its data through surveys they send to farmers. From that data, they are able to keep track of various facets of the agriculture industry.
The information, provided by farmers and managed by the statistic service, allows farmers a broad view of what is going on in their industry, he said.
"It gives them an idea of what's going on across the world," Ellison sad. "This is their income, and this data helps them, on a daily basis, know how they are going to make their money."
Livestock farmers, for example, have a better understanding of how much supply is available depending on how much corn has been planted or how much hay is going to be harvested, Ellison pointed out.
At noon on Aug. 12, the service will publish the year's first forecast for corn and soybeans. The forecast is based on the farmers' reports, compiled on Aug. 1, regarding how much yield they expect this year.
Ellison said all the data compiled from farmers is confidential, and he encourages farmers to fill out the surveys they receive.
"The data they provide is very important because it tells a story," Ellison said.
To read more reports from the service, go to http://tiny.cc/exnrjx.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org