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Published October 12, 2010, 08:57 AM

USDA to re-survey small grains farmers

BISMARCK, N.D. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it plans to review its estimates of this year’s spring wheat, durum wheat, barley and oats crops this month, though any adjustments are not likely to influence prices for farmers or consumers.

By: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it plans to review its estimates of this year’s spring wheat, durum wheat, barley and oats crops this month, though any adjustments are not likely to influence prices for farmers or consumers.

USDA estimates released in a Sept. 30 report were based on farmer surveys conducted early in the month, when there was significant unharvested acreage in North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington because of bad weather.

The Sept. 30 estimates included what amounts to farmers’ guesses about those unharvested areas. This month the USDA plans to resurvey farmers who still had crop in the field, and make adjustments to the official estimates if justified.

The late-September small grains summary usually is the USDA’s final word on production. This year will be the second in a row that the agency has contacted some farmers a second time.

“We have done it before for small grains but it doesn’t happen a lot,” said Darin Jantzi, director of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service field office in North Dakota, which leads the nation in the production of spring wheat, durum wheat and barley. “On average I would say once very four, five years it can happen. Last year was the first year since 2004. Two years in a row is pretty uncommon.”

Darin Newsom, senior analyst at the Omaha, Neb.-based market information company DTN, said he does not expect big changes in the government estimates that would sway market prices.

“Since the numbers in the (September) report came in below pre-report estimates, except for durum, I would venture a guess that the resurvey could bring those numbers back up to what was anticipated,” he said.

Last year’s resurvey of small grains crops did not result in big changes to the government figures.

“Historically, (large adjustments) have not been the case,” Jantzi said. “We’re just making sure we’re getting the right numbers. The one time we decide not to do it there would be a big change.”

Jantzi also said the amount of unharvested crop during this year’s survey was less than last year’s amount, making the prospect of significant changes even more remote. He declined to give numbers, saying USDA only releases published data.

Jantzi is recommending that the telephone surveys be done late in October to give farmers as much time as possible to get the rest of their crops in the bins.

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