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Report indicates corn acres planted are expected to be down 4 percent to 5.4 million acres, equaling the amount of soybean acres expected. (Erin Wicker/Special to Agweek)

South Dakota farmers plan for planting

BROOKINGS, S.D. — The 2017 planting season is in the early stages, but farmers have decided in advance what crops to seed.

Estimates created by the South Dakota Field Office, which is part of the Northern Plains Regional Field Office, of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service are showing a significant change this year from the past.

"South Dakota is following the national norm this year, with more soybeans this year than last," says Erik Gerlach, state statistician.

Soybean planted acres are estimated to be at 5.4 million acres in South Dakota this year. This is a record high and is up 4 percent from 2016.

Another notable difference is the decrease of corn by 4 percent from last year. This year, 5.4 million acres are expected to be planted, equal to the amount of soybeans anticipated. These numbers are likely influenced by changing prices.

Jonathan Kleinjan, SDSU Extension crop production associate, believes actual planted acres for corn may be different from expected planting intentions.

"It's hard to say, but I think there will be more corn, just from what I've been hearing," Kleinjan says. "It would have to be a pretty big price difference for farmers to switch out of rotation. Soybean prices would have to be significantly higher to switch from corn to soybeans if they'd been planning on corn."

Factors affecting what farmers will plant include price, crop rotation and storage concerns.

"Nationwide, I believe the trend of more soybeans will hold true. However, in this area, I think producers will be sticking to corn," Kleinjan says.

Planting of wheat acres is expected to be down, regardless of variety. Winter wheat, planted in the fall, is down 24 percent from the year before. For 2017 harvest, there are an estimated 900,000 acres planted. Spring wheat planting intentions are also down, in fact at a record low. There is a 13 percent decrease expected, creating a total of 940,000 acres. Durum wheat estimated planting is down 60 percent from last year, which ties the record low of 2013 and 2014 at 4,000 acres.

Hay acreage is estimated to be up 3 percent to a total of 3.2 million acres. Sunflowers planted are expected to increase 5 percent to a total of 585,000 acres. Dry edible peas are expected to be at 35,000 acres, an increase of 9 percent that would put it at a record high.

Oats are expected to be down 10 percent to 265,000 acres, sorghum is down 7 percent to 250,000 acres, and flaxseed down 70 percent to 3,000 acres.

Data for the survey was collected by the South Dakota office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"We mailed out questionnaires to 3,000 randomly selected producers the last week of February," Gerlach says. "The survey was conducted the first two weeks in March. Participants either mailed in responses or we reached out to them in person or on the phone for the information. From there, we summarized and compiled information to create the report."

The information was gathered from approximately 2,900 producers in South Dakota and adjusted to provide an accurate estimate for the state. The report, made available March 31, is a resource to provide information on prospective planting.