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Ag statistics has many stories to tell

Fri, Nov 25th, 2011
Posted in Agriculture

Russ Krech was right! Years ago, I would often bring up the fact that Fillmore County was Number One in beef cows. Russ Krech, retired Houston County Ag Agent, would always come back with the statement that on a tillable acre basis Houston County had more cows! When I received the 2011edition of Minnesota Ag Statistics, I did a little math. Russ was right!

The 2011 Minnesota Agricultural Statistics is bigger than ever. It is a compilation of numbers gathered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the USDA. It includes rankings of Minnesota compared to other states in various commodities plus rankings of Minnesota Counties. There is also information on weather, costs and returns, production numbers, and more.

I knew that Minnesota was a major player in the agriculture economy, but when looking at where Minnesota ranked in the top 10, it is almost easier to say what commodities we are not ranked in the top group. We did not make it in Cattle/Calves, Minnesota is 11th. Sheep and lambs Minnesota was not quite there, we were 12th nationally. Minnesota also did not make the top 10 in chickens, and egg production.

Ignoring the obvious major commodities like corn, soybeans, milk cows, and hogs, there were number one rankings in barley, sugarbeets, sweet corn, and green peas. Other top 10 rankings were in honey, mink pelts, cheddar cheese, canola, flaxseed, potatoes, dry edible beans, sunflowers, oats, and wheat. Except for the cheddar cheese and oats, the rest of these products don't remind me of Fillmore and Houston Counties. This shows the broad diversity of products being produced in Minnesota.

Now to Fillmore and Houston Counties rankings; Fillmore is 7th in government payments, 5th in oats, 4th in alfalfa hay, 2nd in beef cows, 10th in milk cows, and tied for 4th in sheep & lambs. Houston County is 10th in oats, 5th in alfalfa hay, and 7th in beef cows.

2010 was a record crop year with both highs and lows. 2010 was the fewest acres of oats (165,000) raised in Minnesota since records started being kept in 1866. The peak year was 1945.

Not surprisingly, 2010 was the highest yield in corn (177 bu. /ac.) and highest production in both corn (1,292 million bushels) and soybeans (329 million bushels). The corn estimates go back to 1866 and soybeans to 1934.

Livestock production also had extremes. Minnesota had record milk production per cow in 2010 with 19,366 pounds of milk per cow. The low year was 4,300 pounds in 1934; estimates started in 1924. Sheep numbers were at record lows in 2010 in both Minnesota and the U.S. Minnesota was down to 130,000 head in 2011. The peak was 1943. Hog production numbers are reported quarterly, Minnesota had record numbers in the first quarter 2011, second quarter 2011, and fourth quarter 2010.

I found two places where Fillmore and Houston Counties bucked the trend in the last ten years. Houston County increased their dairy cow numbers from 9,700 to 9,900 head, and Fillmore County increased sheep numbers from 2,600 to 4,700 head.

What does this really mean? Agriculture is very important in both Fillmore and Houston Counties, but it is constantly changing. To learn more you can check out

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