How Many Farms Grow Just One, Two, or Three Crops?

Recently, the post “The Days of Diversified Farming are Disappearing” told us that cropland sizes in the U.S. have, on average, doubled in the last 20 to 25 years. We learned that specialization occurred most rapidly between the years of 1945 to 1970, and that now, 22 percent of farms produce only one crop, 30 percent only two crops, and eleven percent of farms produce five or more crops.

The graph above shows us which crops are most likely found on the less diversified farms.

From the USDA:

Less than 5 percent of the value of corn production occurs on farms that produce only corn, while more than half occurs on farms that produce at least two crops in addition to corn. Soybeans, often grown in rotations with corn, show a similar pattern. Among major field crops, rice and hay have the most specialized production, with 30 and 33 percent of the value of production, respectively, occurring on farms that raised only that crop.

Farms with combinations of crops can benefit economically from diversifying against income risks, and can also realize agronomic improvements from rotations that reduce pest infestations and improve soil quality.

SOURCE: Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming

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