Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published as Research Discussion Paper No. 44, August 2000. Copyright © by the authors. Used by permission.


The information presented in this report represents data collected from farming and ranching operations in the southern two tiers of counties in Nebraska. This study was based on a random sample of 15 1 southern Nebraska farms that have annually-planted crop acreage. Information was obtained for the 1997 crop year. This data set is referred to as the MSU/UNL survey data.

From the MSU/UNL survey data, the average size of the farming operations in the survey, in 1997, was 1,3 16 acres. Of these, 856 acres were planted to annual crops, and the remaining 460 acres included 61 acres in fallow, 29 acres in hay, 287 acres in range and pasture, 28 acres in CRP, and 55 acres in other uses. Operation size was largest in the west, due mostly to a large number of range and pasture land acres per operator. Average farm size decreased in the east as range and pasture land acres and acres fallowed per farm both decreased. Acreage planted to annual crops was similar from east to west.

Irrigated and dryland grain corn was the predominant crop grown in the survey area. Other major crops included soybeans, sorghum, and winter wheat. An estimated 44 percent of the respondents' cropland acreage was dedicated to corn production. Other annual crops included soybean (21 percent of cropland acreage), sorghum (10 percent of cropland acreage), winter wheat (12 percent of cropland acreage), and minor crops (4 percent of cropland acreage) with most of the remaining cropland in fallow. The distribution of these crops varied across the southern tier of Nebraska counties. Winter wheat was most common in the west and soybean was more prevalent in the east. About 65 percent of total cropland acreage reported was dryland while the remaining 35 percent was irrigated. Significantly more irrigation takes place in the central area.

Two-thirds of the operations surveyed reported some type of livestock enterprise. Cattle were the most common type of livestock reported, followed by hogs and sheep. Breeding cattle numbers were greater than feeder cattle numbers. Dairy cattle were rarely reported except in the eastern counties. Producers in the central and eastern counties also reported hog production, with feeder hogs greatly outnumbering breeding animals.

Comparisons of acres planted and crop yields from the MSU/UNL survey data to data collected by Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), for the same year, show little differences. Most estimates are within 2 percentage points of each other.