Farmdoc Search Subscribe About Contact Us friends of farmdoc

Marketing & Outlook
Law & Taxation
Crop Insurance
Prices & Weather
Ag Links
Visit farmdoc daily
Visit farmdoc webinars
farmdoc Sponsors

September 28, 2003
FEFO 03-18


This newsletter reports acres in corn, soybeans, wheat, forages, and other crops on Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) farms from 1995 through 2002. Total acres in crops across all farms do not change much from year to year. In contrast, crop acres on individual farms can change dramatically. Individual farms within FBFM average a switch between crops of 9% per year.

Total Acres in Crops

Table 1 shows acres in crops averaged across all the FBFM farms. In 2002, for example, 48% of tillable acres were in corn, 45% in soybeans, 2% in wheat, 1% in double-crop soybeans, 2% in forages, and 3% in other acres. These percents do not total 100% because acres in double-crop soybeans also count towards another crop (mostly wheat). For 2002, percents total 101% because double-crop soybeans had 1% of the acres. The other category includes Conservation Reserve Protection (CRP) and set-aside (.8% of acres in 2002), seed corn (.8%), vegetable crops (.6%), and miscellaneous acres (.6%).

A noticeable shift in acres occurred between 1995 and 1996. Between these two years, corn and soybeans each gained 2% while forage crops declined by 1% and other acres decline by 3%. The 1995 Farm Bill was implemented between the two years and this Bill did not have set aside acre requirements. The decline in the other category was entirely attributable to a reduction in set aside acres in favor of corn and soybeans.

The 2002 Farm Bill may impact 2003 acres. At the time this newsletter was written, data to compute 2003 acres was not available. Reports from Illinois Agricultural Statistics suggest that between 2002 and 2003, corn acres declined, soybean acres increased, and wheat acres increased. This change appears to be mostly due to shifts in southern Illinois.

Percentages in Table 1 mask some of the variability across the state. Acres by Crop Reporting Districts are reported in Tables 3 through 10 located in the appendix. These tables show that corn is planted on more of the acres in the western Illinois (Table 5 and 7) and wheat has more acres in southern Illinois (Tables 10 and 11).

Acre Changes on Individual Illinois Farms

Between 1995 through 2002, acre shifts across the FBFM farms averaged 9%. This means that farms increased acres in one or more crops by 9% while reducing acres in other crops by 9%. Table 2 shows a distribution of acre changes. In 2002, for example, 12% of the farms had acre shifts of less than 1% of tillable acre, 34% of the farms had shifts between 1% and 5%, 26% of the farms had shifts between 5% and 10%, 14% of the farms had shifts between 10% and 20%, and 15% had shifts greater than 20%.

Smaller farms tend to have larger percent shifts in acres than larger farms. Between 2001 and 2002, farms with less than 500 tillable acres averaged an 11% shift while farms greater than 500 acres averaged a 7% shift. Farms in southern Illinois also average larger acreage shift. Between 2001 and 2002, farms in the southeast and southwest crop reporting districts averaged an 11 percent shift compared to a 9% shift for the rest of the state. However, the farm size and location factors do not account for a large portion of the variability in acres shifts across farms.


This newsletter examined crop acre changes across Illinois FBFM farms. Between 1996 through 2002, crop acres in Illinois did not change much. The shift in acres averaged across all Illinois farms averaged less than 1% per year. On individual farms, however, shifts in acres between crops averaged 9%. Changes on individual farms offset one another leading to the stable crop acres across the state. These results suggest that aggregate figures mask the variability of farm acre decisions that exist on farms.

The author would like to acknowledge that data used in this study comes from the local Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) Associations across the State of Illinois. Without their cooperation, information as comprehensive and accurate as this would not be available for educational purposes. FBFM, which consists of 6,000 plus farmers and 62 professional field staff, is a not-for-profit organization available to all farm operators in Illinois. FBFM field staff provide on-farm counsel with computerized recordkeeping, farm financial management, business entity planning and income tax management. For more information, please contact the State FBFM Office located at the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at 217-333-5511 or visit the FBFM website at

Issued by: Gary Schnitkey, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Appendix Tables: Crop Acres by Crop Reporting Districts


Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics    College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Home | Finance | Marketing & Outlook | Management | Law & Taxation
Policy | FAST Tools | Crop Insurance | Prices & Weather
Search | Subscribe | About farmdoc | Contact Us | friends of farmdoc
University of Illinois