It was the wettest year on record for the lower 48 states, with the kind of extreme rainfall events that are increasingly associated with climate change. And then fall came in with unseasonably heavy rains and snow. That was the case for Aaron Heley Lehman, a farmer in central Iowa and president of the Iowa Farmers Union. “This has definitely been a bad year for almost all farmers in Iowa, even if you weren’t on river bottom ground and having your grain bins explode and your land underwater for weeks and weeks at a time,” he said. “It was still a very rough year.”
The Agriculture Department tracks how many acres of insured farmland went unplanted, a statistic referred to as prevented planting, and this year’s figures are the highest since the agency started reporting the figures in 2007. Over all, farmers reported being unable to plant on some 19 million acres for all crops in 2019 with more than 70 percent of those acres occurring in the rain-soaked Midwest.
For the two most important Midwestern crops, corn and soybeans, the 2019 figures showed 11.4 million acres for corn and 4.5 million acres for soybeans that went without crops being planted.