North Dakota farmers, as expected, planted markedly more soybean acres than spring wheat this year.

The state’s farmers put in a record 7.2 million acres of soybeans and about 6.8 million acres, or about 5.5% fewer acres, of wheat this spring, according to the U.S. Agriculture acreage report issued Wednesday, June 30.

The USDA prospective planting report, released on March 31, had pegged North Dakota's 2021 soybean acreage at 7 million acres.

North Dakota soybean acreage this year was even higher than the earlier report projected. Farmers planted 25% more than soybeans than last last year and had the fourth highest acreage in the United States, behind No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Minnesota, the report said. In Minnesota, farmers planted 7.7 million acres of soybeans this spring, 300,000 more than last year.

Total U.S. soybean acres are estimated at 86.7 million, a 5% increase over 2020 and the third highest acreage on record.

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The increase in North Dakota soybean acreage means the state’s farmers for the second straight year are growing more soybeans than wheat, which traditionally has been the king crop in the state.

North Dakota farmers planted 6.8 million acres of wheat; U.S. farmers planted a total of 46.7 million wheat acres in 2021. While that’s 5% more acres than last year, it is the fourth lowest amount since record-keeping began in 1919, the National Agricultural Statistics Service said.

Interest in corn also grew this year among North Dakota farmers. The state's corn acreage increased by 85% over last year to 3.6 million. In 2020, when some North Dakota farmers still were combining their 2019 corn crop during spring planting season, they sharply reduced their acreage, planting slightly under 2 million acres, USDA said.

Minnesota corn acreage, estimated at 8.5 million, is the fourth largest in the United States, behind Iowa, Indiana and Nebraska, the USDA report estimated. Total 2021 U.S. corn acreage is 92.7 million, 2% higher than 2020.

Meanwhile, U.S. acreage of potatoes, a specialty crop, increased by 20,000 from 2020 to 943,000 this year. Most of the acreage increase is in Idaho, where farmers planted 15,000 more acres in 2021 than they did last year. Ninety-two percent of the potatoes Idaho farmers planted this year are russet, USDA said. Idaho farmers increased their russet acreage, gambling that processors would buy more than the amount they had contracted.

North Dakota farmers planted 73,0000 acres of potatoes this year, 1,000 acres more than in 2020, and Minnesota farmers increased their acreage by 2,000 to 44,000.

Acreage of edible beans, another North Dakota and Minnesota specialty crop, declined this year. North Dakota farmers planted 690,000 acres in 2021. It's a decrease of 15%, or 125,000 acres, from last year. Minnesota edible bean acreage is 275,000 this year, 40,000 less than 2020.

Sunflower acreage also fell in North Dakota this year. The state’s farmers planted 500,000 oil acres, a 22% decrease from last year. Non-oil sunflower acreage fell to a record low of 40,000, 57% less than last year.