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Quick Stats for Agriculture Questions

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Guest blog from James Shaw, Director of Collections at UNO Criss Library.

Here at UNO we have a graduate student in History writing a thesis about the history of Thurston County. As he explores the 1930s, he is examining agricultural production during the drought years. Climate data resides in Climatological Data of the United States, by Sections, and I thought that Nebraska Agricultural Statistics would provide the crop data. We discovered, however, that the Nebraska Agricultural Statistics have figures for acres harvested but not acres planted. The difference between those two numbers is indicative of growing conditions, and when viewed in conjunction with yield per acre, one can certainly sense the difference between a good year and a hard year (or during the 1930s, a hard year and a harder year).
Much to my surprise, I discovered that the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a database at http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov which permits you to drill down to annual county-level data as far back as 1910. I was able to download a spreadsheet for Thurston County providing annual data (1930-1940):
Annual number of acres of corn planted
Annual number of acres of corn harvested
Production measured in bushels
Production measured in bushels per acre

The Quick Stats trove of historical data is truly remarkable, and well worth adding to your reference toolkit.

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This page contains a single article from What's Up Doc created on November 17, 2010 4:05 PM.

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