The USDA considers barley, corn, oats, rice, sorghum and wheat (as well as a few other minor grains) to be cereal grains. Each of these crops are cutlivated grasses that provide essential vitamins, minerals and proteins. In one form or another, these grains have been vital to human civilization for more than 8,000 years. At that time, the predecessors of our modern day wheat being cultivated in the Fertile Crescent - a large portion of what we today consider the Middle East. Around this time, Asia was busy domesticating and cultivating rices and sorghum.
These crops have been historically important to civilization, with population centers closely tied to areas that were suitable for these important crops. Agrarian economics were vital in the expansion and early success of the United States. When the USDA was founded in 1962, by the signing of an act of Congress by Abraham Lincoln, approximately half of the United States population lived on a farm. Despite the fact that today only about 2% of the United States population live on farms, grain is still a vital part of the global economy, in addition to meeting the dietary needs of the world's population.
Our dataset this week looks at acres planted and harvested by year and state by the primary cereal grains produced in the United States. With this background and dataset, what can you visualize?
Data is presented as downloaded from the USDA NASS Datatool with the exception of both Corn and Sorghum acres harvested. The data denoted as Corn - Acres Harvested, includes the Grain, Silage and Forage numbers for Corn. Similarly, for Sorghum, the Sorghum - Acres Harvested includes the Grain and Silage numbers.
This week's data source comes from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Statistics Service. The picture this week is of the wheat field behind my house.