Cropland in the commonwealth: Here’s what’s growing across the state |The Numbers Racket Returns

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2017 Census of Agriculture (Screen Capture).

The Numbers Racket is back from its hiatus just in time to crunch some data that’s Pennsylvania Farm Show festive. 

If you’re joining us fresh from the Farm Show, or just enjoy delving into data, this week’s Numbers Racket is for you.

The entirety of the data included below was released in October 2019 by the Pennsylvania State Data Center. It shows the breakdown of Pennsylvania’s land use devoted to agricultural purposes and the harvested crops.

Shall we begin?

The Breakdown

Pennsylvania had nearly 4 million acres of harvested cropland as of 2017, according to the report. The map below shows the counties ranked by their percentage of total cropland.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2017 Census of Agriculture (Screen Capture).

Counties with the Highest Harvested Cropland

  1. Lancaster County – 290,000 acres, 48.5% of total land area devoted to harvested cropland
  2. Franklin County – 196,000 acres, 39.8% of total land area devoted to harvested cropland
  3. York County – 184,000 acres, beat out by Cumberland County in percentage of land area devoted to harvested cropland (37%).

48,000 – the number of acres of vegetables harvested in Pa. in 2017, according to the Census of Agriculture.

7,600 – the number of acres of potatoes harvested.

6,800 – the number of acres of pumpkins harvested.

The Vegetables by County

  1. Sweet corn – the most harvested vegetable in 40 counties
  2. Pumpkins – the most harvested vegetable in 11 counties
  3. Beans & potatoes – the most harvested vegetable in six counties
  4. Peppers – the most harvested vegetables in two counties
  5. Melons – the most harvested vegetables in a single county – Montour County, actually (wait, melons are vegetables?)
Source: United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2017 Census of Agriculture (Screen Capture).

Totals: Altogether, sweet corn, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, peppers and melons made up more than two-thirds (68.5%) of Pennsylvania’s harvested vegetables.

The Thousand Acre Club

Each of the following veggies had over 1,000 harvested acres in the Keystone state.

  • cabbage (the kraut isn’t going to make itself)
  • melons
  • peppers
  • squash

The Show-offs

Showing off its agricultural prowess, Lancaster County was the largest grower of 22 of the 26 vegetables included in the Census of Agriculture report. The counties rounding out the top four by vegetable were  Columbia County, 1,843 acres of beans; Franklin County, 143 acres of peppers and 90 acres of cucumbers; and Erie County, 1,247 acres of potatoes.

 

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.