Part II: North Dakota, more diverse than you think…

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When looking at farm and ranch statistics from the USDA Census of Agriculture, a person could take all day picking apart the various numbers, crops, livestock and even ag processing.


There are farms themselves, which in 2017 totaled 26,374 that included 39.3 million acres. The average size of a North Dakota farm was 1,492 acres with the median size at 564 acres. We had 10,568 farms that exceeded 12,000 acres; 3,184 were from 500 to 999 acres; 4,549 were listed between180 and 499 acres; 4,988 were between 50 and 179 acres; 2,514 totaled 10 to 49 acres and finally 571 farms were 1 to 9 acres.


A total of 8,245 farms had beef cattle and only 156 had dairy cattle. Likewise, 156 grew hogs and 85 meat-type chickens.
In 2017, 764 farms had irrigation on 263,885 acres of cropland.


Here are some interesting statistics. In 2017, 112 farms across the state were listed as having agri-tourism and recreational services that produced $1.47 million. That was actually a considerable drop from 2012 when 167 farms considered themselves agri-tourism, however, the income generated was $1.1 million.


In 2017, 29,423 horses were living on 4,138 North Dakota farms. The highest number was 2,650 horses on 322 Burleigh County farms. Also in 2017, 979 mules, burros or donkeys lived on 386 farms and again, Burleigh County led the state with 57 of the animals on 35 farms.


Seventy-one farms in 2017 raised 575,322 turkeys. In addition, 233 farms had ducks and geese, but a population wasn’t listed. There were four farms that had 50 emus, 90 farms had guineas, 23 had peacocks, 15 had pheasants, two had quail and six actually had pigeons.


Aquaculture is another rising agricultural star in North Dakota that is just getting its footing. A total of six farms reported acquaculture sales in McLean and Barnes counties. The sales included trout, baitfish and sport or game fish.
Nineteen farms had 249 alpacas, 69 farms had 12,127 bison, with 1,310 head alone in Benson County. There were 580 deer held in captivity on three farms; two in McLean and one in Ransom county.


In 2017, North Dakota had 78 orchards that totaled 123 acres. Cass County had 10 orchards that totaled 51 acres. Eighteen of the orchards were irrigated totaling 37 acres.


Most of what is being presented here is from 2017. However, I ran across a statistic from the 2012 census that I felt needed to be added and that was citrus fruit. Four farms had citrus fruit and two had pomegranates. Unfortunately, the information isn’t more specific.


There were 13 acres of nuts on seven farms in 2017. They included two farms in Cass and Burleigh counties each and one each in Benson, Bottineau and McLean. The McLean County farm had chestnuts, Benson and Cass County farms had Hazelnuts and Bottineau County had a farm growing walnuts. Two farms were listed as having “other nuts.”
Berries were another interesting set of numbers. When we think of berries, we think of raspberries. And yes, 17 farms had 7 acres of raspberries with five in Ward and three in Pierce. But that is only part of the berry collection.


Eighty-eight acres of aronia berries are grown on 24 farms. Nine farms are in Cass, five in Wells, three in Pierce, two in Williams and one each in Benson, Foster and Steele counties.


Contrary to what most people think, there are blueberries in the state. Three farms, all of them in Pierce County, grow blueberries, while 11 farms grow currants.


Eighteen farms had a total of four acres of strawberries. The largest number is Pierce County with three farms, followed by Bottineau, Cavalier, Foster, Hettinger, Sioux and Ward with two each.


And finally, 14 North Dakota farms in 2017 had 44 acres of cultivated Christmas trees. They included three in Griggs, three in Pembina, two each in Richland and Steele, and one each in Bottineau, LaMoure, McLean and Ramsey counties.
There, you see, North Dakota is more diverse than we tend to think, and I didn’t get into greenhouse production, cut flowers or mushrooms. The list is just endless.

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