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13 Southern states play important role in U.S. corn supply

In 2023, U.S. farmers intend to plant 3.4 million more corn acres with 25% of those in the South. Ten of the 13 Southern states are increasing their corn acres by 10% or more.

Mark Welch, Economist, marketing

May 11, 2023

3 Min Read
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The South planted 9.370 million acres of corn in 2022. USDA's prospective plantings survey showed intentions to plant 10.235 million in 2023.Shelley E. Huguley

USDA’s March 31-Prospective Plantings report showed U.S. farmers intend to increase corn acres from 88.6 million in 2022 to 92.0 million in 2023. Of the 3.4-million-acre national increase, 865,000 acres or about 25%, are in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Of these 13 states, 10 show increases of 10% or more (Figure 1). Only Texas and Florida show a decrease in corn acres year to year. One influence increasing southern corn acres was that the harvest futures price of corn this winter and early spring was high relative to the harvest futures price of cotton. The 10 states with an increase in corn acres decreased cotton acres by 789,000. Texas farmers indicated they intend to plant 100,000 fewer acres of corn, 1.650 million fewer acres of cotton but 1.4 million more acres of wheat and increase hay harvested area by 610,000 acres.  

The South planted 9.370 million acres of corn in 2022. The prospective plantings survey showed intentions to plant 10.235 million in 2023.

Figure 1. 2023 Corn Planted Acreage, “Prospective Plantings”

In 2000, the average corn yield in the South was 120.8 bushels per acre compared to 136.9 bushels per acre nationally. Since that time, corn yield increases in the South have kept pace with the rate of corn yield increases nationally, both about 1.8 bushels per year (Figure 2). Notable is the greater degree in yield variability in the South compared to the national average. In the 23 years since 2000, corn yields in the South have been above or below the trendline yield by more than 10% seven times: -14%, 2002; +11 %, 2004; -15%, 2011; -12%, 2012; +13%, 2013; +11%, 2014; -11%, 2022. The national corn yield has only been above or below trend by 10% or more twice in that same period of time: +11% in 2004; -22% in 2012.

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Figure 2. Corn Yields: South and U.S. with trendlines and projections to 2023 (bushels r acre)

Trendline yield growth in 11 southern states has exceeded the national average, three below average – North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas (Figure 3). Texas, the state with the largest corn acreage in this region, has essentially had no change in average yields since 2000. 

Figure 3. Trendline Yield Increase, 2000 to 2022 (bushels per acre)

Based on the prospective plantings survey, 10-year average percent harvested calculations, and the trendline yield projection, corn production in the South would increase by 308 million bushels in 2023 compared to 2022.  

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Table 1. 2022 Corn Production in the South with Projections for 2023

Since 2000, corn production in the South has averaged 8.9% of total U.S. corn production, with a low of 7.5% in 2006 to a high of 11.0% in 2013 (USDA, NASS, 2023c) (Figure 4). As a share of total U.S. production, corn in the South increases from 8.3% in 2022 to 9.7% projected for 2023. This percentage is consistent with the increasing importance of southern corn production to the U.S. corn supply. However, the broad range of growing conditions across the South means yield variability in that supply is more likely year to year.

Figure 4. South’s Share of U.S. Corn Production

Source: Southern Ag Today

About the Author(s)

Mark Welch

Economist, marketing, Texas A&M University

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