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Iowa again leads nation in corn productionIowa again leads nation in corn production

Despite dry weather, Iowa produced near-record corn and soybean crops in 2017.

Rod Swoboda 1

January 25, 2018

4 Min Read
BIG CROPS: Final tally for 2017 shows Iowa harvested its second-largest corn and soybean crops ever. Iowa has led the nation in corn production for the last 24 consecutive years and 39 of the last 40 years.

Despite a warm and dry June and July, Iowa ended up producing near-record crops of both corn and soybeans in 2017. That’s according to USDA’s “final” estimates for the year, released Jan. 12. Iowa farmers produced 5% less corn than the record 2016 crop, and 1% less soybeans than the 2016 record soybean harvest.

“Yields turned out better than expected for many producers, even in parts of the state affected by extremely dry weather during the growing season,” says Greg Thessen, director of USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service Upper Midwest regional office in Des Moines, serving Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Iowa went into the 2017 growing season with a good supply of reserve subsoil moisture. After a warm and dry June and July, August turned cooler and the growing season finished with timely rains and a cool September and October.

Reaching deep, corn and soybean roots tapped into the subsoil moisture, so did the hay crop. Iowa’s production of all hay in 2017 was up from 2016 by 4%.

Iowa continues as leading corn producer
Looking at the national numbers, USDA pegs the 2017 U.S. corn crop at 14.6 billion bushels, down 4% from 2016’s record 15.1 billion bushels. For soybeans, the estimate for 2017 is 4.39 billion bushels, a record-large U.S. soybean crop, according to USDA’s Crop Production 2017 Summary report.

Corn for grain production in Iowa for 2017 is estimated at 2.61 billion bushels, 5% less than the state’s previous record of 2.74 billion bushels set in 2016. Iowa has led the nation in corn production for the last 24 consecutive years and 39 of the last 40 years.

Iowa's corn for grain yield is estimated at 202 bushels per acre for 2017, only the second time Iowa’s average corn yield has been over 200 bushels per acre. Area harvested for grain is 12.9 million acres, equal to the estimate USDA released in November, but 600,000 acres below 2016. Corn planted for all purposes (grain plus silage) in 2017 is estimated at 13.3 million acres.

Corn for silage production, at 6.93 million tons, is down 12% from 2016. The silage yield estimate of 21 tons per acre is down 3 tons per acre from 2016. Iowa harvested 330,000 acres of corn for silage in 2017, unchanged from 2016.

Iowa 2nd to Illinois in soybean production
USDA says Illinois produced 612 million bushels of soybeans in 2017, with Iowa coming in second as the two top states in U.S. soybean production.

Soybean production for Iowa is estimated at 562 million bushels for 2017. That’s down 1% from the record of 566 million bushels set in 2016. Iowa’s soybean crop yielded 56.5 bushels per acre in 2017. Harvested acreage of 9.94 million is down 10,000 acres from November’s forecast, but up 500,000 acres from 2016. Soybean-planted acreage, at 10 million, is unchanged from November, but 500,000 acres above 2016. Farmers in 2017 planted the most acres to soybeans in Iowa since 2006.

All hay production for Iowa is estimated at 3.35 million tons, up 4% from 3.21 million tons produced in 2016. Producers averaged 3.10 tons per acre, down from 3.53 tons in 2016. All-hay harvested acres are estimated at 1.08 million acres, up 170,000 acres from 2016.

Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures production is 2.52 million tons, up 9% from 2016. Producers averaged 3.50 tons per acre, down 0.7 ton from 2016. Harvested acres were up 170,000 from 2016, to 720,000 acres. Iowa farmers seeded 80,000 acres of new seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures in 2017, equal to 2016.

Production of other types of hay is estimated at 828,000 tons, down 8% from 2016.  Producers averaged 2.3 tons per acre, 0.2 ton per acre below the 2016 yield. Harvested acres of other types of hay at 360,000 acres total are equal to 2016.

U.S. corn, soybean production
Corn for grain production in 2017 is estimated at 14.6 billion bushels for the U.S., down 4% from 2016, but still the second-largest corn crop in U.S. history. The average U.S. yield is estimated at a record-high 176.6 bushels per acre, 2 bushels above the 2016 average yield of 174.6 bushels per acre. Area harvested for grain is estimated at 82.7 million acres, down 5% from 2016.

Soybean production in 2017 for the nation totaled a record 4.39 billion bushels, up 2% from 2016. Average yield per acre is 49.1 bushels, 2.9 bushels below the 2016 record yield, but harvested area is up 8% from 2016 to a record high of 89.5 million acres.

The complete Crop Production 2017 Summary report can be found under “Publications” on the USDA-NASS website nass.usda.gov.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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