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Record crop production forecast, but it’s still early

Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are expected to see record corn and soybean yields.

Chris Torres

August 20, 2021

5 Min Read
corn field
RECORD-BREAKING YIELDS: This cornfield in southern Lancaster County got a healthy dose of rain this past week, but that’s the way it’s been all season. Timely rains in southeast Pennsylvania have allowed corn and soybeans to grow nice ears and big pods. Corn and soybean yields are expected to break records this fall if Mother Nature allows it, of course. Chris Torres

If records are meant to be broken, then 2021 will be a banner year for many farmers in the Northeast, Ohio and Michigan. But Mother Nature can always throw a wrench in the plans.

Record corn and soybean yields are forecasted for Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the first crop production fall forecast by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Maryland farmers also harvested a record amount of winter wheat.

In Ohio, the state with the most corn and soybean production in the region, farmers are expected to harvest 652 million bushels of corn, up 15.6% from last year and a record high. Average corn yield is forecast at 193 bushels per acre, up 12.8% from last year and also a record high.

Soybean production is estimated to be a record-high 283 million bushels, up 8% from last year. Average yield is estimated at 58 bushels per acre, also a record.

“Spring planting conditions were very good, which allowed farmers to plant their corn and soybean crops much more quickly than normal. Temperatures and precipitation during the growing season have been conducive to crop growth,” Cheryl Turner, USDA state statistician for Ohio, says in a news release.

Michigan corn production is expected to be 319 million bushels, up 4% from last year. Yields are expected to average 169 bushels per acre, up 9.7% over last year and a record. Soybean production is estimated at 109.9 million bushels, up 6.8% from last year, a record high. Estimated yield is 48 bushels per acre, up slightly over 2020.

“Major field crops weathered a droughty early June better than anticipated and took advantage of rains in late June and July to progress ahead of their five-year averages,” Marlo D. Johnson, regional director of the USDA-NASS Great Lakes Regional Office, says in a news release.

Record corn and soybean yields are forecasted for Pennsylvania. The crop production forecast pegs overall corn production in the Keystone State at 148 million bushels, 7% higher than 2020. Yields are expected to average 164 bushels per acre, up 26 bushels from 2020 and a record high, says King Whetstone, director of the USDA-NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office.

Farmers are expected to harvest 900,000 acres of grain corn, down 10% from a year ago.

Soybean production is forecast at 33.4 million bushels, up 15% from 2020, and yields are expected to average 53 bushels per acre, also a record high and up 7 bushels from last year.

Farmers are expected to harvest 630,000 acres, unchanged from 2020.

New York state farmers are expected to harvest 83 million bushels of corn, up 3.75% over last year. Yields are expected to average 166 bushels per acre, up 5.7% from last year. Farmers are expected to harvest 500,000 acres of grain corn, down 10,000 acres from last year.

Soybean production in the Empire State is forecast at 17.5 million bushels, up 10% from 2020. Average yields will average 54 bushels per acre, up 5.8%. Farmers are expected to harvest 325,000 acres of soybeans, up 13,000 acres from last year.

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Maryland and Delaware production

South of the Mason-Dixon Line, farmers are expected to produce less corn but more soybeans over last year.

Maryland farmers are expected to produce 63.9 million bushels of corn, down 4.12% over last year. Average yield is forecast at 164 bushels per acre, up 5.8%. Farmers are expected to harvest 390,000 acres of corn, a drop of 40,000 acres.

And some of those acres clearly went to soybeans as farmers are expected to harvest 480,000 acres of soybeans, up 15,000 acres from last year. Production is estimated at 24.48 million bushels, up 12.2%. Yields are expected to average 51 bushels per acre, up 8.5% over last year.

Delaware farmers are expected to harvest 27.2 million bushels of corn, down 3.4% from last year, with an average yield of 160 bushels per acre, unchanged from a year ago. Soybean production, however, is higher with 7.74 million bushels forecast to be harvested, up 6.75% over last year. Average yield is forecast at 49 bushels per acre, unchanged from last year. Acreage, at 158,000, is up 10,000 from last year.

Here’s a rundown of alfalfa, oats, all other hay and winter wheat production in the region:

Oats

Maine: 1.68 million bushels, 70 bushels per acre

Michigan: 1.5 million bushels, 60 bushels per acre

New York: 2.41 million bushels, 67 bushels per acre

Ohio: 2.04 million bushels, 68 bushels per acre

Pennsylvania: 2.17 million bushels, 62 bushels per acre

Alfalfa

Michigan: 1.45 million tons, 2.6 tons per acre

New York: 616,000 tons, 2.20 tons per acre

Ohio: 930,000 tons, 3.1 tons per acre

Pennsylvania: 1.05 million tons, 3 tons per acre

All other hay

Michigan: 345,000 tons, 1.5 tons per acre

New York: 1.7 million tons, 2 tons per acre

Ohio: 1.25 million tons, 2.2 tons per acre

Pennsylvania: 2.15 million tons, 2.5 tons per acre

Winter wheat

Maryland: 13.28 million bushels, 83 bushels per acre

Ohio: 43.7 million bushels, 81 bushels per acre

Michigan: 45.6 million bushels, 80 bushels per acre

National view

U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.8 billion bushels, up 4% from 2020. Yields are expected to average 174.6 bushels per acre, up 2.6 bushels from last year.

Soybean production is forecast at 4.34 billion bushels, up 5% from 2020. Yields are expected to average 50 bushels per acre, down 0.2 bushels from 2020.  

Winter wheat production is forecast at 1.32 billion bushels, up 13% from 2020. Yield is forecast at 51.8 bushels per acre, up 0.9 bushels from last year’s average.

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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