According to a new study by the USDA Economic Research Service, a variety of factors have boosted corn production and prices from 2001, leading to a huge jump in corn acreage from 76 million in 2001 to 88 million in 2010.
The report, Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, Including Organic, 2010, released this month, discusses the practices and characteristics of U.S. corn producers and their operations.
According to ERS, farmers exhibited numerous differences in their production costs, yields, planted acres, farm incomes, and net returns from corn production.
Among the highlights, ERS says higher prices in general have allowed corn producers to establish greater returns on their crops. More than 90% of farmers in 2010, for example, covered their operating and ownership costs per bushel on corn crops based on harvest-month pricing. In contrast, 59% could do the same in 2001.
Average operating and ownership costs per bushel did not vary significantly by the number of planted corn acres per farm in 2010. Producers planting the fewest corn acres per farm, however, had the highest costs per bushel mainly because of their lower yields.
ERS notes that farmers with fewer acres had the lowest average operating and ownership costs per acre, while producers with larger acreages had higher costs per acre. In 2001, these costs per acre did not vary significantly by corn enterprise size, the report said.
Organic production, regional data >>
Returns on organic corn in 2010 were higher per acre than conventional corn, the report adds. Further, total operating and ownership costs were not statistically different between organic and convention corn, though organic operators did plant fewer acres per farm and operate smaller farms.
Most of the organic farms were centered in the Heartland (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Northern Missouri, Eastern Ohio and small portions of surrounding states) and Northern Crescent (Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and New England states) regions, though most corn overall – 66% of all corn in 2010 – is already grown in the Heartland region, the report said.
For complete data and charts, view the report: Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, Including Organic, 2010