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Ask an Ag Economist

If Iowa is the leader in corn production and has a poor corn crop, how can there be a bumper crop for the nation?

THE SIMPLE ANSWER IS ACREAGE: lots of corn acreage. Over the past five years, the United States has increased corn planting by over 10 million acres. Much of that acreage is outside the traditional Corn Belt, in places like the Northern Plains and the Southeast. While these acres don’t tend to yield as much as Iowa’s acres, they definitely add to the national total. For example, if those additional 10 million corn acres yield at 140 bushels per acre, that’s an additional 1.4 billion bushels of corn for the United States. For Iowa, a good year of corn production would result in roughly 2.4 billion bushels of corn; and in a poor production year, like last year, Iowa produced only 1.88 billion bushels of corn. So when Iowa corn production falls short, the US total declines by about 0.6 billion bushels of corn. The increase in corn production outside the Corn Belt is more than enough to offset Iowa’s loss and bring the US total corn production up to record levels.