Farmers are proving they can do more with less as national corn and soybean yield averages climb year after year. Genetics, management and Mother Nature all undoubtedly play their roles, and some states have bigger wins to tout than others.
U.S. corn and soybean yield averages from 2013 to 2018 are well above trendlines, by 8.2 bu. per acre for corn and 3.7 bu. per acre for soybeans, according to the University of Illinois farmdoc daily.
Big Swing in Corn Yields
“Since 1995, actual corn yields in the U.S. usually are above trend,” Schnitkey says. “However, when yields are below trend, the actual yield can be well below trend. That occurred in 2012 when the actual yield of 123.1 bu. per acre was 35.3 bu. below the trend yield of 158.4 bu. per acre.”
Corn yield’s geographical variation, like soybeans, brings up a variety of questions as to why some states performed better than others. Schnitkey hypothesizes good growing conditions in parts of the eastern Corn Belt is likely a key factor in yields that are well above trend.
Soybeans Higher Yet Again
In 2018, soybeans boasted above-trendline yields in every state where the crop is grown.
“This six-year run has been remarkable in length,” writes Gary Schnitkey with farmdoc daily. “A combination of good growing conditions, continuing increases in genetic potential of soybean varieties and changes in farming practices are likely to contribute to high yields.”
While all states do show above-trendline yields, they aren’t equal. Some geographical patterns raise more questions than answers, Schnitkey says, such as South Dakota’s exceptional yields versus surrounding states.