You probably heard, one of the more interesting facts in last Friday’s Prospective Plantings Report, that North Dakota farmers were going to plant 1.17 million more acres of corn than in 2011, and the total acreage of 3.4 million was a 52 percent increase in corn acres since the 2010 crop. You might be asking yourself why the interest in planting so much corn in a state that usually produces a quiet spring wheat crop. And if such acreage expansion is underway, what does that do to the average yield, since North Dakota probably cannot keep the yield pace of Illinois and Iowa?
Illinois Farm Management Specialist Gary Schnitkey asked himself some of the same questions, and came up with some interesting answers. His monthly newsletter noted the USDA’s expectations for 95.9 million acres to be planted, a 3.9 million acre increase from 2011 corn planting. He says that is 21% more acres than the average acreage from 2001 through 2005. He says while acreage has increased, there has been little change in where corn is planted. Consequently, he says the national expected yield should not change much. USDA is currently estimating a 164 bushel average yield, but that will be either confirmed or updated in the April 10 USDA Supply-Demand Report.
Schnitkey says the top six corn growing states have not changed, and the next group saw North Dakota rise from 16th up to 10th position with its acreage expansion. He said Iowa planted 25 percent of the nation’s corn acres in 2000 and still held the same share for the 2012 crop. Among other states:
1) Of the 15 largest corn planting states, seven did not have a share change between 2000 and 2012: Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, and Colorado.
2) Three states had decreases: Illinois, Indiana, and Texas each had a decrease of 1 percentage point.
3) Four states had increases: North Dakota with a 4 percentage point increase and Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas, and Michigan each had a 1 percentage point increase.
Between the eastern and western regions of the Cornbelt, Schnitkey says there have been changes, primarily due to the increased acreage in North Dakota.
1) The eastern Cornbelt has lost share while the western Cornbelt has gained share. The eastern Cornbelt – which includes Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan – decreased from 46 percent share in 2000 to 43 percent share in 2012.
2) The western Cornbelt – which includes Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota – increased from 75 percent to 81 percent in 2012. Much of the 6 percent increase in the western Cornbelt share is due to North Dakota. Taking out North Dakota from the western Cornbelt reduces the increase from a 6 percentage point change down to a 2 percentage point change.