Minnesota Farmer

Minnesota corn by the numbers

Some would say that Minnesota, especially southern Minnesota, is made to grow corn.  Most years we grow more corn per acre than all but the top producing states.  Of course, Iowa is tops producing 2.334 billion bushels of corn, but you can raise corn in all of Iowa.  Minnesota comes in 4th place with 1.224 billion bushels of corn, most of that grown in the southern half of the state.

What really impresses me is how much more corn we raise in Minnesota on each acre these years than in the past.  Take a look at this.

  • 2011  160 Bu/Acre
  • 2001  130 Bu/Acre
  • 1991  120 Bu/Acre
  • 1981  110 Bu/Acre
  • 1971   83 Bu/Acre
  • 1961   65 Bu/Acre

That is really an impressive increase in yield per acre in my lifetime.  Some of the early years of yield increase were due to the introduction of hybrid seeds and modern fertilizers, which dramatically increased yields over open pollinated corn.  The increase in the last ten years has been due to the revolution in genetic engineering.

The amazing thing about these increases is that many of the advances in the last thirty years have been done with less fertilizer, pesticide and insecticide than we used before the 1980’s.  With the help of university and private researchers the U.S. farmer has also cut erosion, pollution, machinery cost and labor cost per bushel in the same time period.  The farmer of today has learned to produce with so much less waste.  We have had to, to be able to feed so many in the world today.

A greater challenge is ahead of us.  As our world population increases, we are going to have to get more efficient yet.  Very few thought we could produce as much as we do now in the 1970’s, I expect we will be up to the challenge fifty years from now.



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