Corn growers set record

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service released their estimates for corn and soybeans in 2017. Minnesota saw their third year in a row of historic corn numbers, with soybeans taking a slight dip from last year.

Corn yields rose to an average of 194 bushels per acre in 2017, eclipsing the prior year of 193 bushels per acre. In 2015, corn yields were an average of 188 bushels per acre.

Minnesota corn growers saw a third record-setting year of yields, according to estimates by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Corn yields rose to an average of 194 bushels per acre in 2017, eclipsing the prior year of 193 bushels per acre. In 2015, corn yields were an average of 188 bushels per acre.

Kirby Hettver, the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said high yields are essential for corn growers in preserving equity with low commodity prices still plaguing farmers.

Hettver farms in Swift, Chippewa, and Yellow Medicine counties. Hettver said in Swift and Chippewa counties, they averaged 220 bushels of corn per acre, an amount that's higher than previous years. In Yellow Medicine county they had a slightly lower year.

Based on the NASS data, Minnesota had an estimated total 2017 corn production of just more than 1.48 billion bushels, compared to 1.54 billion bushels in 2016, 1.43 billion bushels in 2015, and 1.18 billion bushels in 2014.


Twenty-eight counties in the southern third of Minnesota had 2017 average corn yields that exceeded 200 bushels per acre. Watonwan County had the highest estimated average corn yield at almost 219 bushels per acre.

Hettver also farms soybeans, saying harvest was likely 10 bushel per acre lower than the previous year. Farmers across the state can relate to Hettver's soybean struggles.

Soybeans dropped to 47 bushels per acre in 2017, missing the previous year's yields that were 52 bushels per acre.

Minnesota produced just more than 380.2 million bushels of soybeans in 2017, compared to slightly less than 389.5 million bushels in 2016, and 377.5 million bushels in 2015.

The top five soybean producing counties in 2017 all exceeded a total production of more than10 million bushels, led by Polk County in Northwest Minnesota with 12.3 million bushels.

Michael Petefish, the president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, said there shouldn't be an over-reaction to the soybean numbers, citing the 47 bushels per acre as being closer to historic trend lines. According to NASS, during the past 20 years, 47 bushels per acre has been more than than any other year except 2015 and 2016.

Petefish, a resident of Claremont, Minn., said that on his farm they also dealt with white mold issues and he cited an exceptionally cold August while their soybeans were preparing for harvest.

Both Petefish and Hettver said that weather always plays a factor in the growing and production of corn and soybeans. "Mother nature holds the trump card," Hettver said.


Craig Kilian, vice president of grain at Central Farm Service, said the weather's effect on grain elevators was actually positive. Kilian said because of the fall's wet weather, farmers were able to move product out of the grain elevators instead of being in the field.

Central Farm Service oversees 20 grain elevators in Minnesota and Iowa. Kilian said they've been working diligently, while commodity prices are higher than usual, to move product from the elevators.

Selling to ethanol plants is common, according to Kilian, especially in the western part of the state.

In Iowa

The estimated 2017 statewide average corn yield in Iowa was 202 bushels per acre, which is just below the record Iowa average corn yield of 203 bushels per acre in 2016; however, the 2017 yield was well above the 192 bushels per acre yield level in 2015.

Iowa produced just more than 561.5 million bushels of soybeans in 2017, compared 566.4 million bushels in 2016, based on the NASS production estimates. Iowa had an estimated 2017 statewide average soybean yield of 56.5 bushels per acre, well below the 2016 record average statewide soybean yield of 60 bushels per acre.

Iowa produced just more than 2.6 billion bushels of corn in 2017, compared to slightly more than 2.7 billion bushels in 2016, and 2.5 billion bushels in 2015.

Kent Thiesse contributed to this story.


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