Despite getting off to a very favorable start, U.S. growers spent the summer of 2012 battling historic drought conditions in much of the Midwest. As a result, corn and soybean production, both key U.S. crops, is significantly down in 2012, according to the Crop Production 2012 Annual Summary released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
U.S. corn growers produced 10.8 billion bushels, 13 percent below the 2011 crop. The corn yield in 2012 is estimated at 123.4 bushels per acre, down from 147.2 yield in 2011. For these growers, the spring of 2012 looked like the beginning of a banner year. With favorable conditions, farmers planted at the fastest pace in U.S. history and planted the largest acreage in the past 75 years. But historic drought conditions in most of the corn-growing states caused the corn crop conditions to decline rapidly. As of July 29, only 24 percent of the corn acreage was rated good to excellent, compared to 62 percent rated in these two categories at the same time in 2011.
Soybean production for 2012 totaled 3.01 billion bushels, down 3 percent from 2011 crop. Despite the decrease, this was still the seventh largest soybean crop on record. The U.S. yield is estimated at 39.6 bushels, which is 2.3 bushels below last year’s yield. While soybean growers in the Corn Belt faced similar struggles as the corn growers, farmers in other states saw much improved conditions from 2011 when soybean production was hampered by spring flooding.
Sorghum grain production in 2012 saw a major upturn and is estimated at 247 million bushels, up 15 percent from 2011. Sorghum average yield was 49.8 bushels per acre, up 4.8 bushel from last year. Area planted for sorghum, at 6.24 million acres, is up 14 percent from last year. Harvested area, at 4.96 million acres, is up 26 percent from 2011.