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Tossed Out

Corn, soybean production took hit in 2012

Farmer Eric Cress, left, shows Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the drought damage to his corn crop on his farm near Center Point, IA in July 2012. (USDAgov/Flickr)
Farmer Eric Cress, left, shows Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the drought damage to his corn crop on his farm near Center Point, IA in July 2012. (USDAgov/Flickr)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service released its end-of-year Crop Production 2012 Annual Summary Friday.

Not surprisingly, the report revealed that corn and soy production took a beating last year due to the drought that is still ravaging farms all over the Midwest.

Here are some of the report’s highlights:

  • Corn production was way down.

U.S. farmers produced 10.8 billion bushels of corn for grain in 2012, down 13 percent from 2011. That’s despite planting at the fastest pace in history the largest acreage of planted corn – 97.2 million acres – in 75 years.

Last year, Missouri farmers got 75 bushels of corn per acre, compared to 114 bushels per acre in 2011, and 123 bushels per acre in 2010. In Iowa, the yield was 137 bushels per acre in 2012, compared to 172 in 2011. Kansas farmers got 96 bushels of corn per acre in 2012, 107 in 2011 and 125 in 2010. Corn silage yields were also down.

  • Hay production took a huge hit, too.

National hay production amounted to 119.8 million tons last year, which is a 48-year low.

Hay production in Missouri – 5,254 tons – was also down last year from 7,512 tons in 2010. It was also down in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado and Kansas.  Due to the shortfall, hay theft was also on the rise in farm country because of its high costs.

  • Soybeans didn’t fare too much better.

Soybean stocks nationally totaled 197 billion bushels in 2012 and like corn stocks were down 17 percent from 2011. Soybean production was 3.01 billion bushels for 2012, down 3 percent from 2011.

In Nebraska, the average soybean yield fell 12.5 bushels from last year. Average soybean pod counts were down more than 20 percent in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The year-end report also included a weather summary, which noted that 2012 was the nation’s hottest year on record and the nation’s driest year since 1988. As a result, two-thirds of the nation was in drought by late July, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought coverage peaked on Sept. 25.

2012 was the hottest, driest year on record for Nebraska and Wyoming. Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware and Georgia also experienced near-record dryness.

Should the Midwest continue to struggle with dry weather, the nation’s key crop counts next year could look pretty similar.