2018 Minnesota Corn Yields Lower than Recent Years


The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently released the 2018 estimated average county yields for corn, soybeans, and other crops. The 2018 corn yields in Minnesota were the lowest since 2014 and broke a string of three straight years (2015-2017) of State record corn yields. Average corn yields for 2018 in South Central and Southwest Minnesota were considerably lower than in recent years, due to the excessive rainfall during the 2018 growing season. The 2018 County yields for all crops in Minnesota, Iowa, and all other States are available on the NASS web site at:  http://www.nass.usda.gov/

NASS is estimating the 2018 corn yield in Minnesota at 182 bushels per acre, which trails the previous State record corn yields of 194 bushels per acre in 2017, 193 bushels per acre in 2016, and 188 bushels per acre in 2015, but still exceeds 156 bushel per acre yield in 2014. The 2018 average soybean yield in Minnesota is estimated at 50.5 bushels per acre, which is an increase from 47.5 bushels per acre in 2017; however, the 2018 yield is still below the State record soybean yield of 52 bushels per acre in 2016.

The Minnesota estimated total corn production for 2018 was just over 1.36 billion bushels, which is lower than the 1.48 billion bushels in 2017, 1.54 billion bushels in 2016, and 1.43 billion bushels in 2015. The twelve counties in Minnesota’s West Central crop reporting district produced nearly 310 million bushels of corn last year, followed by the South Central Minnesota district at 262 million bushels, and the Southwest district at nearly 249 million bushels. Renville County produced the most corn in 2018 at 43.9 million bushels, followed in the top five for corn production by Redwood, Mower, Yellow Medicine, and Swift counties.

Only six counties in Minnesota had 2018 average corn yields that exceeded 200 bushels per acre, based on the NASS data, following an incredible twenty-eight counties that exceeded that level in 2017. Washington County had the highest estimated average corn yield at 206.6 bushels per acre, followed in the top six counties by Swift County at 201.6 bushels per acre, Olmsted County at 201.4 bushels per acre, Winona County at 201.1 bushels per acre, Stevens County at 200.8 bushels per acre, and Dodge County at 200.1 bushels per acre. Other counties that exceeded 195 bushels per acre yield in 2018 were Big Stone, Dakota, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Pope, Traverse, Wabasha, and Waseca.

2018 average corn yield in the South Central crop reporting district was only 172.1 bushels per acre, which is nearly 19 percent lower than the 2017 average yield of 211.3 bushels per acre. Many counties in that district reported the lowest average corn yield in over two decades in 2018. The Southwest Minnesota district had an average corn yield of 173.3 bushels per acre in 2018, compared to 196.2 bushels per acre in 2017. 2018 average corn yields in the Southeast and Central districts also trailed 2017 average yields by about 10 bushels per acre. The West Central Minnesota district had highest average corn yield in 2018 at 195.3 bushels per acre, compared to 187.5 bushels per acre in 2017. The Northwest and East Central districts in Minnesota also had increased average corn yields in 2018, compared to 2017 yield levels.

Based on NASS estimates, Minnesota produced just over 389.3 million bushels of soybeans in 2018, which compared to 384.3 million bushels in 2017, and was just under the 389.5 million bushels in 2016. The top five soybean producing counties in 2018 were Polk County in Northwest Minnesota with 12.6 million bushels, Renville County at 11.1 million bushels, Redwood County at 11.0 million bushels, Lac Qui Parle County at 10.1 million bushels, and Faribault at 9.6 million bushels. Similar to corn production, the West Central district topped 2018 total soybean production at 82.3 million bushels, followed by Southwest district at 71 million bushels, the South Central district at 70.2 million bushels, and the Northwest district at 62.4 million bushels.

Given the very low average 2018 corn yields in many Southern Minnesota counties, the 2018 average soybean yields were surprisingly good in some of the same counties. Waseca County had the highest average 2018 soybean yield at 60.9 bushels per acre, which was the only county that had an average yield that exceeded 60 bushels per acre. Following Waseca County, the next highest 2018 county soybean yield estimates were Dodge County at 59.1 bushels per acre, Wabasha County at 59 bushels per acre, Mower County at 58.3 bushels per acre, and Goodhue County at 57.9 bushels per acre. Other counties with estimated average 2018 soybean yields exceeding 55 bushels per acre included Carver, Fillmore, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, Nicollet, Olmsted, Renville, Rice, Rock, Sibley, Steele, and Swift.

Based on the NASS estimates, Iowa produced just over 2.5 billion bushels of corn in 2018, compared to slightly over 2.6 billion bushels in 2017, and 2.7 billion bushels in 2016. Kossuth County, which is the largest in geographic area, lead the State with an estimated production of 53.4 million bushels, followed by Plymouth, Sioux, Crawford, and Woodbury counties, all producing over 40 million bushels in 2018. The estimated 2018 statewide average corn yield in Iowa was 196 bushels per acre, which compares to 202 bushels per acre in 2017 and the record Iowa average corn yield of 203 bushels per acre in 2016.

Average 2018 corn yields in Iowa were highly variable across the State, mainly due to some areas receiving excessive rainfall during the growing season. Twenty-five of the ninety-nine counties in Iowa had an average 2018 corn yield that exceeded 210 bushels per acre; however, twenty-three counties averaged less than 180 bushels per acre in 2018. Marshall County, in Central Iowa, lead the State with a 2018 average corn yield of 226 bushels per acre, followed by Grundy County at 225.2 bushels per acre, Delaware County at 224.8 bushels per acre, Tama County at 224.4 bushels per acre, Ida County at 222.3 bushels per acre, and Cedar County at 222.2 bushels per acre. Other counties with an estimated 2018 average corn yield exceeding 215 bushels per acre were Hardin, Jasper, Linn, Poweshiek, and Woodbury. 

Iowa produced nearly 565 million bushels of soybeans in 2018, compared 566.5 million bushels in 2017, based on the NASS production estimates. Iowa had an estimated 2017 statewide average soybean yield of 57 bushels per acre, which is the same as the 2017 State average yield; however, this is well below the 2016 record average statewide soybean yield of 60 bushels per acre. For the second year in a row, Sioux County had the highest estimated yield in 2018 at 67 bushels per acre. Other top yielding counties in 2018 were Lee County at 65.9 bushels per acre, Cherokee County at 65.5 bushels per acre, Delaware and Ida counties at 65.3 bushels per acre, and Scott County at 65.1 bushels per acre. Thirty-one counties in Iowa had average soybean yields that exceeded 60 bushels per acre in 2018.

South Dakota had an estimated 2018 corn yield of 160 bushels per acre. Brookings County had the highest average yield in the State at 188.2 bushels per acre, followed by Moody County at 187.7 bushels per acre, Minnehaha County at 185.9 bushels per acre, and Lake and Union counties at 183.8 bushels per acre. North Dakota had a 2018 average corn yield of 153 bushels per acre, led by Richland County at 187.3 bushels per acre. This was followed by Ransom County at 179.8 bushels per acre, Sargent County at 173.8 bushels per acre, Cass County at 170.8 bushels per acre, and Dickey County at 170.1 bushels per acre.

South Dakota had an estimated 2018 soybean yield of 46 bushels per acre. Top producing counties were Minnehaha County at 54 bushels per acre, Moody County at 53.9 bushels per acre, Lake County at 53.7 bushels per acre, Union County at 53.4 bushels per acre, and Turner County at 53 bushels per acre. North Dakota had a 2018 average soybean yield of 35.5 bushels per acre, led by Ransom County at 43.6 bushels per acre, followed by Sargent County at 43.5 bushels per acre, and Richland County at 41.3 bushels per acre.  


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