Corn yields hit four-year low

The 2018 corn yields in Minnesota were the lowest since 2014 and broke a string of three straight years of record corn yields. Average corn yields for 2018 in south-central and Southwest Minnesota were considerably lower than in recent years, due to excessive rainfall during the 2018 growing season, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated average county yields. County yields for all crops in Minnesota and other states are available on the NASS website.

NASS estimated the corn yield at 182 bushels per acre, which trails the previous record of 194 bushels per acre in 2017, but above 2014’s 156 bushels per acre. That number was 193 bushels per acre in 2016 and 188 bushels per acre in 2015. The 2018 average soybean yield is estimated at 50.5 bushels per acre, an increase from 47.5 bushels per acre in 2017 but below 2016’s record-setting 52 bushels per acre.

Total estimated corn production for 2018 was just over 1.36 billion bushels, lower than 2017’s 1.48 billion bushels, as well as 2016 (1.54 billion bushels) and 2015(1.43 billion bushels). Top corn crop reporting districts were:

  • West central district, at nearly 310 million bushels
  • South central district, at 262 million bushels
  • Southwest district, at nearly 249 million bushels.

Renville County produced the most corn in 2018 at 43.9 million bushels, followed by Redwood, Mower, Yellow Medicine, and Swift counties.

Only six counties had average corn yields that exceeded 200 bushels per acre, down drastically from 2017 when 28 counties exceeded that level. Top estimated average corn yield counties were:

  • Washington County at 206.6 bushels per acre
  • 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
  • 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.

Average corn yield in the south central crop reporting district was only 172.1 bushels per acre, 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 district had an average corn yield of 173.3 bushels per acre in 2018, compared to 196.2 bushels per acre in 2017. Southeast and central districts also trailed 2017 average yields by about 10 bushels per acre. The west central district had its 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 also had increased average corn yields in 2018.

Minnesota produced just over 389.3 million bushels of soybeans in 2018, up from 384.3 million bushels in 2017, and just under 2016’s 389.5 million bushels. The top five soybean producing counties were:

  • Polk County at 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
  • 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 the southwest district at 71 million bushels, south central at 70.2 million bushels, and northwest 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, the only county with an average yield above 60 bushels per acre. Trailing Waseca were:

  • Dodge County at 59.1 bushels per acre
  • Wabasha County at 59 bushels per acre
  • Mower County at 58.3 bushels per acre
  • 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.

Iowa produced just over 2.5 billion bushels of corn in 2018, compared to slightly over 2.6 billion bushels in 2017. 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.

Iowa produced nearly 565 million bushels of soybeans in 2018, compared 566.5 million bushels in 2017. Iowa had an estimated 2017 statewide average soybean yield of 57 bushels per acre, flat from 2017; however, this is well below the 2016 record of 60 bushels per acre.

South Dakota had an estimated 2018 corn yield of 160 bushels per acre, led by Brookings County with 188.2 bushels per acre. Estimated 2018 soybean yield was 46 bushels per acre, led by Minnehaha County at 54 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. Average soybean yield of 35.5 bushels per acre, led by Ransom County at 43.6 bushels per acre.  

For additional information email Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Senior Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal at  
To subscribe to BankWise for weekly Ag Lending News updates email Kristi Ploeger or call 651-789-3997. 

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