WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Despite an unusually wet spring followed by an unusually cool June, U.S. corn farmers planted even more than they did last year. U.S. farmers have planted 91.7 million acres of corn in 2019, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That’s about 3% more corn than last year, far more acres than the next largest crop, soybeans.
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in its monthly Feed Outlook report said corn farmers faced one of the most challenging planting seasons in recent memory, and while the corn did get planted, farmers planted much of it later than usual. In early July, 57% of the crop was reported to be in good or excellent condition, while last year 75% was reported good or excellent by that time. Based on the late start to the crop and the continued cool weather, the USDA is forecasting slightly lower yields than last year. At present, however, the USDA forecasts that corn supplies will be sufficient to meet demand because farmers have plenty of corn stored from last year’s crop.
The report also noted that about a third of America’s corn crop is used for feeding cattle, hogs, and poultry in the United States. Corn provides the “carbs” in animal feed, while soybeans provide the protein. It takes a couple of bushels of American corn to make corn-fed steak; by some estimates, a beef cow can eat a ton of corn if raised in a feedlot.
Just over a third of the corn crop is used to make ethanol, which serves as a renewable fuel additive to gasoline. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires that 10% of gasoline be renewable fuel, but you can find E15 (15% ethanol) or E85 (85%) ethanol in some areas, particularly in the Midwest, the ERS said.
The rest of the corn crop is used for human food, beverages, and industrial uses in the United States, or exported to other countries for food or feed use.
The United States’ biggest customers are Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and Columbia. U.S. white corn is particularly prized in Mexico and Colombia as a high-quality food ingredient, while Japan and South Korea pay a premium for high quality, USDA-inspected feed corn for poultry and beef, the ERS said.