Grain Bins


SD farmers prepare to meet growing demand for corn

Posted on March 31, 2011

South Dakota farmers intend to plant more acres of corn this spring than they have for 80 years.

A prospective planting report released today by the USDA’s South Dakota office shows that the state’s farmers intend to plant 5.4 million acres, an increase of 850,000 acres from last year. That would be the second largest number of corn acres in history, ranking behind only 5.5 million in 1931.

Gary Duffy, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, said high numbers were anticipated, considering current supplies, demands and market prices.

“The demand for U.S. corn has never been greater. The world wants more corn for food, feed and fuel,” Duffy said. “American farmers are fully capable of producing enough corn for all uses and markets, and South Dakotans play a key role in meeting those needs.”

Nationally, the USDA reported that farmers expect to plant 92.2 million acres of corn this year, up 5 percent from last year. That would be the second-highest corn acreage in the U.S. since 1944, ranking only behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007.

How many acres of corn that South Dakotans actually plant will be dependent, as always, on the weather, Duffy emphasized. If spring weather is favorable, the acres could exceed the forecast. But, if wet weather extends deep into planting season, the acres could drop.

“The month of April is very critical,” he said. “Mother Nature is still in charge.”

Farmers have invested for years to increase the demand for corn and develop markets. Duffy said some people who are concerned whether there’s enough corn to meet food, feed and fuel needs, don’t realize that one-third of every bushel of corn that’s used to produce ethanol becomes a byproduct that is high-quality livestock feed.

Farmers continue to increase per-acre yields through advanced technology, genetic seed improvements and modern farming techniques. Drought-tolerant hybrids allow corn to be planted in regions where that was impossible years ago.

“The Corn Belt is spreading north and west,” Duffy said.

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