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US is Rarely #1 in Yields

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June 7th, 2012

I think it is fairly common for us as Americans to assume that our agricultural production leads the world in yields.  But when you review the average yields by variety, in many cases, the US does not even make the top 5 for yield.  Part of this may be due to smaller countries using irrigation on all of their crops for that particular variety; but having visited Europe a few times and viewing their agricultural production, I can vouch that many of these farmers “baby” their crops more than we do.  Many of them make a living off of a 100 acres instead of a 1,000, so they have to maximize their yields.

For example, I pulled the top 5 yielding countries for various crops as follows:

Corn

  1. Jordan                 318 bushels per acre
  2. Chile                      191 bushels per acre
  3. New Zealand      175 bushels per acre
  4. US                           159 bushels per acre
  5. Canada                  143 bushels per acre

Soybeans

  1. Argentina           43 bushels per acre
  2. US                          41 bushels per acre
  3. Brazil                    40 bushels per acre
  4. Canada                 37 bushels per acre
  5. China                    27 bushels per acre

Wheat

  1. New Zealand         119 bushels per acre
  2. Zambia                    104 bushels per acre
  3. Switzerland             89 bushels per acre
  4. Chile                           88 bushels per acre
  5. Egypt                          87 bushels per acre

As you can see, for corn we are number 4, soybeans number 2 and for wheat, we don’t make the top 5. 

Many of these countries can learn from our production methods, but I think we can learn from theirs too.

Paul Neiffer

Paul Neiffer

Paul Neiffer is a certified public accountant and business advisor specializing in income taxation, accounting services, and succession planning for farmers and agribusiness processors. Paul is a partner with CliftonLarsonAllen in Yakima, Washington, as well as a regular speaker at national conferences and contributor at agweb.com. Raised on a farm in central Washington, he has been immersed in the ag industry his entire life, including the last 30 years professionally. In fact, Paul drives combine each summer for his cousins and that is what he considers a vacation.

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1 Comment

  • June 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Joshua Stamper

    Paul,
    Really interesting post. Something that jumped out at me was the need to keep in mind the spatial context of these numbers. Lets take Chile and Jordan corn production for example.
    According to the 2003 FAO data Jordan only rasied 430 hectares (1,062 acres). Chile has a great irrigated growing environment, but you have to keep scale in mind. According to the FAO Chile produces about 1.19 million metric tons of corn (about 47.6 million bushels). In the US we have COUNTIES that produce almost that much corn (Yuma county, CO produces about 42 million bushels per year).
    Thanks for the article and the food for thought.

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