With the 2019 growing season behind us, it’s time to look at crop production statistics for Illinois from last year. With an average yield of 54 bushels per acre and a total production of 532 million bushels of soybeans, Illinois growers overcame a challenging year to remain the leading soybean state in the nation in 2019. The prairie state planted 9.95 million acres and harvested 9.86 million. Some areas, particularly in northern Illinois, had terrible conditions during the planting window and many producers were not able to plant all the acres they intended. Thus, Illinois soybean planted acres were down 850,000 from 2018 and corn acres were down 500,000.
Across the country, soybean acres planted were down 13 million while corn acres actually expanded by more than 800,000 from 2018. Even though some areas had terrible planting conditions – and corn acres declined in those areas – other regions recovered enough that total corn planted acres rose from the previous year.
For corn, Illinois was second in total production with 10.5 million acres planted, 10.2 million harvested, an average yield of 181 bu/acre and total production of 1.85 million bushels. Many farmers decided to plant corn well into June and were pleasantly surprised with better-than-expected yields at harvest time. However, grain moisture content was frequently higher than normal, and farmers were forced to pay for drying.
NASS uses several methods to make acreage estimates. For the March and June reports, NASS relies primarily on farmer-reported data, with some assistance from satellite images in June. Later in the season, NASS additionally relies on the crop acreage data that farmers report to their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.
When NASS is forecasting yields in August through November, our system uses data from field counts and measurements, satellite images and reports from growers. At the end of the season, NASS relies solely on reports from farmers, which is the best source of information.
Now NASS is turning the corner and beginning the process of measuring the 2020 crop season. We are mailing out planting intentions surveys to a random sample of small, medium and large farms across Illinois. I encourage all of you to respond using our secure website or the postage paid envelope. Every individual report is confidential by law and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). NASS tabulates the individual reports together to tell the story of Illinois agriculture.
The Planting Intentions Survey results will be published in the Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Grain Stocks reports to be released on March 31, 2020. These and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov/Publications. For more information call the NASS Heartland Regional Field Office at 800-551-1014.
I hope that all farmers and ranchers across the country have a safe and prosperous year in 2020.