U.S., Global Crop Production Sets New Records in 2014

Published September 25, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast record U.S. corn yields this year as warmer temperatures, longer growing seasons, more precipitation, and higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have enhanced crop output.

In its August crop report, the USDA projected U.S. corn production would surpass 14 billion bushels and shatter 2013’s record corn crop. Ideal climate conditions, and especially abundant rainfall, are fueling the record crop, USDA reported.

“Excellent growing conditions in most corn areas support a record forecast production of 14,032 million bushels, breaking the 14-billion-bushel barrier for the first time,” USDA observed in its August Feed Outlook.

The forecast for a new record corn crop caught many analysts by surprise. The 2013 U.S. corn crop of 13.9 billion bushels was nearly a full billion bushels above the prior record, leading some analysts to expect a decline this year from the remarkable 2013 crop. Instead, farmers were treated to more ideal crop conditions and yet greater corn production.

Quality As Well As Quantity

USDA noted this year’s crop is also noteworthy for its excellent quality.

“Seventy-three percent of the crop is rated good to excellent, compared with 64 percent last year at this time,” USDA reported.

“We’re going to drown in corn this year,” Illinois farmer Jeff Brown told the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re going to see corn in piles all over the Midwest, and it’s going to take forever to eat through it all, commodities investor Jamey Kohake told the Journal.

The record corn crop will lower costs for corn-related products, such as cattle feed, ethanol, and a variety of consumer food products.

Global corn output also posted strong gains, likewise due largely to favorable climate conditions.

“Global coarse grain supplies for 2014/15 are projected 4.9 million tons higher, mostly expecting larger expected corn crops in the United States and EU and increased barley production for FSU-12 [Former Soviet Union states],” USDA reported in its August World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

“EU corn production is raised 1.4 million tons after abundant rainfall and favorable temperatures during July,” USDA noted.

Wheat, Rice, Soybean Records

Ideal climate conditions spurred record production for other crops as well.

USDA forecast a strong U.S. wheat crop and record global wheat production.

In the United States, “After a delay in planting, HRS [hard red spring] wheat had had very good growing conditions and yields are forecast well above average,” USDA reported. “Feed and residual use for all wheat in 2014/15 is raised 10 million bushes to 155 million due to the larger supplies. All wheat exports for 2014/15 are increased to 25 million bushels because of the large HRW [hard red winter] crop.”

Globally, the news was even better.

“A record-high global wheat crop is projected this month with large increases in FSU-12 and China,” USDA reported.

The global rice crop is also setting records this year, completing an impressive tally for the Big Three staple crops—corn, wheat, and rice.

“Global rice production for 2014/15 is forecast at 477.3 million tons (milled basis), down 2.1 million tons from last month’s forecast but still the largest crop on record,” USDA observed.

USDA also expects the increasingly important soybean crop to set new records this year.

Global Warming Enhancing Production

“There are many factors involved with increasing crop production, and favorable climate is one of the most important,” said Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“Warmer temperatures extend growing seasons and cut down on damaging frost events,” said Lehr. “As our planet modestly warms, we are also seeing a long-term increase in precipitation and soil moisture, particularly during the key summer months. Add in the strong fertilizing effects of higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and we have a promising recipe for even stronger crop production in future decades”

He added, “Whenever the United Nations and global warming alarmists claim global warming is reducing crop production, they never cite real-world crop statistics. Their alarmist claims are solely dependent on computer models that get disproven more emphatically with each successive year’s crop production.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.