Missouri corn farmers are on pace to harvest 419 million bushels according to a recent prediction from the USDA's Crop Production report. Rebounding from last year's drought, if met, this will be the fourth largest corn crop in the state's history.
Spring rains delayed planting and pushed back the growing season, but Missouri farmers have harvested 82 percent of the corn crop as of Nov. 3. This is on par with the 5-year average. Statewide growers are expected to average 133 bushels per acre, up from 75 bushels per acre a year ago.
"Thanks to some long hours and today's technology, farmers are able to make rapid progress when Mother Nature opens the window of opportunity," said Gary Marshall, Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO. "We are producing 172 million more bushels than last year on 250,000 fewer acres. Missouri corn growers have done a tremendous job of recovering first from a flood, then a drought to provide a quality product for customers."
Larger equipment armed with technology like GPS optimizes efficiency, aiding growers with planting and harvest and providing pinpoint accuracy when it comes to nutrient application.
Advancements in seed technology and production practices also play a part in ensuring plants are suited to the soil and environment in which they're grown.
These innovative conservation methods have allowed America's corn farmers to cut soil erosion by 67 percent, the land required to grow a bushel of corn has declined by 30 percent and farmers are producing 87 percent more corn per ounce of fertilizer.
"Farming is an inherently risky business - there is no such thing as a stable commodities market," said MCGA President Jim Stuever, of Dexter, Mo. "Fertilizer is expensive. Seed is expensive. And the price of corn today is under the cost of production. We are doing everything we can to make sure we have the right tools to make the most of our inputs. The weather cooperated this year and now our focus shifts to strengthening our markets."
Livestock is the number one market for Missouri corn, utilizing 42 percent of the 2012 crop. Approximately 40 percent is distilled into ethanol, with 8 percent returning to the supply chain as distillers grains, a high protein co-product of ethanol production used as livestock feed.
Despite last year's drought, Missouri corn farmers still exported 15 percent of the crop out of state.