Iowa Eclipses Canada in Grain Production, Challenges China in Soybean Production

harvesting corn in iowas
Harvesting corn in Iowa

By Lester R. Brown

The U.S. state of Iowa is an agricultural superpower, simultaneously eclipsing Canada in grain production and challenging China in soybean production. No, these are not mathematical errors.

Last year Iowa’s farmers harvested 55 million tons of grain while Canada’s farmers harvested only 45 million tons. Over the last five years, Iowa has averaged 57 million tons a year to Canada’s 49 million tons.

Graph on Grain Production in Iowa and Canada, 1960-2010

While Canada has more than 30 million acres in grain, mostly wheat, Iowa has only 13 million acres in grain, almost entirely corn. The difference in yield per acre is huge, just 1.4 tons in Canada against more than 4 tons in Iowa.

With soybeans, Iowa produced 13 million tons in 2010 while China produced 15 million tons, mirroring their average production figures over the past five years. While Iowa has less than 10 million acres in soybeans, China has 22 million acres. Yield per acre in Iowa is 1.4 tons, exactly double the 0.7 tons of China.

Graph on Soybean Production in Iowa and China, 1964-2010

The bottom line: Iowa is at the heart of the U.S. Corn Belt, a phenomenally productive piece of agricultural real estate. It enables the United States, with only 4 percent of the world’s people, to produce 40 percent of the world’s corn, the leading grain, and 35 percent of its soybeans.

One comment
  1. nelcea

    i am very excited to read all about the urban city gardens in knasas. i was excited when i happen to read about it I believe in 2009. so to see that it has grown and grown give me hope for my own all natural gardens and daycare facillity her in callifornia. i am wanting to have a day care all hands on teching the young one how important it is to grow and reciyclea be green. i will visit mor to learn more . nelcea

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