Small Grains Gain Ground

Corn remained the top crop grown by readers in 2016, but small grains started to pick up acreage, particularly in regions outside the Corn Belt.

No-tillers remained consistent in their crop acreage in 2016 as they did in 2015, with the amount of corn and soybeans slightly dipping as small grain acres increased.

Corn was still the top crop grown among readers who participated in the 9th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study, but it dropped 1 percentage point to 39% in 2016. Soybeans also dropped 1 point to 34%, while small grains rose 2 points to 16% last year. (See Figure 1.)

As for the percent of no-tillers who raised these three crops, 92% grew corn in 2016, 4 percentage points less than the 96% in 2015. The percent of readers growing soybeans also dropped about 2 points to 89%, while those growing small grains remained unchanged at 57%.

When broken out by region, small grains and soybeans seemed to pick up in the regions outside of the Corn Belt, while corn acreage fell in those areas. Here’s what changed for each region:

  • Corn picked up 3 percentage points in the Western Corn Belt last year, making up 55% of the acres in the region. Soybeans have been declining in recent years and fell another 3.5 points to 34% — 9 points from the 42% seen in 2013. No changes were seen for small grains, which held 5% of the acres.
  • The Eastern Corn Belt saw fewer drastic changes than its western counterpart. Both corn and soybeans picked up 1 point from 2015 to 47% and 46%, respectively, while small grains fell 2 points to…
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Laura allen

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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