Records are meant to be broken. It only took 12 months for that to occur with corn yields.
After raising all-time highs for corn yields in 2016, no-tillers came back with a record-smashing performance in 2017.
The 497 No-Till Farmer readers who completed the 10th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study reported no-till corn yields of 181.3 bushels per acre, which was 10.5 bushels, or 6.1%, better than the 170.8-bushel mark set in 2016. (See Table 1 for the 10-year history of corn yields by tillage system.)
Whether strip-tilled, vertical-tilled or minimum-tilled corn, average yields were record-setters in 2017. Strip-tilled corn topped the list with average yields of 203 bushels per acre, followed by minimum-till at 188.6 and vertical-till at 186.6.
Previous highs in each of those tillage categories were 197 (2016), 181 (2015) and 186 (2016) bushels per acre, respectively.
No-tillers in the Western Corn Belt led the way with average corn yields of 197 bushels per acre, while the Eastern Corn Belt and Appalachian regions each averaged 185.
The Northeast matched the benchmark study national average of 181 bushels per acre, and that was a big boost to no-tillers in that region.
In 2016, Northeastern no-tillers only averaged 151 bushels per acre, meaning they improved corn yields in 12 months by 30 bushels, or 19.9%.
No-till corn growers in the Northern Plains had the opposite experience, however, as average yields of 139 bushels per acre were 21 bushels, or 13.1%, less than 2016 yields.