Corn History

Originally written February 1, 2006 | Last updated February 23, 2014

Taxonomy

Origin, Adaptation, and Types of Corn National Corn Handbook - 10

Hybrid Corn-History, Development and Selection Considerations National Corn Handbook - 29

Genus and species: Zea mays L., also called maize

Relatives of corn

  1. Teosinte-closest relative; annual and perennial forms; profuse tillering
  2. Tripsacum - all species are perennial; commonly called gama grass
  3. Job's Tears - annual from Asia; an ornamental in US

Corn is native to the Americas

History

Early centers of corn culture

  1. Aztecs in Mexican plateau
  2. Mayas in Yucatan-Guatemala region
  3. Incas in Peru
  4. Indians were first successful corn breeders. Developed varieties of all types except POD and WAXY. Indians at Jamestown showed colonists how to grow corn.

Corn was introduced into Europe from the Americas and spread worldwide

Historical Trend for Corn Yield in Wisconsin

World Corn Acreage and Production

Related websites

  1. World of Corn
  2. Crop Year Estimates

 

World Corn Production and Consumption during 1999.
  Production Consumption
Rank

Country

million bushels

Country

million bushels
1. U.S. 9437 U.S. 7550
2. China 5039 China 4722
3. European Union 1457 European Union 1525
4. Brazil 1260 Brazil 1317
5. Mexico 748 Mexico 921
  Total 23542 Total 23499

Source: USDA-FAS World Markets and Trade January 23, 2000

 

World Corn Exports and Imports during 1999.
  Exports Imports
Rank

Country

million bushels

Country

million bushels
1. U.S. 1929 Japan 640
2. Argentina 335 South Korea 335
3. China 197 Mexico 197
4. Hungary 67 Taiwan 177
5. South Africa 43 Egypt 146
  Total 2711 Total 2711
Source: USDA-FAS World Markets and Trade January 23, 2000.

The U.S. grows about 20% of world’s acreage each year, but produces 45-50% of world’s corn production each year

U.S. Corn Acreage, Yield and Production

Corn Belt States = 75-80% of U.S. acreage and production due to:

  1. Adequate moisture
  2. Favorable temp’s
  3. Fertile soils
  4. Sufficiently long growing season

Corn for silage: WI, MN, and SD are leading states

U.S. Corn Area, Yield, Production, Price per Unit, and Value of Production.

Year 
Planted acres Harvested acres Yield  Production  Price per Unit  Value of production 
thousand  thousand  bushel  1000 bushels  dols / bu  1000 dollars 
1990 74166 66952 118.5 7934028 2.28 18191643
1991 75957 68822 108.6 7474765 2.37 17860947
1992 79311 72077 131.5 9476698 2.07 19723258
1993 73239 62933 100.7 6337730 2.50 16035515
1994 78921 72514 138.6 10050520 2.26 22874154
1995 71479 65210 113.5 7400051 3.24 24202234
1996 79229 72644 127.1 9232557 2.71 25149013
1997 79537 72671 126.7 9206832 2.43 22351507
1998 80165 72589 134.4 9758685 1.94 18922084
1999 77431 70537 133.8 9437337 1.90 17949707
2000 77881          

 

Rank of States in U.S. for Corn Grown for Grain Production during 1999.
Rank State Area planted Area Harvested Yield Production
    1000 acres 1000 acres bu/A 1000 bushels
1. IA 12100 11800 149 1758200
2. IL 10800 10650 140 1491000
3. NE 8600 8300 139 1153700
4. MN 7100 6600 150 990000
5. IN 5900 5670 132 748440
6. KS 3150 2980 141 420180
7. WI 3600 2850 143 407550
8. OH 3458 3200 126 403200
9. SD 3600 3250 113 367250
10. MI 2200 1950 130 253500
  U.S. 77431 70537 133.8 9437337
IA and IL account for 10 to 14 million acres per year ~ 1/3 of U.S. acreage and 40% of U.S. production.

Source: USDA-NASS

Wisconsin Corn Acreage, Yield and Production

Wisconsin Annual Acreage, Yield and Production of Corn Grown for Grain.
Year Area Planted Area Harvested Yield Production
  1000 acres 1000 acres bu/A 1000 bushels
1990 3700 3000 118 354000
1991 3800 3200 119 380800
1992 3900 2950 104 306800
1993 3400 2350 92 216200
1994 3750 3100 141 437100
1995 3650 3050 114 347700
1996 3900 3000 111 333000
1997 3850 3050 132 402600
1998 3700 2950 137 404150
1999 3600 2850 143 407550
Source: USDA-NASS

 

Wisconsin Top 5 Counties for Corn Grain Production during 1999.
Rank County Area Planted Area Harvested Yield Production
    acres acres bu/A bushels
1. Dane 199600 170100 152 25917000
2. Rock 149100 139400 143 19975000
3. Grant 149500 130700 149 19505000
4. Dodge 144400 114500 149 17101000
5. Columbia 119500 107600 153 16445000
Source: USDA-NASS

Key Decisions for Increased Yield & Profitability

Establish realistic and efficient production goals

Hybrid selection:

  1. Yield
  2. Maturity
  3. Pest resistance
  4. Lodging resistance
  5. Specialty genes (management v. markets)
  6. Quality

Rotation

Soil test and add fertilizer, if needed

Minimize the number of field operations

Plant treated quality seed

Plant arrangement: 

  1. Early planting date (time)
  2. Use narrow rows
  3. Optimize seeding rate
  4. Correct seeding depth

Control pests: 

  1. weeds
  2. insects
  3. diseases

Harvest carefully

Relative Impact (% change) of Management Decisions on Corn Grain Yield in WI

  • Hybrid: Top to bottom ranking = 0 to 30% yield change - Presence or absence of genetic traits = 0 to 100% yield change
  • Rotation: Continuous v. Rotation = 5 to 30% yield change
  • Soil Fertility: 160 v. 0 lb N/A = 20 to 50% yield change
  • Date of Planting: May 1 to June 1 = 0 to 30% yield change - Also need to add moisture penalty
  • Plant density: 32,000 to 15,000 plants/A = 0 to 22% yield change
  • Row spacing: 30-inches to 15-inches = 0 to 5% yield change
  • Pest control: Good v. Bad = 0 to 100% yield change
  • Cultivation: Yes v. No = 0 to 10% yield change
  • Harvest timing: Oct. 15 to Dec. 1 = 0 to 20% yield change

Proven Management Practices and Practical Tips When Prices are Down

List of important corn agronomy publications:

  1. Modern Corn and Soybean Production

  2. Bennett, W. F. Nutrient deficiencies and toxicities in crop plants. St. Paul, MN: American Phytopathological Society Press; 1993.

  3. Carter, Paul R.; Doll, J. D.; Kelling, K. A.; Klemme, R. M., and Schulte, E. E. National Corn Handbook - Wisconsin edition. Nielsen, R., NCH project leader. Purdue University; 1987.

  4. Duvick, D. N. Plant breeding, an evolutionary concept. Crop Science. 1996; 36(3):539-548.

  5. Olson, R. A. and Frey, K. J., editors. Nutritional quality of cereal grains. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy; 1987; 28510 pages. ISBN: 0-89118-092-3.

  6. Ritchie, S. W.; Hanway, J. J., and Benson, G. O. How a corn plant develops. Iowa State University CES. 1993; 21.

  7. Roth, G.; Undersander, D.; Allen, M.; Ford, S.; Harrison, J.; Hunt, C.; Lauer, J.; Muck, R., and S. Soderlund. Corn silage production, management, and feeding. American Society of Agronomy. 1995; 21; ISSN: 0-89118-124-5.

  8. Shurtleff, M. C. Compendium of corn diseases. Second ed. St. Paul, MN: American Phytopathological Society Press; 1992; p. 105. ISBN: 0-89054-029-2.

  9. Sprauge, G. F. and Dudley, J. W., editors. Corn and Corn Improvement. Third ed. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy; 1988; 18986 pages. ISBN: 0-89118-099-0.


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