How good was the corn crop of 1994?

January 12, 1995  2(1):3-4

Joe Lauer, Corn Agronomist

The 1994 corn production year was the best on record in Wisconsin. On November 1, 1994, the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service projected corn to be harvested from 3.1 million acres with an average yield of 139 bushels per acre and total production of 430.9 million bushels. Final estimates will be released in January of 1995.

Since 1940, corn yields have increased an average of 1.8 percent per year. The previous yield record was set in 1991 when corn yielded 119 bushels per acre. The increase of 20 bushels per acre over the previous record year represents a 16.8 percent jump. Only three other times in Wisconsin's history has corn yields increased at comparable rates (Table 1). In 1949, corn yields were 55.4 bushels per acre which represented a 15.4 percent jump over the previous record year of 1948 when yields were recorded at 48 bushels per acre. In 1952, corn yield increased 15.5 percent over the previous record year of 1949. During 1966 corn yields were 88 bushels per acre, an increase of 15.8 percent over the previous record year of 1965.

Table 1. Years of record corn yield and the percent change over the previous record year.
Year Yield Increase
  bu/a percent
1870 38.0 1.3
1900 38.6 1.6
1921 39.0 1.0
1939 39.7 1.8
1940 42.0 5.8
1942 46.0 9.5
1946 46.5 1.1
1948 48.0 3.2
1949 55.4 15.4
1952 64.0 15.5
1956 68.0 6.3
1959 71.0 4.4
1961 73.0 2.8
1965 76.0 4.1
1966 88.0 15.8
1968 95.0 8.0
1971 98.0 3.2
1977 104.0 6.1
1981 108.0 3.8
1986 118.0 9.3
1991 119.0 0.8
1994 (est.) 139.0 16.8
derived for Wisconsin Agriculture Statistics Service bulletins

Will 1995 be another record year? Since 1940, there have been 23 record yielding years or ties (43 percent of the years were records). So far during the 1990's there have been 2 record yielding years and 1 tie. During the 1980's there were 2 record years and three ties; during the 1970's - 2 record years; during the 1960's - 4 record years; during the 1950's - 3 record years; and during the 1940's - 5 record years and 1 tie. A record year followed another record year or tie about 31 percent of the time. There is no reason why another record year could not take place in 1995, although it would be difficult to repeat the yield jump of 16.8 percent that was seen during 1994.


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