US 2012 corn crop cut one-fourth due to drought

Crop also most valuable, at $85 billion

The final U.S. Department of Agriculture report on the 2012 crop-growing season showed U.S. farmers harvested 10.78 billion bushels of corn, less than three-fourths of what the USDA predicted in spring 2012, due to the record-breaking drought that ruined the crops.

At the same time, demand created by the drought made the crop the most valuable ever, with prices remaining above $7 per bushel for most of summer and fall, according to the report. Overall, the crop was worth $85 billion, said Chad Hart, an agriculture economist with Iowa State University. The harvest was also still the eighth-largest in U.S. history, in spite of the drought. 

Iowa had its driest year since 1989 but was still the largest corn producer, with 1.87 billion bushels, down 20 percent from the 2011 harvest year. Minnesota was second with 1.37 billion bushels, Nebraska was third with 1.29 billion bushels and Illinois was fourth with 1.28 billion bushels. Corn production in Illinois fell 34 percent from 2011 and Nebraska’s production was down 16 percent. Minnesota, where the drought was not as severe as in other states, produced 14 percent more corn in the 2012 harvest year than in 2011.

The year-end average yield was 123.4 bushels of corn per acre, according to the USDA.