Major Crops Grown in the United States
In round numbers, U.S. farmers produce about $143 billion worth of crops and about $153 billion worth of livestock each year.
Corn: The United States is, by far, the largest producer of corn in the world, producing 32 percent of the world's corn crop in the early 2010s. Corn is grown on over 400,000 U.S. farms. The U.S. exports about 20 percent of the U.S. farmer's corn production. Corn grown for grain accounts for almost one quarter of the harvested crop acres in this country. Corn grown for silage accounts for about two percent of the total harvested cropland or about 6 million acres. The amount of land dedicated to corn silage production varies based on growing conditions. In years that produce weather unfavorable to high corn grain yields, corn can be "salvaged" by harvesting the entire plant as silage. Additionally, corn farming has become exponentially more efficient. If U.S. farmers in 1931 wanted to equivalently yield the same amount of corn as farmers in 2008, the 1931 farmers would need an additional 490 million acres!
According to the National Corn Growers Association, about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. The National Corn Growers Association also reports that each American consumes 25 pounds of corn annually. The crop is fed as ground grain, silage, high-moisture, and high-oil corn. About 12% of the U.S. corn crop ends up in foods that are either consumed directly (e.g. corn chips) or indirectly (e.g. high fructose corn syrup). Corn has a wide array of industrial uses including ethanol, a popular oxygenate in cleaner burning auto fuels. In addition many household products contain corn, including paints, candles, fireworks, drywall, sandpaper, dyes, crayons, shoe polish, antibiotics, and adhesives.
National Corn Grower's Association 2013 Report. N.p., 11 Feb. 2013. Web. <http://www.ncga.com/upload/files/documents/pdf/WOC%202013.pdf>.
U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. Corn: Trade. N.p. Web. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/corn/trade.aspx#.UWbCQ7UX-w5>.
Soybeans: Approximately 3.06 billion bushels of soybeans were harvested from 73.6 million acres of cropland in the U.S. in 2011. This acreage is roughly equivalent to that of corn grown for grain (84 million acres in 2011). Soybeans rank second, after corn, among the most-planted field crops in the U.S. Over 279,110 (2007 Census of Agriculture) farms in the U.S. produce soybeans making the U.S. the largest producer and exporter of soybeans. , accounting for over 50% of the world's soybean production and $3-4 billion in soybean and product exports in the late 2000s. Soybeans represent 50 percent of world oilseed production.
Soybeans are used to create a variety of products, the most basic of which are soybean oil, meal, and hulls. According to the United Soybean Board, soybean oil, used in both food manufacturing and frying and sautéing, is the number one edible oil in the U.S. Currently, soybean oil represents approximately 65 percent of all edible oil consumed in the United States, down from about 79 percent in 2000 due to controversy over trans-fat. Soybean oil also makes its way into products ranging from anti-corrosion agents to Soy Diesel fuel to waterproof cement. Over 30 million tons of soybean meal is consumed as livestock feed in a year. Even the hulls are used as a component of cattle feed rations.
U.S. USDA. ERS. Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Soybean Farms. N.p., Mar. 2002. Web. < http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/761260/sb974-4_1_.pdf>.
U.S. USDA. ERS. Soybeans and Oil Crops: Background. Web. Accessed 4 Apr. 2013. < http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/soybeans-oil-crops/background.aspx#.UV3SYZMX-5Q>.
U.S. USDA. ERS. Soybeans and Oil Crops: Trade. Web. Accessed 4 Apr. 2013. < http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/soybeans-oil-crops/trade.aspx#US>.
United Soybean Board. New QUALISOY Efforts Reach out to Educate Soybean Value Chain. March 2013. Web. < http://www.unitedsoybean.org/issue_entry/march/>.
Hay: Hay production in the United States exceeds 119 million tons per year. Alfalfa is the primary hay crop grown in this country. U.S. hay is produced mainly for domestic consumption although there is a growing export market. Hay can be packaged in bales or made into cubes or pellets. Hay crops also produce seeds that can be used for planting or as specialized grains.
Wheat: Over 160,810 (2007 Census of Agriculture) farms in the United States produce wheat and wheat production exceeds 2.27 billion bushels a year. The U.S. produces about 10% of the world's wheat and supplies about 25% of the world's wheat export market. About two-thirds of total U.S. wheat production comes from the Great Plains (from Texas to Montana).
Wheat is classified by time of year planted, hardness, and color (e.g. Hard Red Winter (HRW)). The characteristics of each class of wheat affect milling and baking when used in food products. Of the wheat consumed in the United States, over 70% is used for food products, about 22% is used for animal feed and residuals, and the remainder is used for seed.
Cotton: Fewer than 18,605 (2007 Census of Agriculture) farms in the United States produce cotton (2007 Census of Agriculture). Cotton is grown from coast-to-coast, but in only 17 southern states, concentrated in California, Texas, and the Southeast. According to the National Cotton Council of America, farms in those states produce over 30% of the world's cotton with annual exports of more than $7 billion. The nation's cotton farmers harvest about 15 million bales or 7.3 billion pounds of cotton each year.
Cotton is used in a number of consumer and industrial products and is also a feed and food ingredient. Most of the crop (75 percent) goes into apparel, 18 percent into home furnishings and 7 percent into industrial products each year. Cottonseed and cottonseed meal are used in feed for livestock, dairy cattle, and poultry. Cottonseed oil is also used for food products such as margarine and salad dressing.
"World of Cotton." National Cotton Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. <http://www.cotton.org/econ/world/>.
U.S. USDA. NASS. 2007 Census of Agriculture, Cotton Industry. Web. 27 Jan. 2010. <http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Online_Highlights/Fact_Sheets/Production/cotton.pdf>.
Grain sorghum: In the United States, 26,242 farms grow grain sorghum. Grain Sorghum is used primarily as an animal feed, but also is used in food products and as an industrial feedstock. Industrial products that utilize sorghum include wallboard and biodegradable packaging materials. Worldwide, over half of the sorghum grown is for human consumption.
Some farmers grow sorghum as a hedge against drought. This water-efficient crop is more drought tolerant and requires fewer inputs than corn. Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri produce most of the grain sorghum grown in this country. The U.S. exports almost half of the sorghum it produces and controls 70% to 80% of world sorghum exports.
As much as one-third of domestic sorghum production goes to produce biofuels like ethanol and its various co-products. With demand for renewable fuel sources increasing, demand for co-products like sorghum-DDG (dry distillers grain) will increase as well due to sorghum's favorable nutrition profile.
"Biofuels." Sorghum Checkoff. N.p., Apr. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. <http://sorghumcheckoff.com/sorghum-markets/biofuels/>.
U.S. USDA. ERS. Feed Grains: Yearbook Tables; Overview: Web. Accessed 10 Apr. 2013. < http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/feed-grains-database/feed-grains-yearbook-tables.aspx#26773>
Rice: Just over 6,084 (2007 Census of Agriculture)farms produce rice in the United States. Those farms are concentrated in four regions including the Arkansas Grand Prairie, the Mississippi Delta (parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana), the Gulf Coast (Texas and Southwest Louisiana), and the Sacramento Valley of California. There are three types of rice grain; long, medium, and short, and each growing region harvests the type of rice best suited for the land. U.S. rice production accounts for just under 2% of the world's total, but this country is the second leading rice exporter with 10% of the world market.
About 50 - 60% of the rice consumed in the U.S. is for direct food use; another 18% goes into processed foods, 10-12 percent goes into pet food, and most of the rest (about 10 percent) goes into beer production.
U.S. USDA. ERS. Rice: Trade. Web. Accessed 4 Apr. 2013.
This article originally appeared in the Ag 101 section on the U.S. EPA website. Click Here to view the original article.
Kevin Spurlin is the author of this article. It originally appeared on Virginia Cooperative Extension. Click Here to view Kevin's post.
High feed prices motivate dairymen to evaluate every aspect of their nutrition program including their home grown forages. Forages are typically the cornerstone of a dairy’s feeding system with corn silage as the standard by which most other forages are measured due to its consistency in combining high yield and high quality. Other common forages offer niches when compared to corn silage such as alfalfa’s superior protein content or agronomic advantages of winter small grains in cropping rotations. So where does brown midrib (BMR) brachytic forage sorghum fit in?
A warm season annual like corn, BMR brachytic forage sorghum grows in much the same seasonal window. It is more efficient than corn in water and nitrogen use, requiring less of both. Dr. Chris Teutsch of the Southern Piedmont AREC showed establishment cost for forage sorghum was almost $40/acre less for seed and $50/ acre less for fertilizer compared to corn. Additionally, it is more drought and heat tolerant than corn. Like traditional sorghums, these new varieties possess many of the same attributes including the possibility of nitrate and prussic acid poisoning, but these issues are manageable.
What makes these new BMR brachytic varieties unique? First, the BMR trait results in lower lignin content, which increases forage digestibility. Second, brachytic refers to the dwarfing trait resulting in less stalk and more leaf area. Combining greater leaf:stem ratio with less plant lignin, and adding the seedhead at harvest results in forage quality that compares quite well with corn. Dr. Teutsch observed DM digestibility of BMR forage sorghum at 74%. Data on nutritional quality is still limited, and may vary by variety.
Given BMR forage sorghum’s attractive quality traits, establishment costs, and its ability to handle hotter, drier and slightly more acidic growing conditions, these newer varieties offer two distinct opportunities for consideration in your forage program.
This article was written by Jason Banta: Assistant Professor and Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Texas A&M University
Brown mid-rib forages have been around for a long time; however, their use has greatly increased over the last 10 to 15 years due to increased breeding efforts and the greater number of varieties now available.
The brown mid-rib (BMR) trait refers to a visual characteristic seen in sorghums, sorghum x sudangrass, sudangrass, pearl millet and corn, with light to dark brown coloring.
Forages with the BMR trait are typically higher in digestibility and, thus, energy content, resulting in increased average daily gain (ADG) or milk production for livestock.
The ADG research
Although limited, results from grazing studies comparing the use of BMR forages to genetically similar non-BMR varieties are extremely encouraging.
Table 1 shows results of a grazing study conducted in 1999 and 2000 at the Texas A&M Bush Research Farm located near Amarillo, Texas.
Steers grazing the BMR sorghum x sudangrass hybrid gained 0.32 pounds per day more and also produced 37 pounds more weight gain per acre than those grazing a similar non-BMR variety.
Additional work at A&M with photoperiod-sensitive sorghum x sudangrass hybrids showed a 0.17-pound increase in ADG for steers grazing the BMR hybrid.
Research from the University of Nebraska with grain sorghum stubble has also been positive.
Steers grazing stubble with the BMR gene gained an extra 0.36 pounds per day, which resulted in 23 pounds more gain per acre over a 65-day grazing period.
Another benefit is the increased palatability observed for BMR forages. This increase results in greater utilization of plant stems and also less forage lying on the ground (litter) at the end of the grazing period.
These benefits have resulted in excellent performance of stocker steers at the Bush Research Farm. In replicated trials over a five-year period, ADG of stocker steers grazing BMR sorghum x sudangrass hybrids ranged from 2.44 to 3.04 pounds per day with an average of 2.73 pounds per day. Gain per acre in these studies averaged 364 pounds.
Which BMR should I plant?
Of the forage types with BMR traits, sudangrass, sorghum x sudangrass and pearl millet are most often used in grazing or haying operations. The decision of which of these to plant should be based on soil type, planned use and expected animal performance.
Pearl millet does not pose a risk for prussic acid and can handle more acidic soils than sudangrass and sorghum x sudangrass; however, it tends to be lower in energy content, which would result in lower animal performance.
When deciding between sudangrass and sorghum x sudangrass, make sure to consider seed cost per acre, grazing characteristics and yield potential.
Sudangrass may recover better after multiple grazing events than sorghum x sudangrass. However, if the potential for hay production is also desired, then the sorghum x sudangrass hybrids may provide a yield advantage.
Potential lodging problems and reductions in dry matter yield are concerns some have expressed with BMR forages. Many of the early BMR varieties had problems with lodging, but advances in plant breeding have eliminated almost all problems in grazing situations.
Dry matter yields can be lower for BMR varieties compared with genetically similar non-BMR varieties. However, when pounds of digestible energy per acre and the resulting gain per acre are considered, it is definitely worth giving up a little yield to increase gain or milk production per acre.
In addition to looking for a variety with the BMR trait, there are several other items that should be considered. Not all BMR varieties are created equal; some BMR varieties perform extremely well, while others may not show much improvement compared with non-BMR varieties.
This occurs because there is more than one gene that can produce the visual BMR trait as well as other genetic differences among varieties.
If possible, it is desirable to select a variety with some data behind it. However, rapid advances are being made in forage breeding programs, and as a result, tested varieties may not be available. If varieties with known performance in your region are not available, it would be wise to select more than one variety to plant on your operation.
Numerous varieties of BMR sorghum x sudangrass are available to choose from. In addition to the BMR trait, some are also photoperiod-sensitive. While these varieties excel in yield, ADG and gain per acre have actually been lower for these varieties.
Another trait found in some of the BMR sorghum x sudangrass hybrids is a brachytic dwarf trait characterized by shorter internodes, which results in a greater leaf-to-stem ratio.
Although published research is lacking on these varieties, increasing the leaf-to-stem ratio should result in improved animal performance, and the dwarf BMR varieties definitely deserve a try.
When it comes to sudangrass and pearl millet, the number of varieties available with the BMR trait is limited. To date, all commercially available varieties of BMR sudangrass come from the Cal/West Seeds program in California; these varieties have only been available since 2007.
Additionally, there appear to only be a few varieties of BMR pearl millet commercially available at this time. Two examples include BMR 209 hybrid pearl millet and PM 508/13 sold by Forage First Genetics and Desert Sun Marketing Company Inc., respectively.
Sorghum x sudangrass hybrids, sudangrass and pearl millet have the potential to produce a tremendous amount of growth resulting in high stocking rates.
Unfortunately, this growth is usually not distributed evenly over the grazing season, which can result in stocking rate challenges. Producers need to plan for this and have additional cattle available for put-and-take grazing or consider making hay with extra forage.
From a grazing management standpoint, some people find it beneficial to leave a few unplanted strips about 2 feet to 3 feet wide throughout the field. If electric fences are being utilized, it would also be beneficial to leave a few feet unplanted next to the fence.
Based on the available grazing data, silage studies and variety trials, BMR forages have definitely earned the right for consideration. So the next time you are looking to increase performance and reduce cost of gain, you might want to include a BMR forage in your operation.
Click here to view the original post on progressiveforage.com.