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Low-fat and nonfat ice cream production is heating up the market

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Production of ice cream in the United States totaled 1.3 billion gallons in 2023. While most frozen dairy product output is regular ice cream, consumer demand for lower-fat and lower-sugar options has increased production share and volume of low-fat and nonfat varieties over time. Average annual production of regular ice cream decreased after peaking in 2002 then increased again in 2019–23, while production of low-fat and nonfat ice cream increased during 2019–23 in part because of elevated ice cream demand during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In 2019–23, low-fat and nonfat ice cream production accounted for more than 35 percent of the total volume of ice cream churned in the United States, compared with 29 percent in 1999–2003. Production of frozen dairy treats such as sherbet and frozen yogurt remains relatively low by comparison. In aggregate, production of ice cream and other frozen dairy products have trended lower, declining from 1.5 billion gallons annually in 1999–2003 to 1.4 billion gallons in 2019–23. This decrease is in line with reduced deliveries of caloric sweeteners (an indicator of consumption of refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, among others) which peaked in 1999, reflecting shifting consumer preferences. This chart is drawn from Dairy Data and Sugar and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables, published by USDA, Economic Research Service.

2022 Census of Agriculture: Vegetable acreage destined for processing varies by crop

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

In the United States, the share of harvested acres dedicated to vegetables intended for sale in the processing market varies widely by crop. Some vegetables lend themselves readily to processing, such as tomatoes for sauces and canning. Others are largely destined for the fresh market and have only a small percentage processed, such as broccoli. Using data from the 2022 Census of Agriculture, the share of harvested acres for processing is estimated to range from around 90 percent for green peas and horseradish to less than 5 percent for cauliflower and broccoli. More than half of harvested acres for potatoes (56 percent) and sweet corn (55 percent)—the top two vegetables by acres harvested—was devoted to processing production. Processing accounted for 39 percent of total melon, vegetable, potato, and sweet potato harvested area in 2022 (excluding mushrooms and pulse crops), down from 44 percent at the 2012 census. The greatest total number of harvested acres devoted to processing was for potatoes (600,169 acres), followed by sweet corn (258,781 acres) and tomatoes (248,318 acres). The number of acres of vegetables, potatoes, and melons harvested by U.S. growers has decreased since the 2007 census. With fresh-market acreage relatively flat, the declines have been concentrated in processing acreage. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Vegetables and Pulses Outlook Report released April 2024.

Growth in greenhouses: Controlled environment agriculture production, operations on the rise

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

From 2009 to 2019, controlled environment agriculture (CEA), also referred to as “protected agriculture” or “protected culture,” saw significant growth in both the number of operations and production of fresh produce in the United States. CEA systems grant producers control of factors such as temperature, wind, lighting, and/or precipitation. These systems help to increase production while limiting factors that could inhibit growth, such as adverse weather conditions and common pests. In the United States, CEA operations—which include greenhouses, vertical agriculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, and other controlled production methods—increased by more than 100 percent from 1,476 operations in 2009 to 2,994 in 2019. Production volumes increased by 56 percent during the same time to 7.86 million hundredweight. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the crops grown in CEA systems in 2009 and 2019 were tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers, with hydroponic systems being the most common method of cultivation. Updated data from the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Census of Horticultural Specialties are expected in December 2024. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report Trends, Insights, and Future Prospects for Production in Controlled Environment Agriculture and Agrivoltaics Systems, January 2024.

Soybean seeding rates decline as row widths increase over time

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Changes in technology and higher seed costs have shifted the way farmers plant soybeans in the United States. Between 1997 and 2018, soybean seeding rates—the number of seeds planted per acre—declined by 22 percent on U.S. farms. In 1997, farmers planted an average of more than 200,000 soybean seeds per acre. The seeding rate fell to about 192,000 in 2002, then to 175,000 in 2006, 165,000 in 2012, and finally to 157,000 in 2018. The decline in seeding rates was accompanied by an increase in row widths, or the distance between planting rows. From 1997 to 2002, the average U.S. soybean row width declined from 17 inches to 16 inches. Average row widths subsequently increased to 18 inches in 2006 and to 20 inches in 2012. The average row width remained at about 20 inches in 2018. In addition to fewer rows being planted per acre in recent years, other factors are linked with the decline in soybean seeding rates, such as planting method. The two most commonly used planting methods for soybeans are drilling and planting in rows using conventional planters. Drills tend to plant seeds closer together and in narrower rows than conventional planters and are thus associated with higher seeding rates. Over time, a higher share of U.S. soybean acres has been planted using conventional planters than drilling. In addition, seed technologies have changed over time; for instance, the planting of genetically engineered (GE) seed became more common during this period. Finally, the cost of seed on a per acre basis has increased, creating incentives for farmers to plant fewer seeds. Researchers in a 2023 USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) study found that as soybean production practices changed, yields also rose. From 2002 to 2018, U.S. soybean yields increased by 30 percent. This chart first appeared in the ERS Oil Crops Outlook: May 2024.

Renewable diesel production surpasses biodiesel

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, a program that originated in the mid-2000s, mandates that a specific volume of certain biofuels be used each year in transportation fuel. One category of biofuels included in this mandate is biomass-based diesel. For many years, this portion of the biofuels mandate was filled by biodiesel, which is produced using fats such as soybean oil, corn oil, yellow grease, or tallow and must be blended with traditional diesel. Production of biodiesel grew steadily beginning in the early 2000s to a peak of 1.8 billion gallons during the 2018/19 marketing year for soybean oil (October–September) but has declined slightly to 1.7 billion gallons in 2022/23. Renewable diesel has displaced biodiesel’s share of the market. Renewable diesel can be produced from similar fats as biodiesel, but unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel is a “drop in” biofuel, meaning it does not need to be blended with traditional diesel. Production of renewable diesel has grown from 40 million gallons in the 2010/11 marketing year to 2.3 billion gallons in 2022/23, surpassing biodiesel production for the first time. Combined, biodiesel and renewable diesel pushed total biomass-based diesel production to an all-time high in 2022/23. As this portion of the biofuels sector has mostly expanded since 2001/02, an increasing share of soybean oil produced in the United States is now used for biofuel, growing from less than 1 percent in 2001/02 to 46 percent in 2022/23. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service data product, U.S. Bioenergy Statistics.

Brazil’s lower production and marketing costs challenge U.S. competitiveness in the global soybean market

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The United States and Brazil compete to satisfy the global demand for soybeans. Soybean exports contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year even as Brazil's exports have gradually eroded the U.S. share of the global soybean market. Researchers with USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) compared factors affecting the two countries’ competitiveness, including costs of both production and marketing. They determined that, on average, production costs per acre for soybeans in Brazil were 22.5 percent lower than U.S. costs from 2010/11–2021/22. Lower capital and land costs accounted for most of this difference. Brazil’s farmers largely hire out services to provide equipment and labor for field operations, whereas U.S. farmers tend to own their machinery. Land costs were also higher in the United States, where one crop is typically harvested per marketing year. Brazil’s abundant land resources and its capacity to grow two crops per year increase both the output and revenue generated per unit of land. On aggregate, U.S. costs to produce an acre of soybeans increased 2.6 percent annually from 2010/11–2021/22, while Brazil’s costs increased 0.5 percent, not adjusting for inflation. Factors driving the increase in U.S. costs per acre were higher fertilizer, pesticide, machinery, repair, and land costs. In Brazil, rising fertilizer and pesticide costs represented the bulk of the increase. In both countries, transportation of soybeans to ports adds to the cost of soybeans paid by overseas buyers. However, Brazil’s investments in overland transportation infrastructure have reduced the relative marketing cost for exporting soybeans. Average inland transport costs per metric ton in 2017/18–2021/22 in Brazil decreased by 21.4 percent compared with 2008/09–2012/13. More information can be found in the ERS report Soybean Production, Marketing Costs, and Export Competitiveness in Brazil and the United States, December 2023.

Natural disasters, disease cut Florida orange production an estimated 92 percent since 2003/04

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Florida’s citrus industry has long been susceptible to freezes, hurricanes, and disease. A series of devastating freezes in the 1970s and 1980s caused production to shift to more southern regions of the State. Then after near-record output in the 2003/04 season, subsequent events decreased Florida’s orange output at an average rate of 6 percent a year. Between 2004 and 2005, 4 hurricanes reduced the size of the orange crop and further spread citrus canker, a bacterial disease damaging to tree health and fruit quality, to previously unaffected areas. The Florida citrus industry faced an additional challenge in 2005, when citrus greening disease, a bacterial disease deadly to citrus trees, was first detected in its commercial groves. Citrus greening disease leads to premature fruit drop, unripe fruit, and eventual tree death. With no known cure, citrus growers use a variety of management strategies to protect young trees, increase tree immune response, sustain grove health, and improve fruit marketability. While these management strategies can partially offset yield losses, they increase the costs of production. Hurricanes in 2017 and 2022 dealt further damage to Florida’s citrus industry. Since 2003/04, bearing acreage of Florida’s orange trees has declined at an average rate of 3 percent per year. In April 2024, USDA forecast Florida’s orange 2023/24 production at 846,000 tons, 19 percent higher than the previous year but the second-lowest harvest in nearly 90 years. This chart updates information in the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, published in March 2023.

California’s olive processing industry shifts from canning to crushing

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The turn of the century marked a shift in California’s olive industry. Historically, the State’s olive industry—which accounts for about 84 percent of olive acreage in the United States—was synonymous with canned olive production. Between 1980 and 2000, about 90 percent of California’s production was used for canned olives, most of which were of the black-ripe variety. California black-ripe olives are harvested green, before full maturity, and turn black from oxidation during processing. These shiny black-ripe olives are commonly sold as whole pitted or sliced canned products at retail or food service, where they often are used as pizza or salad toppings. Since the mid-2000s, the share of California’s olive production used to make olive oil has grown rapidly, from 10 percent in 2005 to more than 75 percent in 2022. This shift has been driven by increases in labor costs and import competition, as well as technological advancements that have made harvesting new olive oil-type cultivars comparatively quicker and less expensive. California olive oil production rose from 2 million pounds in 2006 to an average of 21 million pounds in 2021–23. Despite this increase in U.S. olive oil production, imports still supply more than 98 percent of the domestic consumption. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released March 2024.

2022 Census of Agriculture: Fewer U.S. farms are growing wheat

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

The number of farms producing wheat for grain declined substantially from 2002 to 2022, according to new data from USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2022 Census of Agriculture. In 2022, the number of U.S. farms reporting wheat production was 97,014, a 43-percent decrease compared with the 2002 census, when 169,528 farms reported wheat production. The reduction in the number of farms producing wheat was spread across all classes of wheat. The number of farms producing winter wheat—84 percent of U.S. wheat farms in 2022—dropped by nearly 60,000, or 42 percent, between the 2002 and 2022 censuses. Farms producing durum wheat decreased by the largest percentage, down 59 percent from 2002. The number of farms growing spring wheat (other than durum) declined 43 percent from 2002 to 2022. During the same time period, total volume of U.S. wheat produced trended down slightly, largely because of less acreage being harvested. As the profitability of other crops rises, wheat is increasingly planted in rotation with more profitable corn or soybean crops. Among major wheat-producing States, Kansas, which accounts for 15 percent of all U.S. wheat farms, saw a reduction of 9,716 farms—a 40-percent decrease from 2002 to 2022. Texas and Oklahoma reported decreases of 54 and 47 percent, respectively, between 2002 and 2022. Together, these 3 States harvested nearly 32 of percent of the volume of winter wheat produced in 2022, according to data reported by NASS in the Small Grains Annual report. For more details on the 2022 Census of Agriculture, see the NASS Census of Agriculture website. Information on trends in the wheat production sector can be found in the special article, “U.S. Census of Agriculture: Highlighting Changing Trends in Wheat Farming” in USDA, Economic Research Service’s March 2024 Wheat Outlook.

Fertilizer share of expected corn production expenses drops back after 2021–22 spike

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Fertilizer is one of several inputs corn growers buy in the months before April and May, when most U.S. corn acres are planted. Historically, fertilizer is typically the largest variable expense associated with corn production. Every May, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) reports production costs, including fertilizer, for corn and other major commodities in the Commodity Costs and Returns data product. Although fertilizer costs have varied over time, the average cost of fertilizer per acre from 2006 to 2021 was around $125, not adjusting for inflation. Costs jumped to an average of $225.78 per acre in 2022, and then fell to an estimated $186.73 in 2023. This represents an 89-percent increase from 2021 to 2022 followed by a decrease of 17 percent from 2022 to 2023. In addition to fertilizer expenses, other costs of production reported in the data include operating costs, such as seed, fuel, and chemicals, as well as allocated overhead costs, such as labor, capital recovery of machinery, and the opportunity cost of land—a category that reflects rent or income that might have been earned from renting out the land when the land is owned. Fertilizer costs accounted for about 22 percent of total corn production costs per acre from 2006 to 2016, then fell to historical lows averaging around 17 percent from 2017 to 2021. In 2022, price spikes resulted in fertilizer costs jumping to about 24 percent of total costs. While elevated, fertilizer expenses as a share of total costs remained lower in 2022 compared with 2008, when they were 26 percent of total costs. From 2022 to 2023, total corn production costs remained elevated compared with 2021 and before, even as fertilizer costs declined. Iowa prices published by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for the most commonly used fertilizers anhydrous ammonia, urea, and liquid nitrogen (32 percent) show decreases from 2023 to 2024, with slight upticks in the second reporting period of February. Cost of production data for 2023 is set to be released on May 1, 2024. This chart is drawn from the ERS Commodity Costs and Returns data product.

U.S. sugar exports to Mexico rise to levels seen during NAFTA years

Thursday, February 29, 2024

U.S. sugar exports for fiscal year 2024 are forecast to be the largest in 6 years, rising to an estimated 160,000 short tons, raw value (STRV) in the February 2024 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. About 88 percent of that volume is expected to go to Mexico, where sugar production has fallen to a 15-year low. This would put U.S. sugar exports to Mexico on par with those during 2008–13, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was active. Under NAFTA, Mexico could import U.S. sugar without tariffs or quotas, and U.S. exports averaged 167,000 STRV while the trade agreement was in effect. At the time, most of the sugar was imported by Mexico-based manufacturers participating in a promotion program commonly known as IMMEX. The program provided tax incentives if the companies used imported U.S. sugar in food products that would be re-exported within a certain amount of time. In 2014, in response to U.S. investigations into subsidies affecting sugar imports from Mexico, the two countries reached agreements that suspended the investigations and restricted the price and quantity of Mexico’s sugar exports to the United States. Mexico then declared that sugar imported from the United States would no longer qualify for duty-free treatment under IMMEX if that sugar was the beneficiary of the U.S. version of a re-export program. After that, U.S. sugar exports to Mexico fell to below 50,000 STRV, on average, each fiscal year. In the last 2 years, however, the United States increased its sugar exports to Mexico as U.S. domestic beet and cane sugar production rose and Mexico experienced back-to-back years of low production related to drought and reduced fertilizer use. This chart is based on information in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook: February 2024.

Red wine varieties topped white in California’s 2022 grape crush

Monday, February 5, 2024

Red or white wine? Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of grapes crushed in 2022 in California, the top wine grape-producing State. California growers raise more than 100 different varieties of wine grapes, according to the annual California Grape Crush Report. In 2022, Cabernet Sauvignon, a red varietal, accounted for California’s largest share of grapes crushed at 15 percent. White varietal, Chardonnay, came in second among wine grape varieties at 14 percent and was the top white wine variety by volume crushed. Other table grape and raisin-type grape varieties collectively represented 5 percent of the 3.7 million tons of grapes crushed for wine, concentrate, juice, vinegar, and brandy. California producers grow about 94 percent of the total U.S. grape crop, with nearly 70 percent of the State’s grape acreage dedicated to wine-type grapes. In the past few seasons, the value of the wine grape crop, both red and white, in California exceeded $3.6 billion. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.

Demand for domestic vegetable oils boosted by rising biofuels production

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

U.S. policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions have encouraged the production of biofuels—fuels derived from crops and animal fats. The policy framework has supported expansion in the production of biomass-based diesel. Biomass-based diesel includes biodiesel and renewable diesel, which now captures the second-largest share of biofuel production, after ethanol. With vegetable oils as the main feedstock in biomass-based diesel production, demand for major vegetable oils (soybean, corn, and canola) for the 2022/23 marketing year (October-September) reached a high of 19.1 billion pounds, up nearly 4.5 billion pounds from 2021/22. Use of soybean oil accounts for more than 40 percent of total feedstocks used for biomass-based diesel production. It increased from 5 billion pounds in 2014/15 to 12.5 billion pounds in 2022/23. Corn and canola oils also are increasingly used in biofuel production, though in lesser amounts. To date, U.S. production of soybean, corn, and canola oils has not been sufficient to cover the rise in domestic use. Rising domestic demand is supported by increasing imports, which now supply more than 29 percent of domestic vegetable oil consumption. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Oil Crops Outlook, December 2023.

U.S. cotton mill use shrinks to lowest in nearly 140 years

Thursday, January 18, 2024

U.S. cotton mill use—the volume of raw cotton processed into textiles—is estimated at 1.9 million bales for the 2023/24 marketing year (August–July). If realized, cotton used by U.S. textile mills would fall to its lowest level in more than 100 years—since the 1884/85 marketing year, when approximately 1.7 million bales were used. U.S. cotton mill use has been mostly on a downward trend since the early 1940s when cotton use peaked during World War II. Soon after the end of the war, synthetic fibers were developed and began substituting for cotton. Use of synthetics in the production of textiles continued to expand and further reduced cotton mill use through the early 1980s when the downward trend was dramatically reversed. Promotion efforts and programs such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative and later the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) fostered U.S. cotton yarn and fabric production. U.S. cotton mill use rose, peaking again in the mid-1990s, before the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing began phasing out quotas on developed countries’ textile and apparel product imports. By the early 2000s, cotton mill use in several countries—particularly China—expanded to take advantage of the phased-out quotas on cotton product exports to the United States. Although U.S. raw cotton exports benefited from increased foreign mill demand, U.S. cotton mill use weakened, and the downward trend led to the near historically low 2023/24 U.S. cotton mill use projection. This information is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s December 2023 Cotton and Wool Outlook.

Large-scale family farms lead in terms of value of production for many commodities in 2022

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Large-scale family farms accounted for a majority of the value of commodity production in 2022, including cash grains and soybeans (51 percent), hogs (56 percent), cotton (65 percent), specialty crops (65 percent), and dairy (76 percent). On the other hand, small family farms accounted for 3 percent of the value of production for dairy, 4 percent for cotton, 7 percent for specialty crops, and 26 percent for beef, but they produced the majority of hay (53 percent) and 45 percent of poultry and eggs. The value of production by nonfamily farms ranged from 5 percent for both hay production and poultry and eggs production to 19 percent for specialty crop production. This chart uses data appearing in America’s Farms and Ranches at a Glance, published December 2023.

U.S. wheat imports reach 6-year high

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

U.S. wheat imports are forecast at their highest in 6 years for the 2023/24 marketing year (July–June). Consecutive years of drought in key U.S. growing regions of hard red winter wheat, an ingredient used for making bread, Asian noodles, and flour, have tapered U.S. output, elevating domestic prices. Millers have sought less expensive sources, including competitively priced wheat from the European Union (EU). U.S. imports of hard red winter wheat, mostly from the EU, for 2023/24 are at 25 million bushels, a record high, and up from 5 million bushels from 2022/23. This trade flow is atypical. U.S. wheat imports are normally driven by hard red spring and durum wheat from neighboring Canada. In 2017/18, imports from Canada of both classes of wheat were elevated because of drought-related supply issues in the United States. While U.S. imports of hard red winter wheat are elevated in 2023/24, imports of soft red winter and white wheat are relatively close to normal levels. Related to tight supplies of this hard red winter wheat in 2023/24, U.S. exports of this class of wheat are forecast at their lowest level on record. This chart is drawn from the November 2023 Wheat Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service.

U.S. apricot production trends lower

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

How do you like your apricots? Apricots, a stone fruit like peaches, plums, and nectarines, are typically either processed by canning, freezing, or drying, or sold as fresh, whole apricots. Regardless of how you like apricots, their production has been decreasing since the 1990s in response to falling U.S. consumption, especially for processed apricots. Commercial production is concentrated on the West Coast, with California representing 90 percent of apricot production in 2023. The U.S. apricot industry has experienced a long-term downward trend in bearing acreage, falling 62 percent over the past 20 years. Growing competition from imports of processed apricot products and a general increase in consumption for all fresh fruit have encouraged growers to divert more of their acreage to higher valued commodities, resulting in fewer bearing acres of apricots and shifts in use. The downward trend in production has coincided with a decrease in the share of apricots used in the processing market. During the first three seasons of this decade (2020–22), processed utilization has averaged 45 percent—down from 63 percent during the early 2010s and 89 percent in the early 1980s. This reflected both small gains in fresh market use and a marked downward trend in processing uses (particularly canned and frozen). Until the 2020s, the volume used as fresh apricots had been trending higher each decade—roughly pacing population growth. This chart first appeared in the September 2023 Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service.

Recent rice and fertilizer price surges affected U.S. rice farming profitability

Thursday, January 4, 2024

According to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), recent returns from rice farming are positive, on average. From 2012 to 2022, U.S. rice farmers received a positive net return (equal to the value of production minus costs) in all years except 2016, when rice fell to its lowest price of that decade. The total gross value of producing one acre of rice increased 23 percent over that time, ranging from a low of $863.46 in 2016 to a high of $1,439.19. This was, in part, because of strengthening rice prices. Notably, rice prices surged in recent years before reaching an all-time high in 2022. Over the 2012 to 2022 period, the total cost of producing one acre of rice increased by 36 percent. Most of the increase in cost stemmed from an increase in operating costs of 62 percent, while allocated overhead costs increased 6 percent. Surging fertilizer costs, which increased by $150.75 per acre from 2020 to 2022, largely drove the increase. By contrast, allocated overhead costs—a category that includes labor costs and the opportunity cost of land—increased by $12.09 since 2020. This chart is based on data collected from the ERS Commodity Costs and Returns data product.

Genetically engineered crops continue to dominate soybean, cotton, and corn acres planted by U.S. farmers

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Genetically engineered (GE) seeds were commercially introduced in the United States for major field crops in 1996, with adoption rates increasing rapidly in the years that followed. The two main GE trait types are herbicide-tolerant (HT) and insect-resistant (Bt). These traits can be added individually to seeds as well as combined into a single seed, called stacked seed traits. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) reports information on GE crops in the data product Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. These data show that by 2008, more than 50 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres were planted with at least one GE seed trait. Today, more than 90 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres are planted using at least one GE trait. Traits other than HT and Bt have been developed, such as resistance to viruses, fungi, and drought or enhanced protein, oil, or vitamin content. However, HT and Bt traits are the most used in U.S. crop production. While HT seeds also are widely used in alfalfa, canola, and sugar beet production, most GE acres are occupied by three major field crops: corn, cotton, and soybeans. This chart appears in the ERS topic page Biotechnology, published in October 2023.

Warming temperatures in U.S. Corn Belt expected to continue into next decade

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

According to weather data from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), temperatures in the Corn Belt, a region spanning across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have trended higher in recent years and are projected to continue to rise through the end of this century. Two measures can be used to capture how rising temperatures affect crops’ growth—growing degree days and extreme degree days. Growing degree days describe the beneficial temperatures in a day that allow a plant to grow and mature. With rising temperatures, the growing degree days for corn and soybeans increase. A crop’s exposure to added growing degree days is not necessarily harmful; after all, crops need heat and precipitation to grow. However, extreme degree days, which refer to temperatures throughout the day in excess of 30 °C (86 °F), cause heat stress that is harmful for a plant. Each decade since 1992, both growing degree days and extreme degree days have steadily increased with rising temperatures in the Corn Belt, where about 80 percent of all U.S. corn and soybeans are grown. In the decade leading to 2032, both measures are projected to continue to increase. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report, Estimating Market Implications From Corn and Soybean Yields Under Climate Change in the United States, published in October 2023.