One of the challenges for the National Corn Growers Association in responding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations implementing the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard was dealing with its very conservative estimates of future corn yield at a time when yields are significantly increasing.
Such a low estimate of yields was a major driver in incorrect assumptions by the EPA about international indirect land use change.
An analysis performed by Ross Korves of the ProExporter Network for NCGA’s formal submission to the EPA spoke of the yields seen in NCGA’s annual National Corn Yield Contest and efforts to translate them into success for more farms.
“Most of the winners in recent years in the non-irrigated categories had yields of 250-300 bushels per acre,” Korves wrote. “The winners in the irrigated categories had yields of 300-360 bushels per acres. Soil capabilities and rainfall patterns are available to support much higher yields than the average yields of today. Technology is now being developed to achieve those higher yields on a more consistent and wide-spread basis.”
Korves’s analysis also looks at new technologies, exports, and the role of distillers grains in the overall supply and demand of corn. With increased yields, U.S. corn growers continue to meet domestic and export needs, leaving no need for land use change. He also stresses the importance of carrying these higher yields and agronomic successes to other countries.
“The quickest way to achieve higher worldwide corn production would be to increase yields on existing corn land,” he said. “The U.S., with 20 percent of the world’s corn acreage harvested for grain, has yields that are roughly twice the world average. Some of that is due to good soils, a favorable climate and well educated producers, but much of it is due to production practices, including fertilizer, pesticides and high quality seed.”