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USDA Reports Record Corn and Soybean Yields for PA

USDA Reports Record Corn and Soybean Yields for PA

By Zach Larson

With most of the state seeing good growing conditions in 2021, Pennsylvania experienced record-setting yields for corn and soybeans, well above the less-than-average results we saw in 2020.

The 2021 Pennsylvania average corn yield was 169 bushels per acre, 31 bushels higher than the 2020 average. This new state record was 5% higher than the previous record of 161 bushels set in 2017 and is well above the 10-year average of 141 (Figure 1). Pennsylvania’s 2021 average yield was lower than the 2021 US average of 177 bushels, the second highest in US history. Since the 1960’s, Pennsylvania average corn yields have increased by approximately 1.3 bushels per acre, which lags the national trend of 1.9 bushels.

Soybeans yields for 2021 were just as good, making for a new statewide record average yield of 53 bushels per acre, the first time that Pennsylvania has crossed the 50-bushel mark. Last year’s yield was 7 bushels higher than the 2020 average, and six bushels over the 10-year average. Pennsylvania’s 2021 average yield exceeded the nationwide average of 51 bushels, which was the second highest in US history.  Pennsylvania’s average soybean yield has increased by approximately 0.4 bushels per year since the 1960s, which closely follows the national trend.

PA Crop Yields from 2011-2020

Figure 1:  PA Crop Yields from 2011-2020

Our Crop Conditions Tour at the end of August observed mostly favorable conditions and suggested yields would be close to record levels. Our highest yielding corn yield estimates ranged from 216 bushels per acre in the Northern Tier to 255 bushels in the Southeast, with regional averages from 163 to 207 bushels per acre. Our observations of soybeans throughout the year looked good, with average pod counts well above 2020 numbers in most locations.

Noteworthy in the USDA report was that harvested acres for both corn and soybeans in Pennsylvania were down in 2021. Soybean harvested acreage was approximately 595,000, which was 35,000 fewer acres than 2020 but near the 10-year average of 589,000.  For corn grain 990,000 acres were harvested, slightly off the 10-year average and 2020s harvested acres. However, 2021 had the fewest acres of corn silage harvested since the 1950s, with only 300,000 acres chopped.  This is well below our 10-year average of 405,000 and nearly half of that harvested in 1999.  This may be a reflection of good yields making for fewer acres necessary to fill bags and silos in 2021, but it may also reflect the overall decline in dairy operations across the state.

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