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Why Corn Acreage Varies From Year to Year

By Jonathan Eisenthal

As highlighted in the USDA’s annual Prospective Plantings Report, the number of acres planted to corn in Minnesota changes each year—typically a few hundred thousand above or below 8 million. So, what accounts for those changes?

There’s no one reason, farmers say, but rather a multitude of factors, such as crop and input prices and disease pressures.

In 2024, for example, Sibley County farmer Ellyn Oelfke, a member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Board of Directors, said her family decided to slightly decrease corn acres in favor of soybeans.

“Typically, we are on a 60-40 ratio of corn to soybeans, and this year we are going to be right at 50-50,” she said. “Where markets are at, it looks like a better opportunity to plant just a little more soybeans this year.”

In southern Minnesota, some farmers converted some of their corn acres to soybeans this year to keep western corn rootworm in check, according to Brandon Fast, who farms in Cottonwood County and runs a seed and chemical supply business. Fast is also a member of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council.

In the southern Red River Valley and around Otter Tail County and surrounding counties, some farmers skipped corn and soybeans on some acres altogether in favor of wheat, said University of Minnesota Extension Integrated Pest Management Specialist Bruce Potter. He said the goal there is to head off soybean cyst nematode,

Still, not all farmers are changing course. MCGA board members Rob Tate and John Swanson farm in Goodhue County in southeast Minnesota and Polk County in northwest Minnesota, respectively. They both said that, for themselves and their neighbors, there doesn’t appear to be any significant deviations from common crop rotations.

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