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USDA projects record 2023 corn yield

Corn growers in the United States achieved a new record yield of 177.3 bushels per acre in 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated this past Friday. The projection was released as part of a plethora of reports covering crop production in 2023, winter wheat seedings and grain stocks, among others.

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

The 2023 corn yield estimate was a record, but “interestingly, it’s slightly below trend,” said Chris Hawthorn, Acting Chief of the USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service’s Crops Branch. The USDA estimated record high corn yields in Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina and Utah, he said. No states had record lows.

“Yields bounced back from the drought in 2022 in Oklahoma and Texas and also Tennessee,” Hawthorn said.

The record corn yield also pushed the 2023 corn production estimate to a record — 15.3 billion bushels — according to the January World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, an increase of 12.4% from the previous season.

While the corn yield estimate was higher than many analysts had expected, according to the USDA NASS, farmdoc’s Scott Irwin wrote on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, that the “increase in corn yield estimates makes more sense when you consider decreases in harvested acreage. Similar production with lower harvested acreage means higher yield.”

The harvested acreage for U.S. corn in 2023 was estimated at 86.5 million acres — a decrease of 0.6 million acres from the previous year. U.S. corn ending stocks were pegged at 2.162 billion bushels, which was on the high end of analyst expectations, according to the Agricultural Statistics Board Briefing.


For soybeans, the USDA upped its yield estimate by 0.7 bushels to 50.6 bushels per acre, which is “the fourth highest yield on record,” according to Hawthorn.

“A bump in top producer Illinois anchored the yield increase from November,” Reuters’ Karen Braun wrote on X.

“Record high yields are forecast in Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee,” Hawthorn said. “Oklahoma and Texas, again rebounded from that really bad drought in 2022, but Louisiana was experiencing that drought in 2023.”

The increase in the soybean yield estimate resulted in a small increase in production — 4.16 billion bushels — from the previous estimate, but a decrease from last season. U.S. soybean ending stocks were pegged at 280 million bushels.

Winter Wheat

The USDA this past Friday also released its annual Winter Wheat/Canola Seedings report, reporting that “winter wheat seeded area for 2024 is expected to total 34.4 million acres, down 6 percent from 2023.”

That includes 24 million acres of Hard Red Winter Wheat, 6.86 million acres of Soft Red Winter and 3.54 million acres of White Winter. The winter wheat seedings estimate was on the low side of industry expectations.

Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture

“For the most part, we are looking at acres down from the previous year (across the U.S.),” Hawthorn said at the Agricultural Statistics Board Briefing. “We do have a couple areas — Montana and South Dakota and then Missouri, Illinois and Indiana and then some of the areas on the East Coast did have increases.”

USDA estimated record lows for planted acreage in Michigan and Utah, Hawthorn said. U.S. all wheat stocks were pegged at 1.41 billion bushels, up 7.5% from last year.

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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