Sunday, November 10, 2013


Major Crops Grown in the United States

In round numbers, U.S. farmers produce about $ 143 billion worth of crops and about $153 billion worth of livestock each year. Production data from the year 2011 for major agricultural crops grown in this country are highlighted in the following table:
Major agricultural crops produced in the United States in 2011 (excluding root crops, citrus, vegetable, etc).
CropHarvested Area 
(million acres)
Cash Receipts from Sales 
($ billion)
Corn (grain)
Sorghum (grain)
Source:U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Crop Production. March 8, 2013.
I post this in response from a great email from a long time reader pointing out that no-till may not be the answer for every application, let alone every operation.
"Slowly but surely no-till keeps creeping into more and more U.S. acres every year. It quietly grows at about 1.5% a year.
Last month, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released new stats on that growth, in part to address no-till’s potential contribution to climate-change efforts.
The adoption of less-intensive tillage practices, they claim, could sequester substantial amounts of carbon, which could lead to fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Fortunately, the numbers look promising.
The data show that approximately 35.5% of the U.S. cropland planted to eight major crops, or 88 million acres, had no-tillage operations in 2009. ERS researchers analyzed 2000-2007 data from USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). The crops – barley, corn, cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, soybeans and wheat – comprised 94% of the total planted U.S. acreage in 2009.
  • Not a big surprise, but soybean farmers had the highest percentage of planted acres with no-till (45.3% in 2006; projected at almost 50% in 2009).
  • No-till was practiced on 23.5% of corn acres in 2005 (projected at 29.5% in 2009).
  •  Cotton was no-tilled on 20.7% of planted acres in 2007 (projected at 23.7% in 2009).
Some no-tillers almost verge on being evangelists when it comes to explaining the how and why of their operations. Frankly, I love talking to those farmers who are so passionate about their no-till and conservation efforts."  I am guilty of all charges of being enthusiastic about no-till!
We even have no-till tobacco and specialty crops now.  Still, no-till is not the save-all end-all of farming, is it?  I figure if a guy can smuggle in planter parts in his luggage in a country where no-till isn't practiced, there must be something to it?



  1. Another great graph about the progression of no-till for different surveyed crops in this article:
    It says no-till saves the carbon dioxide equivalent of 1.25 million cars every year.

    And New Scientist UK this month (Nov. 11) attributes the recent slow down of carbon dioxide emissions to "a thousand cuts", among which conservation tillage methods such as no-till certainly plays a role.

    Agriculture still has a negative carbon balance, but it's only a minor contributor to greenhouse gas emissions anyway, we'd save much more by cleaning up our industry and transportation. China went from building two coal power plants per week down to just one in a very short amount of time, so that's encouraging. They also recently decided to develop solar power plants on a Chinese scale, that would bring so many benefits that it's a wonder they haven't thought about it earlier: It will help removing the smog from the cities and the heavy and toxic metals and compounds that deposit on arable land, it will shift subsidies from solar cell plants to power plants, so China will be complying with ex-WTO rules and tariffs of 40% or more on their products will be removed, it will find the best use for all the overproduction of solar cells that currently plagues the industry, and after the initial payback, it will still continue to provide nearly free electricity for 20 years.

  2. Thanks, Chimel very appropriate for today's blog! I am keeping it short tonight but thanks!