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The United States (US) is a market leader in many of the world's major crops. Understanding where and when major US crops are grown can help Canadian farmers market their crops. Reports on US seeded acreage, growing conditions, weather forecasts, production reports, and harvest progress are all relevant for Canadian farmers. Some reports, particularly in farm papers, are interesting news but they have little market significance. Other reports are very important. Knowing where the various crops are grown can help separate important market news from "market noise".
This article will show where each of the major US crops is grown. It will also show when the crops are planted, when they are in their reproductive state, and when they are harvested.
Corn, Soybeans, Barley, and Oats
The largest US crop in terms of total production is corn, the majority of which is grown in a region known as the “corn belt”. The second largest crop grown in the US is soybeans. As with corn, soybeans are primarily grown in the Midwestern states. The US barley crop is of most interest to Canadian malt barley growers. US barley is grown over a wide area geographically and the US produces about 60 per cent as much barley as Canada. Although the US produces some oats, Canada is the world’s largest oat exporter and supplies about 70% of the oats imported into the US. Figure 1 and Table 1 show the average annual production of each crop in the US, where they are grown, when they are seeded, when the crop flowers or heads, and when it is harvested.
Table 1 Crop production in the United States
Source: USDA 2013 and USDA 2010
|Crop||Average annual production 2008-2012||Primary growing areas||Seeding||Flowering or heading||Harvesting|
|Corn||12 billion bushels||Iowa|
|April and May||July through first half of Aug||Oct and Nov|
|Soybeans||3 billion bushels||Illinois|
|May and June||July through first 3 weeks of Aug||Late Sept through Oct|
|Barley||205 million bushels||North Dakota|
|April and May||July through first half of Aug||Late July to end of Sept|
|Oats||76 million bushels||Iowa |
|April and May||July through first half of Aug||Aug and Sept|
Figure 1. US Corn, Soybeans, and Barley Production by County (Click on each commodity to see detail map information)
Source: USDA 2010
The third largest crop grown in the United States is wheat. The US produces hard red, soft red, and white winter wheats and hard red and durum spring-seeded varieties. The US also produces very small amounts of white spring wheat. Table 2 and Figure 2 show the primary growing areas for each type of wheat, including the average seeding, heading, and harvesting dates.
Table 2 Wheat Production in the United States
|Type of wheat||Average annual production |
2008 - 2013
|Primary growing areas||Seeding||Heading||Harvesting|
|Hard red winter wheat||951 million bushels||Kansas|
|Late Aug to end of Oct||The following year from late April through early June||Late Aug to end of Oct|
|Hard red spring wheat||506 million bushels||North Dakota|
|April to May||Mid-June to mid-July||Mid-July to Mid-Sept|
|Soft red winter wheat||426 million bushels||Indiana|
|Late Sept to end of Oct||The following year from late April through early June||Late Aug to end of Oct|
|Soft white winter wheat||209 million bushels||Washington|
|Early Sept to mid-Nov||The following year from mid-May to end of June||Mid-July to early Sept|
|Durum wheat||86 million bushels||North Dakota|
|April to May||Mid June to mid-July||Mid-July to mid-Sept|
|Hard white winter wheat||16 million bushels||Kansas|
|Late Aug to end of Oct||The following year from late April through early June||Late Aug to end of Oct |
|Source: USDA 2013; USDA 2010 |
Figure 2 Wheat Production Areas in the United States
Source: National Association of Wheat Growers 2013
The goal of this Agricultural Marketing Manual is to help farmers to decide what is "market noise" and what is market news. For example, if you hear a report that says that the corn crop in Texas is suffering from severe drought, you will know that is "market noise" rather than significant market news. Texas doesn't produce a great deal of corn. Or if you hear that the soybean crop in northern Alabama has been damaged by a frost, you'll know that is "market noise".
Exporting to the US
If you’re interested in exporting to the US, see “Exporting Grain, Oilseeds and Special Crops to the United States” on our YouTube channel.