Iowa has approximately 86,900 farms. More than 97 percent of those farms are owned by farm families.
Iowa ranks number one in producing corn, soybeans, hogs, eggs, ethanol and Dry Distillers Grain Solubles (DDGS) which serve as a premium source of protein for livestock. It also ranks fourth in beef cattle.
In 2019, Iowa farmers produced around 2.58 billion bushels of corn for grain and harvested 13.1 million acres according to the U.S. Department of Agricultural Statistics Service.
Sweet Corn vs. Field Corn
Only one percent of corn planted in the United States is sweet corn.
99 percent of corn grown in Iowa is “Field Corn”. When Iowa’s corn farmers deliver corn from the field, it’s “Field Corn”. Not the delicious sweet corn you might enjoy on the cob or in a can.
Field corn is the classic big ears of yellow dented corn you see dried and harvested in the fall. It’s called “dent corn” because of the distinctive dent that forms on the kernel as the corn dries.
While a small portion of “Field Corn” is processed for use as corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup for human consumption, it is primarily used for livestock feed, ethanol production and manufactured goods. It’s considered a grain.
Sweet corn is what people purchase fresh, frozen or canned for eating. It’s consumed as a vegetable. Unlike “Field Corn”, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature, sweet corn is picked when immature.
What is it used for?
Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, with 57 percent (1.5 billion bushels) of the corn grown in Iowa going to create nearly 27 percent of all American ethanol.
960 million bushels or 42 percent of Iowa Corn went directly into livestock feed. In livestock feeding, one bushel of corn converts to about 8 pounds of beef, 15.6 pounds of pork, or 21.6 pounds of chicken. Learn more.
One bushel of corn produces 17 pounds of DDGS as well as 2.8 gallons of ethanol. Learn more.
1.494 billion bushels of Iowa corn in the 2018/19 marketing year went into corn processing used in the wet mill industry for food and industrials usage. Learn more.
14 percent or 2.065 billion bushels of Iowa corn was exported out of the state in the 2018/19 marketing year. In an average year, Iowa produces more corn than most countries. Learn more.
Corn is in more than 4,000 grocery store items a few examples include: shampoo, toothpaste, chewing gum, marshmallows, crayons and paper. Learn more.
Debunking FOod & FUel Myths
Many products depend on corn as well, from paper goods and cardboard packaging, to all the meat, milk, eggs, poultry and other protein products that come from corn-fed animals.
Farmers and ranchers that provide our meat, milk and eggs depend on genetically enhanced crops as critical components in production of their animals' feed. Livestock in the U.S. have been fed genetically modified crops since they were first introduced in 1996.
Humans have also been consuming genetically modified (GMO) foods since 1996 also. Hundreds of scientific studies have confirmed the safety of these biotechnology products. In fact in the United States, alone, 9 billion food-producing animals are produced annually, with 95 percent of them consuming feed that contains genetically engineered ingredients meaning consumers come in contact with GMO's on a daily basis.
Oil, not corn, has been driving up global food prices. The World Bank conducted research determining crude oil as the number one determinant of global food prices. The cost of energy from oil is integral to so much of the 84 percent of what makes up grocery costs. When the price of oil goes up, so does food prices.
The great thing about corn is that it provides:
A renewable, environmentally-friendly fuel source (Ethanol)
Animal feed for livestock which is important to our food supply
Exports supplying the world with corn and corn products which boosts our economy
Food ingredients necessary for preparing many of our favorite meals
Bio-based, renewable materials for industrial uses such as bioplastics
Other Fun Corn Facts
Corn can be produced in various colors including blackish, bluish-gray, purple, green, red and white but the most common color grown is yellow
There is one silk for every kernel that grows in an ear of corn
The number of kernels per ear can vary from 500 to about 1,200, but a typical ear would have 800 kernels in 16 rows
Corn is grown in every continent except Antarctica
One acre of corn is about the size of a football field
A bushel of corn is 56 pounds, about the weight of a large bag of dog food.
A single corn bushel can sweeten about 400 cans of soda pop. Learn more.