The number of planted corn acres for the 2011 crop greatly increased in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota compared to a year earlier. This increase may make this year’s corn crop the second largest in nearly seven decades. Last year’s crop was planted on 88 million acres.

USDA surprised corn growers by reporting June 30 that the number of planted corn acres is 92.3 million acres, not the 90.7 million estimated earlier in June. As a result, corn prices tumbled the limit.

The growth came in western Corn Belt states where weather was more favorable to planting than in the eastern part of the Corn Belt. For example, the number of total corn acres planted in Illinois, the second largest corn-producing state, actually dropped, due in part to a wet spring. In the state, 12.5 million acres of corn were planted, compared to 12.6 million in 2010.

Growers in Nebraska were the most aggressive in planting more corn by adding 850,000 acres this year. Growers reported planting a total of 10 million acres of corn. Producers in Iowa followed close behind with an additional 800,000 acres, bringing the state's total 2011 acreage to 14.2 million. South Dakota has an additional 650,000 acres, which brings the state's total to 5.2 million acres. In Minnesota, the number of corn acres increased by 400,000 for a total of 8.1 million acres.

Kansas, North Dakota and Wisconsin each added 250,000 acres of corn. Michigan added 150,000 acres, while Arkansas and Mississippi each added 110,000 acres. Kentucky and Missouri each added 100,000 acres of corn.   

Also noteworthy is the large decline in the number of corn acres planted in Texas. Corn growers planted 350,000 fewer acres for a total of 1.95 million this year. Drought and an increase in cotton acres are cited for the loss in corn acreage.