Corn, or maize, is a cereal grain originally cultivated by indigenous people in Mexico 10,000 years ago. The plant has a leafy stalk that produces pollen inflorescences and ears that produce kernels or seeds.
Corn is widely cultivated around the world, with its total production surpassing that of wheat or rice. There are six types of corn: dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn. Dent, flint, and flour corn varieties are used to make animal feed, cornmeal, corn oil, and alcoholic beverages such as bourbon whiskey. Sweet corn, which is rich in sugar, is usually grown for human consumption. Additionally, corn is used for biofuel and ethanol production.
Today, the United States is the largest corn producer globally, with approximately 96 million acres of land reserved for corn production. While most states plant and produce corn, it is grown mostly in the Heartland region, including Iowa, Illinois, eastern South Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, northern Missouri, and western Kentucky. In 2020, four states produced over 1 billion bushels of corn: Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Nineteen states produced over 100 million bushels of corn.
Corn production plays a major role in the U.S. economy, as the grain can be used for food, seed, and industrial purposes. The United States also exports about 38% of the world's total corn exports to other countries. In 2018, the United States exported approximately $12.9 billion of corn.
The ten states that produce the most corn in the United States are:
- South Dakota
Iowa is the largest producer of corn in the United States. While officially nicknamed "The Hawkeye State," Iowa is also known as "The Corn State" due to 90% of its land devoted to agriculture. Iowa produced 2,296,200,000 bushels of corn in 2020, about 16.19% of the total U.S. production.
Illinois follows Iowa with 2,131,200,000 bushels of corn, about 15.03% of the total U.S. production. Nebraska and Minnesota produced 1,790,090,000 and 1,441,920,000 respectively. Together, the four top corn-producing states produced over 54% of the country's total corn.
Below is a table with each state's corn production and percentage of the U.S. total corn production.