Illinois is harvesting record numbers of corn. So what do we do with it all?


We just found out last week that farmers in the U.S. grew a record amount of corn in 2016.  In Illinois, we grew the second largest yield ever – 197 bushels per acre.

(For reference, that’s about 197 large dog food bags of corn per football field.  And in 1997, 20 years ago, we had a record high of 129 bushels per acre.)

The thing is, when farmers grow increasing amounts of corn, it has to go somewhere, right?

1-17-17-where-does-il-corn-goIn Illinois, just less than half of our corn is leaving the state.  We call this the export market.  Most of the corn that leaves the state of Illinois will be used to feed livestock in either Texas or in other countries.  Mexico and Japan are our top two international markets right now, with South Korea and Colombia close behind.

Another quarter of our corn is being used to feed ethanol production in Illinois.  Did you know that Illinois boasts the largest dry grind ethanol plant in the world?  It’s true!  And most of the ethanol created by that particular plant is leaving Illinois for overseas markets.

Illinois’s position on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers makes exports of corn in all forms (raw corn, ethanol, livestock) our top market by far.

The rest of the corn, just less than a fourth of our production, is being fed to livestock within Illinois, used for industrial uses (like making the insides of diapers and making suckers less drippy), and used for food and sweeteners.

But of this last grouping, corn industrial uses dominate.  Happily though, Illinois has seen growth in the livestock market recently, with hog numbers the highest they have been in the last 20 years!

Are you shocked to find that we aren’t really EATING the corn grown in Illinois?  Most are.

Want to learn more about corn farming in Illinois?  Click here!

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director