Iowa is the nation’s leader in the production of corn and ethanol, but as demand for the corn-based fuel grows, some fear the state will face a corn deficit and have to start importing the grain to make ethanol.
Kyle Phillips, chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and a corn grower from Knoxville, says there will be enough corn grown here to meet all demands, thanks in part to scientific advancements. “We have the good fortune to have a much higher yield potential in the new corn hybrids we are currently employing and two major seed corn companies have communicated with us that they are planning on a two-and-a-half percent yield increase per year just from new genetics,” Phillips says. That expected two-and-a-half percent boost in the yield is a conservative estimate, according to Phillips.
Phillips says another element is contributing to his declaration that Iowa won’t soon run short on corn. “There’s going to be more acres for corn production. The farmers are responding to the market signals. The market is calling for more corn and there will be more corn produced,” he says. “Also, the farmers are going to be producing corn from CRP acres.”
He says up to seven-million acres will be taken out of the Conservation Reserve Program and devoted to corn, acres he says are not significantly sensitive and that will not have an adverse effect on the environment.
Bob Bowman, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and a corn grower from DeWitt, says this growing demand for corn is something they’ve long worked toward and now welcome. “We plan on responding,” Bowman says. “Myself and my neighbors, we are planning on ramping up some acres into corn this year because the corn market is giving us that opportunity.”
Brian Jones, the Corn Board’s manager of research and business development, says Iowa alone supplies about seven-percent of all the corn grown in the world — and we’ll continue to build on that accomplishment. “It’s quite possible that with the transition of yields from soybean acres to corn acres and the yield increases, as we factor all of that together, it’s quite possible that just the additional and incremental yield we see from year to year is enough to meet a fairly robust ethanol demand increase,” he says.