Where Corn and Soybean Yields Were Strong in 2023

Posted by David Widmar on February 12, 2024

Given the widespread drought concerns but better-than-initially-anticipated yields, we recently wondered where corn and soybean yields were strongest. To accomplish this, Brett used historic state-level data to find each state’s trendline yield for 2023 (read more here). The USDA’s state-level estimates were then compared to the trendline, creating a departure from the trend measure. Rather than publishing yields in absolute terms or comparing them to last year, this measure provides more context for where yields were strong or weak.


2023 corn yields were strongest in the eastern Corn Belt (Figure 1). Indiana and Ohio yield exceeded their 2023 trends by 5.8% and 5.4%, respectively. In the Western Corn Belt, where drought conditions were more intense, yields struggled. The hardest hits were Minnesota (-7.8%), Nebraska (-8.1%), and Missouri (-8.9%).


Figure 1. State-Level Corn Yields, Departure from State-Level Trend. 2023. Data Source: USDA and AEI.ag Calculations.



Similarly, soybean yield disappointment increased moving from east to west. However, the magnitudes weren’t the same as corn. For example, Illinois and Missouri soybean yields exceeded the trend.

Indiana was again in the top position, with yields 5.2% above the state trend. To the downside, Nebraska’s (-15 %) and Kansas’s (-32%) yields were extremely hard hit. Keep in mind that dryland production and limited irrigated soybean acreage would be a factor in these two states.

Figure 2. State-Level Soybean Yields, Departure from State-Level Trend. 2023. Data Source: USDA and AEI.ag Calculations.


Wrapping it up

Often, our perceptions of weather conditions and the recent yields (say, the last 3 to 5 years) heavily anchor our thinking about how favorable or disappointing yields in a given year were. While national yields are slightly below the trendline, conditions varied widely across the country.

Overall, producers in the Eastern Corn Belt benefited from strong yields, which helped offset lower commodity prices. Using this measure, Indiana had the best yields in the nation. On the other hand, those in the Western Corn Belt struggled.

Still curious? Read Brett’s full article on this topic, including where national-level bushels were lost in 2023.

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