How will El Niño impact corn yields? Historical USDA data reveals varying trends

The El Niño weather event is creeping in and it could reach super strength. But how it will impact the ongoing corn harvest? Numbers show varying trends.

According to historical data collected by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) from its annual reports during other El Nino weather patterns, we can get a glimpse at how corn production fared in years past.

In 1982, corn production and yield set new records at the time with 8.4 billion bushels with an average of 114.8 bushels per acre.

In 1997, 9.37 billion bushels were harvested with an average of 127 bushels per acre. That was the third highest production on record.

There was a third super El Niño growing season in 2015, and 13.601 billion bushels were harvested with a yield of 168.4 bushels an acre. Both production and yield were down that year slightly.

According to press release from the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) on Oct. 12, 2023, corn and soybean production was down in September 2023. However, “corn production is forecast at 15.1 billion bushels, down less than 1% from the previous forecast but up 10% from last year. [...] Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, corn yields are expected to average 173.0 bushels per harvested acre, down 0.8 bushel from the previous forecast and down 0.4 bushel from 2022.”

As farmers in the Midwest finish their soybean harvest, some are reporting issues with stalk strength due to high winds, but only time will tell how this harvest will shake out for U.S. corn growers.


Cattle producers recently promoted U.S. beef on a trip to Japan and Korea with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
After years of drought, farmers across U.S. farm country are getting so much rainfall that it’s dampening their spring planting progress later into the season.
According to USDA experts, Brazil and Argentina’s large drop in corn production has more to do with the economics of corn markets than impacts from weather.
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, no part of Iowa is experiencing extreme levels of drought for the first time in nearly two years.
Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join us as we interview members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.