Eric Hunt

AER Corn Belt Report

By Eric Hunt
May 2, 2018

Recent research has highlighted a spatial shift in the Corn Belt. While the spatial expansion to the northwest in the Corn Belt is evident, it was not clear if there has also been a corresponding shift in the highest yielding areas over time. During the 2012 flash drought that affected almost all of the traditional United States Corn Belt, there seemed to be media consensus that the highest yields will eventually be in states like Minnesota and South Dakota. Therefore, we extended previous work to determine whether such a hypothesis about the northward shift in the highest yielding districts has been concurrent with the spatial expansion of the Corn Belt. We found that northward shift in the highest yields is consistent with the overall shift in the Corn Belt, but what may have gone unnoticed is the equally significant westward shift in the highest yields. This short report quantifies some of the changes that have been observed over the Corn Belt since the early 1960’s.