World of Corn report breaks down corn used for ethanol, DDGS

By Holly Jessen | March 01, 2012

The National Corn Growers Association’s annual report reveals statistics about U.S. corn production, including the amount of corn used for ethanol production and the amount of distillers grains that goes back into the feed market.

The 2012 World of Corn shows 5 billion bushels of the current supply of corn is being used for ethanol, and 1.547 billion bushels of that re-enters the feed market. That includes distillers grains and corn gluten for domestic use and a smaller amount of DDGS for export.

Corn displaced by DDGS and corn gluten in domestic livestock rations has grown dramatically from 189 million bushels in 2002, according to figures from ProExporter Network, which was cited as the source in a World of Corn chart. In 2009 the number was 1.1 billion bushels and in 2010 it was 1.2 billion bushels.

Beginning last year, the NCGA has revised the way it presents data on the amount of corn going into ethanol to reflect the amount that leaves the plant as coproducts and re-enters the feed market. Because the USDA does not account for distillers grains and corn gluten feed, it overstates the amount of corn used for ethanol and understates the amount used as livestock feed, NCGA said last year. After the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition requested USDA report corn usage for ethanol more accurately, the agency did add a footnote to its supply and demand estimates report last spring. 

Taking the DDGS production numbers into account, ethanol accounted for 27.3 percent of corn usage in 2011, according to the World of Corn report. The largest usage of corn remained feed and residual, at 36.3 percent. The 5 billion bushels of corn that went into ethanol production is down somewhat from the 5.021 billion bushels for the same use in 2010. Corn exports, on the other hand, dropped from 1.835 billion bushels in 2010 to 1.65 billion bushels in 2011.

The 12-page report is full of many other corn statistics. For example, it lays out the results of the corn harvest, which was successful despite a challenging year, NCGA said. In the 2011 marketing year, 91.9 million acres of corn were planted, 84 million harvested and 12.4 billion bushels produced. At an average price of $6.20 per bushel, that added up to $76.62 billion corn crop value.

In comparison, in 2010, 88.2 million acres were planted and 81.4 million harvested. The same amount—12.4 billion bushels—were produced. A lower average price of $5.30 in 2010 resulted in a total corn crop value of $65.97 billion.

"The world of corn has come a long way since the single seed kernel was planted next to a fish for fertilizer," said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer and CEO Rick Tolman in the introduction. "Given those humble beginnings, it's incredible to imagine that 10 years from now, American farmers will be producing 17 billion bushels annually... We can only imagine how much further it will go."

The report was co-sponsored by Monsanto and will later be released with statistics in metric measurements. One new feature is a poster-size timeline of the history of corn. For example, it shows that in 2007 there were 100 ethanol plants in the U.S. with a combined capacity of 5.4 billion gallons. It also includes corny facts, such as this one: “Corn grows on every continent except Antarctica. No surprise there.”