Over the past decade, corn yields have been increasing an average of 3.4 bushels per acre per year. That is double the average of the previous decade and all indications are that will continue, which is good news for the corn ethanol industry.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International senior marketing manager Joe Foresman says regarding corn yields, “With the genetic advancements that have been made over the last ten years in the industry, literally the sky is the limit.” The latest forecast for corn yields in 2006 is 151.2 bushels/acre, up 3.3 from last year despite drought in many areas of the country.
Also good for the industry is the development of new hybrid varieties of corn that are highly fermentable – a desirable trait for ethanol production. Pioneer currently has 135 hybrids that are considered highly fermentable, including 17 of the 20 top selling varieties, but Foresman says they are also very aware of the needs on the livestock side of the corn business, since the ethanol production process creates about 17 pounds of distillers grains for every bushel of corn.
“We’re looking that we can help improve the value at the plant and also at the feedlot,” said Foresman.
Pioneer, which is a DuPont company, is also actively involved with DuPont on the development of cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol.
Listen to my interview with Joe Foresman at this year’s National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual meeting: Pioneer (6 min MP3)