Crop & Plant Science Facts

Corn  |  Soybean  |  Wheat  |  Sorghum

Corn Production

irrigating corn with center pivot

  • Corn production in terms of bushels/acre has increased dramatically over the years –from 26 bushels/acre produced in Nebraska in the 1900s to 178 bushels per acre (a new record) produced in 2009.
  • In the last decade, corn yields in Nebraska increased 41%.

— Nebraska Corn Board, 2010

Corn Facts

  • An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows.
  • A pound of corn consists of about 1,300 kernels.
  • Today, each U.S. farmer produces food and fiber for 155 people in the United States and abroad.
  • A corn plant can be anywhere from 5 to 12 feet tall, on average 8 ft tall by midsummer and a healthy corn's roots can reach 6 ½ feet into the ground!
  • Corn growth and development occurs in the vegetative and reproductive stages.
  • Different corn plants have different numbers of ears; some might have two to three ears!
  • Silks on corn are essential for pollen from the tassels to fertilize the plant. If its too hot, silks can dry out and not fertilize all sites on a corn cob, thus resulting in a gap on the ear of corn where no kernels developed because they weren't fertilized.
  • Different kinds of corn are grown for different uses:

Yellow Dent Corn — Feed, ethanol, food
White Dent Corn — Food
Popcorn — Yellow, white, microwave
Sweetcorn — Food
High Lysine, High Oil — Specific uses for feed or industry
Flint Corn — Decoration

Of the top five crops grown in America today—corn soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and grain sorghum—only corn is native to America.

Lessons from the Nebraska Corn Board

CropWatch information on corn

Soybean Production

  • Nebraska soybean yields in 2009 averaged more than 54 bushels per acre; in the 1920's average yield was 14 bushels/acre.
  • Irrigated soybean yields are 62 bushels/acre while rainfed soybeans average 36 bushels/acre

— Nebraska CropWatch

Soybean Factshandful of soybeans

  • Soybeans are the world's foremost provider of protein and oil.
  • Soybeans are a legume plant related to clover, peas and alfalfa.
  • Soybean vegetative stages are numbered according to how many fully-developed trifoliate leaves are present. The reproductive (R) stages begin at flowering and include pod development, seed development, and plant maturation. Soybean growth and development.
  • A 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields about 48 pounds of protein-rich meal and 11 pounds of oil. There are many uses of soybeans, many often not thought of.
  • More soybeans are grown in the United States than any other country in the world.
  • Farmers plant soybeans in late spring.
  • During the summer, soybeans flower and produce 60-80 pods, each holding three pea-sized beans.
  • In the early fall, farmers harvest their crop for soybeans.

Facts from the Nebraska Soybean Board
Nebraska CropWatch information on soybeans

Wheat Productionwheat stalks

  • Winter wheat is one of the major field crops grown in Nebraska, along with corn and soybean.
  • In 2007, more than 256,000 acres were grown under irrigation in the state.
  • Nebraska is typically one of the top 10 winter wheat producing states in the U.S.
  • Production is mainly in the western part of Nebraska, but recently acreage in the south central and eastern parts of the state has increased.

Wheat Facts

  • Six classes bring order to about 30 thousand varieties of wheat. They are: Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Soft Red Winter, Durum, Hard White and Soft White.
  • More foods are made with wheat than any other cereal grain.
  • One bushel of wheat contains approximately one million individual kernels.
  • One bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds.
  • One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour.
  • One bushel of wheat yields approximately 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.
  • A bushel of wheat yields 42 commercial loaves of white bread (one-and-a-half pound loaves).

Resources from the Nebraska Wheat Board

Nebraska CropWatch information on wheat

Sorghum Facts

  • Sorghum is a coarse, upright growing grass that is used for both grain and forage production. Grain sorghum is shorter and has been bred for higher grain yields.
  • A grain sorghum plant looks a lot like a corn plant but is shorter and more colorful. The head grows on the top of the plant and is white, yellow, red or bronze.
  • Grain sorghum is also called "milo" and is a major feed grain for cattle. Sorghum has a very hard kernel, which makes it resistant to disease and damage but harder to digest for animals.
  • Sorghum is ground, cracked, steam flaked, and/or roasted. It can be cooked like rice, made into porridge, baked into flatbreads and popped like popcorn.

Resources from the Nebraska Sorghum Board

Nebraska CropWatch information on sorghum