State Yield and Acreage Trends
- In 2016, irrigated and rainfed soybean yields averaged 67.5 bu/ac and 55.1 bu/ac, respectively. US average soybean yield was 52.1 bu/ac.
- Irrigated soybean yields are increasing at a rate of 0.676 bu/ac per year, which is about two-thirds bushel per acre per year.
- Rainfed soybean yields are also increasing, but at a slower rate of 0.456 bu/ac per year.
- US yields (mostly rainfed) are rising at a rate of 0.464 bu/ac year, which is only slightly higher than the rate in Nebraska.
- Large season-to-season fluctuations occur in rainfed soybean yields because of annual variance in seasonal rainfall event amounts and distribution.
- Irrigated soybean yields are predictably high each year so investing in yield-improving technological inputs is less risky and potentially more profitable.
- Such investments are likely why the yield difference between irrigated and rainfed production is widening on average by 0.22 bu/ac per year.
Nebraska Irrigated and Rainfed Acreage Trends
- In 2016 2.46 million irrigated acres (48%) and 2.69 million rainfed acres (52%) of soybeans were grown in Nebraska.
- Irrigated acreage, which in 1976 accounted for just 7% of total acreage, increased to 29% by 1990 and in 1998-2001 increased to about 45%, near where it remains today.
- Rainfed acreage followed a similar trend, but after a spurt upward in 1995-2000, it has remained mostly level the last 15 years.
- The 2007 dip in irrigated and rainfed soybean acreage was due to a temporary shift of soybean acreage to corn acreage in anticipation of ethanol-driven higher corn prices.