Tuesday, October 1, 2013

GMO corn, yields and profits: Not so much

This is a picture from an interesting article on corn in the US.  I'm looking carefully at corn, all sorts of corn, because I really do like it as a forage crop, as winter feed for dairy cows, for instance.  But it only makes sense if I can grow it myself, and organically. 

My take-home lesson from this article is that GMO corn is very, very popular.  But even though over 90% of the corn planted in the US these days is GMO, the yield-per-acre of that corn hasn't risen.  From 2000 to 2012 there has been a small increase, but you'd expect there to be a dramatic increase, as we went from 20% gmo in 2000 to 90% GMO in 2012.  Nope. 

That says to me that the GMO-herbicide treadmill is good for the companies that produce the seed and herbicides, but not so good for the farmer.  You pay more for all of that stuff, so your costs are higher, but your yields aren't.  Seems pretty clear that skipping that whole program in favor of some sort of tillage approach is the right path to take. 

If you want to read the whole article, go here.


1 comment:

Rich said...

The average yield per acre hasn't gone up dramatically because corn is being grown on a lot more acres than it used to be grown on, and some of those new acres aren't as productive as the cropland in the traditional 'corn belt'.

Ten years ago, it was rare to see corn being grown here in OK, but now it's becoming a much more common crop. But, yields here might top out at 90-100 bu vs. 160-180 bu. in Iowa.

So, when you factor in all the lower yielding growing areas into the equation, corn yields have probably actually gone up more than those numbers suggest.

Besides all that, I've always thought that weed control was the main selling point of GMO corn instead of higher yields.