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A Comparison of 2008 Organic Row Crop

Yields to Historical Yield Trends
Steve Savage, Ph.D.
2/5/2011

1

The Premise of This Study
In 2008, the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA
(USDA-NASS) conducted a detailed survey of US Organic
agriculture
 The yields (on a per harvested acre basis) for Organic crops are
generally lower than the overall average
 It is difficult to put these yield differences into perspective

For most crops, yields have been increasing steadily over time
based on a wide variety of technical advances
 Some of these advances are available to Organic row crop growers
(conventional breeding gains, equipment improvements…)
 Some of these advances are not available to Organic row crop growers
(new and effective pesticides, precision fertilization technologies, biotech
traits…)

This analysis looks at how Organic row crop yields in 2008 compare
to historical trends in yield as a way to quantify what lower Organic
yields actually “mean” from an agronomic and food supply point of
view

The Analysis Process
For this analysis, the Organic survey data were compared to the historical
acreage and yield data available through QuickStats 1, also from USDANASS
Not all comparisons were feasible due to
 Missing or confidentiality-deleted data points
 Likely differences in irrigated vs un-irrigated production in Organic vs Overall
 Very poor fits for yield trends
 Genetic differences (e.g. oil vs confectionary sunflowers, wild vs normal rice…)

Analysis was conducted for Soybeans, Wheat (winter, spring, and durum),
Corn (grain and silage), Flax, Oats, Barley, Dry Beans, Prosso Millet and
Sorghum
 Together these crops total 230 million acres of total US crop acreage and
726,000 Organic acres (0.32%)

3

A Summary of Row Crops Data for Organic and Total

Crops
Rye
Flaxseed
Proso Millet
Oats
Dry Edible Beans
Durum Wheat
Barley
Corn Silage
Sorghum
Spring Wheat
Winter Wheat
Soybeans
Corn
Row Crops Above

% Organic
Acres
3.43
4.11
2.11
2.94
0.86
0.86
1.25
0.42
0.11
0.69
0.51
0.13
0.18
0.32

% Organic
Production
3.12
2.79
1.50
2.52
0.69
0.51
0.88
0.33
0.05
0.46
0.31
0.09
0.13
0.18

% Organic Total US Acres
Value
x 1000
3.35
269
5.42
340
2.95
460
3.19
1,400
0.93
1,445
0.96
2,574
1.18
3,779
5,965
0.09
7,271
0.83
13,517
0.58
39,608
0.17
74,681
0.23
78,570
0.32
229,879

Methodology and Key
Key (for all subsequent slides as well)

US Soybean Yield Trend
50

Annual overall yields over time

45

2008 overall yield from region/crop

Line fit to historic yield data
(equation and R2 above)

40
Bushels/Acre

2008 Organic yield for region/crop
plotted at the year for which the
overall trend line was at that level of
yield (corrected for 2008 yield
deviation from the trend line)

y = 0.4993x - 960.02
2
R = 0.7606

35
30
25

Organic Yield 66% of Average,
equivalent of 1979 yield, 29
year difference

20
15
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

In this case, the US Organic soy
yield in 2008 was equivalent to that
from 1979 or 29 years earlier. This
is adjusted for the fact that the
overall yield was below trend line in
2008
5

2010

2015

National Level Data

US Major Row Crops
Spring Wheat US

US Soybean Yield Trend
50

50

45

45

y = 0.4993x - 960.02
2
R = 0.7606

40
35
Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

40
35
30
25

Organic Yield 66% of Average,
equivalent of 1979 yield, 29
year difference

20

y = 0.3618x - 687.08
R2 = 0.3567

30
25
20
15
Organic Yield 47% of Average,
equivalent of 1951 yield, 57
year difference

10
5

15

0

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

1940

1,331 Organic farms, 98.113 acres

1950

US Corn Yield Trend

1990

2000

2010

2020

US Winter Wheat Yield Trend

45

y = 2.045x - 3953.3
2
R = 0.7498

y = 0.3088x - 575.21
2
R = 0.4929

40
Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

1980

50

140
120
100

35
30
25

Organic Yield 71% of
Average, equivalent of 1986.5
yield, 21.5 year difference

80

Organic Yield 60% of Average,
equivalent of 1950 yield, 58 year
difference

20
15

60
1970

1970

484 Organic farms, 93,372 acres

180
160

1960

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2,146 Organic farms, 143432 acres

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

875 Organic farms, 202,968 acres

2010

2020

Other Row Crops (1 of 2)
Flaxseed US

Oats US

25

y = 0.3677x - 675.17

y = 0.2835x - 549.12
2
R = 0.4417

65

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

20

70

15

10

Organic Yield 83% of Average,
equivalent of 1985 yield, 23
year difference

5

60
55
50
Organic Yield 86% of Average,
equivalent of 1983 yield, 25
year difference

45
40

0
1975

2

R = 0.3479

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

1975

2015

1980

85 Organic farms, 13,958 acres
Barley US

2000

2005

2010

2015

Dry Edible Beans US

y = 0.5938x - 1127.1
2
R = 0.5775

17

y = 0.1032x - 190.18
R2 = 0.529

16

50
40
30

15
14

20

Organic Yield 70% of Average,
equivalent of 1975 yield, 33
year difference

10

Organic Yield 81% of Average,
equivalent of 1976 yield, 32
year difference

13

0
1970

1995

18

CWT/Acre

Bushels/Acre

60

1990

1,040 Organic farms, 41,016 acres

80
70

1985

12
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

578 Organic farms, 47,227 acres

2010

2015

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

127 Organic farms, 12,407 acres

2010

2015

Other Row Crops (2 of 2)
Durum Wheat US

Corn For Silage US
50

22

45

20

40

y = 0.2024x - 388.58
2
R = 0.6621

16
14
12
Organic Yield 80% of Average,
equivalent of 1991 yield, 17year
difference

10

30
25
20
15
Organic Yield 59% of Average,
equivalent of 1950 yield, 58
year difference

10
5

8
1970

y = 0.2521x - 470.52
2
R = 0.1633

35
Bushels/Acre

Tons/Acre

18

0
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

1940

1950

1960

Prosso Millet US
y = 0.3633x - 714.82
2
R = 0.1385

2010

2020

90

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

2000

Sorghum US

12
10
8
6
Organic Yield 71% of Average,
equivalent of 1996 yield, 12
year difference

4
2

80

y = 0.5488x - 1028.8

70

R = 0.1556

2

60
50
40
30

Organic Yield 52% of Average,
equivalent of 1944 yield, 64
year difference

20
10
0

0
1975

1990

100

18

14

1980

40 Organic farms, 22,038 acres

664 Organic farms, 24,871 acres

16

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

42 Organic farms, 9,698 acres

2010

2015

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

46 Organic farms, 7,797 acres

2020

State Level Data

Winter Wheat (1 of 2)
Ohio Winter Wheat Yield Trend

Michigan Winter Wheat Yield Trend

75
70

80
y = 0.798x - 1534
2
R = 0.5711

75
70

55
50

Organic Yield 53% of Average,
equivalent of 1968 yield, 40
year difference

45

60
55
50

40

35

35
30

30
1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

1975

2020

50

y = 0.572x - 1088.5
2
R = 0.5467
Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

60

55
50
45
40

Organic Yield 66% of Average,
equivalent of 1973 yield, 35
year difference

35

y = 0.7327x - 1426.6
R2 = 0.5068

40
30
20
Organic Yield 74% of Average,
equivalent of 1992 yield, 16
year difference

10

30
1960

1985

North Dakota Winter Wheat Yield Trend

New York Winter Wheat Yield Trend
70

60

1980

75 Organic farms,4,982 acres

68 Organic farms, 2,770 acres

65

Organic Yield 77% of Average,
equivalent of 1991 yield, 17
year difference

45

40

1960

y = 0.8992x - 1736.9
2
R = 0.5836

65

60

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

65

0
1970

1980

1990

2000

44 Organic farms,2,417 acres

2010

2020

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

12 Organic farms,3,081 acres

2010

2020

Winter Wheat (2 of 2)
Montana Wheat Yield Trend

Utah Wheat Yield Trend

50

55
50

45
y = 0.3825x - 728.25
2
R = 0.2269

35
30

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

40

45

Organic Yield 39% of Average,
equivalent of 1946 yield, 62 year
difference

25

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Organic Yield 39% of Average,
equivalent of 1946 yield, 62 year
difference

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Yield Trend

75
y = 0.703x - 1346.6
2
R = 0.4555

55
45
35
Organic Yield 57% of Average,
equivalent of 1967 yield, 57 year
difference

25
15
1970

1980

1990

2000

81 Organic farms, 3,032 acres

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

29 Organic farms, 36,829 acres

85

Bushels/Acre

30

15
1960

30 Organic farms, 16,815 acres

1960

35

20

15

65

40

25

20

1950

y = 0.4573x - 872.07
2
R = 0.4739

2010

2020

2010

2020

Spring Wheat
North Dakota Spring Wheat Yield Trend

South Dakota Spring Wheat Yield Trend

50

50

35

40
35

Organic Yield 55%
of Average,
equivalent of 1967
yield, 41year
difference

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

40

45

y = 0.421x - 807.46
R2 = 0.318

45

30

y = 0.6935x - 1352.1
2
R = 0.567

30
25
20
Organic Yield 62% of
Average, equivalent of 1986
yield, 22 year difference

15
10

25

5
20
1960

0
1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

Spring Wheat MN
70
y = 0.4615x - 878.5
2
R = 0.205

Bushels/Acre

50
40
30
20
Organic Yield 72% of Average,
equivalent of 1979 yield, 29
year difference

10
0
1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

113 Organic farms, 9,858 acres

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

92 Organic farms, 20,867 acres

41 Organic farms, 6,783 acres

60

1975

2010

2015

2010

2015

Soybeans (1 of 2)
Missouri Soybean Yield Trend

Indiana Soybean Yield Trend
50

55

45
y = 0.4907x - 937.48
R2 = 0.5659

40
Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

50

45

40

y = 0.4784x - 921.27
R2 = 0.5286

35
30
25

35

Organic Yield 81% of Average,
equivalent of 1989 yield, 19 year
difference

30
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Organic Yield 61% of Average,
equivalent of 1976 yield, 32 year
difference

20
15
2015

1970

11 Organic farms, 593 acres

1975

1980

Nebraska Soybean Yield Trend

2000

2005

2010

2015

New York Soybean Yield Trend

45

y = 0.6919x - 1340.4
2
R = 0.6935

40
35
30

20

35
30
25

Organic Yield 70% of Average,
equivalent of 1987 yield, 21
year difference

25

y = 0.8723x - 1708.4
R2 = 0.6911

40

45

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

1995

50

55

Organic Yield 75% of Average,
equivalent of 1996 yield, 13
year difference

20

15
1975

1990

18 Organic farms, 895 acres

60

50

1985

15
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

63 Organic farms, 5,828 acres

2010

2015

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

92 Organic farms, 6,775 acres

2010

2015

Soybeans (2 of 2)
Ohio Soybean Yield Trend

Pennsylvania Soybean Yield Trend
50

55
50

40

40

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

45

45
y = 0.3994x - 757.68
R2 = 0.4023

35
30

35
30
25

25
Organic Yield 75% of Average,
equivalent of 1980 yield, 28 year
difference

20
15
1970

y = 0.4107x - 782.98
R2 = 0.3989

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

105 Organic farms, 5,790 acres

2010

Organic Yield 84% of Average,
equivalent of 1992 yield, 16 year
difference

20
15
2015

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

54 Organic farms, 1,386 acres

2010

2015

Corn (1 of 2)
Nebraska Corn Yield Trend

California Corn Yield Trend
200
190
180

190
y = 1.6931x - 3216.7
R2 = 0.8008

180
170
Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

170
160
150
140
130

Organic Yield 88% of
Average, equivalent of 1996
yield, 12.5 year difference

120
110

y = 2.0048x - 3866
R2 = 0.723

150
140
130
120

Organic Yield 67% of
Average, equivalent of 1982
yield, 26 year difference

110

100
1975

160

100
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

1975

1980

8 Organic farms, 1,751 acres

2000

2005

2010

2015

180
160

y = 2.5427x - 4978.6
R2 = 0.7732

120

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

1995

Wisconsin Corn Yield Trend

South Dakota Corn Yield Trend

100
80

Organic Yield 68% of
Average, equivalent of 1992
yield, 16 year difference

60
40
1975

1990

74 Organic farms, 8,991 acres

160
140

1985

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

30 Organic farms, 2,694 acres

2005

2010

2015

140

y = 1.7286x - 3326.3
2
R = 0.609

120
100

Organic Yield 65% of
Average, equivalent of 1979
yield, 29 year difference

80
60
1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

493 Organic farms, 24,304 acres

2010

2015

Corn (2 of 2)
North Dakota Corn Yield Trend
140

150

120

130

y = 1.744x - 3364.8
2
R = 0.678

110
90

Organic Yield 75% of
Average, equivalent of 1988
yield, 20 year difference

50
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

140 Organic farms, 13,748 acres
New York Corn Yield Trend
150

Bushels/Acre

130

y = 1.5335x - 2951.7
2
R = 0.6945

120
110
100
90
80

Organic Yield 84% of
Average, equivalent of 1995
yield, 13 year difference

70
60
1970

60

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

143 Organic farms, 10,612 acres

Organic Yield 47% of
Average, equivalent of 1978
yield, 30 year difference

20
0
1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

12 Organic farms, 1,189 acres

160

140

80

40

70

1975

y = 2.1605x - 4217
2
R = 0.6918

100
Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

Michigan Corn Yield Trend
170

2010

2015

2010

2015

Corn For Silage
Corn For Silage IA

Corn For Silage NY
22

22

20

20
y = 0.1626x - 309.07

18

2

R = 0.66
Tons/Acre

Tons/Acre

18
16
14
12

16
14
12

Organic Yield 74% of Average,
equivalent of 1981 yield, 27
year difference

10

Organic Yield 71% of Average,
equivalent of 1983 yield, 25
year difference

10

8
1970

y = 0.2327x - 447.38
2
R = 0.5294

8
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

1970

1975

87 Organic farms, 2,995 acres
Corn For Silage IN

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Corn For Silage MN

y = 0.2327x - 447.38
2
R = 0.5294

20
18
Tons/Acre

Tons/Acre

1990

22

18
16
14
12

16

y = 0.2071x - 399.38
2
R = 0.4416

14
12

Organic Yield 84% of Average,
equivalent of 1992 yield, 16
year difference

10

Organic Yield 83% of Average,
equivalent of 1995 yield, 13
year difference

10

8
1975

1985

47 Organic farms, 904acres

22
20

1980

8
1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

26 Organic farms, 304 acres

2005

2010

2015

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

63 Organic farms, 2,998 acres

2010

2015

Other Crops and the State Level (1 of 2)
Durum Wheat MT

Barley PA
40

90
80

35

50
40
30
20

2

R = 0.1067

25
20
15
10

Organic Yield 85% of Average,
equivalent of 1993 yield, 15
year difference

10

Organic Yield 89% of Average,
equivalent of 1995 yield, 13
year difference

5

0
1970

y = 0.2355x - 445.11

30

60

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

70

y = 0.7367x - 1404.4
2
R = 0.7096

0
1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

1970

1975

25 Organic farms, 499 acres

1980

1985

Durum Wheat ND

2010

2015

25
y = 0.1401x - 250.69
2
R = 0.0494

Bushels/Acre

Bushels/Acre

2005

Flax ND

25
20
15
10

Organic Yield 67% of Average,
equivalent of 1935 yield, 58
year difference

5

20

y = 0.3177x - 617.33
2
R = 0.4752

15
10
Organic Yield 68% of Average,
equivalent of 1987 yield, 21
year difference

5
0

0
1920

2000

30

40

30

1995

22 Organic farms, 19,604 acres

45

35

1990

1940

1960

1980

2000

11 Organic farms, 1,589 acres

2020

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

59 Organic farms, 12,203 acres

2010

2015

Other Crops and the State Level (2 of 2)
Sorghum KS
100
90
80
Bushels/Acre

70

y = 0.5488x - 1028.8
2
R = 0.1556

60
50
40
30

Organic Yield 52% of Average,
equivalent of 1944 yield, 64
year difference

20
10
0
1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

19 Organic farms, 2,401 acres

2010

2020