Excerpted from the Environmental Impact of Missouri Crop Production report

During the past century, the quantity of various commodities produced by Missouri farmers has changed. The table below reports the peak five-year average of acres harvested, the five-year period during which the peak was recorded, acres harvested on average from 2012 to 2016 and the harvested acreage change recorded during the two periods — the peak five-year period and the 2012-to-2016 period. Acres harvested of corn, wheat, barley, cotton, oats, rye, grain sorghum and tobacco all decreased at least 46 percent between their peak five-year period and the 2012-to-2016 period.

Exhibit 2.3 — Changes in individual crop harvested acres

CropPeak Acres Harvested (5-Year Average)5-Year Period of Peak Acres HarvestedAcres Harvested (2012–2016 Average)Change in Acres Harvested
*Data available from 2012 census only
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 1917–2016 census and survey data

The importance of improved technology to crop production can be illustrated by the trend in U.S. corn yields per acre since 1900. Absent significant soil, technology or genetic improvements, from 1900 to 1930 corn yields actually decreased 0.1 bushel per acre per year. In the 1930s, commercial fertilizers and improved hybrids began being widely adopted. Yields began increasing 1.3 bushels per acre per year. Herbicides were widely adopted in the 1970s, and annual yield increases grew to 1.6 bushels per acre per year. When biotechnology traits began imparting pest and pesticide resistance benefits, yields began increasing at the rate of 1.9 bushels per acre per year.

U.S. corn productivity showing technology impacts, 1900–2016

Missouri Land Uses, 1945-2012
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service