US report details big crop losses to drought in 2012


DES MOINES, Iowa — The federal government released its final crop report for 2012 on Friday, detailing heavy losses caused by the worst drought the U.S. has experienced since the 1950s.

Much of the attention focused on corn, which is widely used as an ingredient in many foods and as feed for livestock. Farmers produced less than three-fourths of the corn the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) anticipated when planting was done in the spring. The year-end report shows a harvest of 10.78 billion bushels, 27-percent less than the agency’s initial estimate of 14.8 billion bushels. (A bushel of corn equals 25.4 kilograms, or 56 pounds).

The harvest, however, was still one of the largest in U.S. history. Farmers say better crop technology that improved the ability of corn to withstand drought saved them from more devastating losses, and production was helped by the large number of acres planted this year.

The USDA closed the year by saying farmers planted 97.2 million acres (39.3 million hectares) of corn, the most since 1937.