Kentucky's Corn Industry
Corn is a leading crop in Kentucky along with soybeans.
Corn production in Kentucky for 2017 was reported at 217 million bushels. Average yield was estimated at 178 bushels per acre (record high). Acres for harvest as grain were estimated at 1.22 million acres.
Between 40 and 50% of the Kentucky corn crop is fed to livestock. Poultry in Kentucky consume about 45 million bushels alone. Beef and dairy cattle and hogs are also important Kentucky corn consumers.
From the 12 million bushels of corn used annually to produce fuel ethanol, 107,000 tons of distiller's grains are produced, which is also fed to livestock and poultry. Another 15-20 million bushels of corn is utilized by Kentucky's bourbon and spirits industry.
(Source: Kentucky Distillers Association)
About 35 million bushels were exported in 2016 (Source: US Grains Council). Any additional corn is stored or fed to on-farm livestock.
Kentucky’s family corn farmers are producing twice as much corn as they did in the early 1900’s—on two-third’s less land.95% of Kentucky’s corn farms are family owned, and many of the remaining 5% are partnerships between family members.
Top corn counties in Kentucky:
Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service and Economic Research Commission
Kentucky Corn is Grown for Feed, Food, Fuel, & Fun
There are three types of corn grown in Kentucky: field corn, popcorn, and sweet corn.
Field corn is the most popular type of corn grown by our farmers since it can be used for livestock feed, ground into meal and flour for human food, distilled into alcohol (fuel and beverage), or processed to be used in thousands of products.
Corn was discovered in North America. Early native Americans domesticated the corn plant and eventually shared their seeds and knowledge with European visitors and settlers. Christopher Columbus took corn back with him to Europe in 1492, and we are all aware that corn was an important crop for the Pilgrims in the early 1600s. Corn is now grown world-wide.
It takes a corn plant between 3 and 4 months to grow and mature. Most field corn is planted in the spring and harvested in the early fall. A combine harvests field corn when it is dry enough for storage. Corn is then transported to the markets that need it.
About half of the field corn grown in Kentucky is fed to livestock. Chickens eat the most Kentucky field corn. Kentucky also has several food processing companies that use food-grade corn, many distilleries, and an ethanol plant in Hopkinsville that turns corn into fuel. Corn that is not used in Kentucky is exported to other states or across the world.