Which US State Produces The Most Corn?

Corn fuels the world. It's eaten on the cob, in the form of corn bread and corn cereal. Livestock also relies on corn for its energy, with it being an essential part of its diet on the farm. Vehicle manufacturers also have come to rely on corn for fuel.

Having been cultivated in North America for about 10,000 years (via Living History Farms), corn was central to Native American life. PBS reported that corn was considered one of the "three sisters," along with beans and squash. All three items were planted together with beans at the base of the corn stalks, so it could offer support to the climbing beans. 

In the U.S., 10% of all fuel for cars comes from corn, according to Corteva, which said that more than 40% of the corn produced is turned into ethanol. A significant portion of the remaining 60% of the corn is used to feed livestock. Britannica reports corn comprises the third largest source of plant-based food in the world and some of the top ways it is used for human consumption are as corn oil, fermented into alcoholic beverages, and as corn flour.

Of the countries that grow corn, the U.S. is at the top of the list, per Corteva. It is also the largest consumer of corn, according to data from 2020 to 2021 analyzed by Statista — followed by China, the European Union, Brazil and Mexico. 

Corn has many uses in America

"If you build it, they will come," is a famous line from the movie "Field of Dreams" during which Kevin Costner's character mows down part of his Iowan corn field to create a baseball field. Not only is Iowa the home of the most famous corn field, it is also the number one grower of corn in the U.S. (via Crop Prophet), followed by Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana.

Farms in Iowa produced about 2.58 billion bushels of corn for grain, according to Iowa Corn. Much of Iowa's corn crop is used for ethanol, which the site says is the top producer for ethanol production. Corn has a long history in Iowa, with it being grown there for about 1,000 years by American Indians, per the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

While most Americans think of sweet corn that is perfect for roasting and eating, it only makes up 1% of the corn raised in the U.S. (via Iowa Corn). About 99% of the corn grown in Iowa is called field corn and is used for corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil, and corn syrup for human consumption. However, most of the field corn crop is used to feed livestock, for ethanol production and for manufactured goods.

So, the next time you drive past a corn field, you'll know that it has an important role to play in fueling humans, animals and your car.