Which U.S. State Produces The Most Corn?

Recently, the TikTok user @recesstherapy rocked the internet when they interviewed a young, corn cob-wielding boy that has come to be known as the Corn Kid. In the viral clip, the Corn Kid, who, as NPR tells us, is actually a South Dakotan child named Tariq, eloquently expresses his love of sweet corn, declaring that he simply cannot imagine a more beautiful thing than the juicy, buttery lump with knobs.

Of course, everyone enjoys a perfectly cooked cob of corn, but the kernelled crop has a nearly limitless number of uses. For instance, you can mash it into a dough, which can then be used to make perfect corn tortillas for your next taco night. In addition, when exposed to heat, certain corn kernels explode to become popcorn, which can be found in microwaves and movie theaters everywhere.

While the king of corn himself might live in South Dakota, it is, in fact, another Midwestern state that actually stands at the center of the corn universe. This region's consistent place at the top of the corn production charts has even earned it the unofficial nickname The Corn State (via State Symbols USA).

Iowa, the undisputed corn champion

According to Statista, between 2021 and 2022, out of the unbelievable global corn production total of over 2.6 trillion pounds, around 864 billion pounds were made in the United States, or nearly 1/3 of the total. In 2021, Iowa alone produced nearly 143 billion pounds of corn, per the United States Department of Agriculture. (The Iowa Corn tells us that a bushel of corn is equal to 56 pounds.)

The association's website explains that the state has the perfect conditions for corn production since it has a long growing season and receives considerable rainfall. Additionally, Iowa has fertile soil, which is only made more productive by the overabundance of waste produced by its large livestock population.

Corn isn't the only agricultural area in which Iowa claims the top spot. The Des Moines Register tells us that the state led the nation in both pork and egg production in 2021 and, in the same year, was the soybean production runner-up to Illinois. Agriculture is an inextricably part of Hawkeye society; Iowa Farmer Today, citing a 2017 USDA census, explains that almost 1/5 of the state's population is employed in the agricultural sector.

How is Iowa corn used?

Though Tariq, TikTok's famous Corn Kid, is enjoying corn on the cob in his breakout video, sweet corn is far from the most commonly produced variety of the crop. Statista reveals that the average American consumer ate 4.4 pounds of sweet corn in 2021. Obviously, this is nowhere near the national total corn production.

According to Iowa Corn, the vast majority of corn grown in the state — as much as 99% of the total crop yield — is a variety generally known as field corn. Though you're not going to enjoy a buttered cob of field corn, it still appears in your diet in the form of cereals, corn syrups, and oils. However, that still represents a relatively small percentage of the crop's usage. Iowa Corn goes on to explain that well over 50% of the state's corn supply is turned into ethanol, a renewable fuel source, and over 40% of the annual corn crop goes toward feeding livestock.