The Top 8 Most Valuable Crops Harvested in Missouri
When considering some of the most impactful states in American agriculture, Missouri is certainly on the list. This midwestern state is home to a broad variety of crops. Missouri makes a massive yearly contribution to America’s overall agriculture, and the state is home to over 90,000 farms. Two-thirds of the land in Missouri is dedicated to farming.
The United States produces a long list of crops, and Missouri plays an important role in contributing to the quantities of the States’ top agricultural products. From hay to rice to soybeans, Missouri’s crops produce billions of dollars of value.
Annually, the US Department of Agriculture releases statistics on each state’s contributions to the country’s agricultural industry. In 2022, 27,500,000 acres of Missouri land were used to produce crops. Missouri is also established for its livestock industry, though this article will just cover plants.
Read on to discover the incredible value of Missouri’s eight top crops. In 2022, Missouri produced $4.19 billion in agriculture. These are the eight most valuable crops in Missouri!
The eighth-most valuable crop in Missouri is haylage. In 2022, Missouri harvested 95,000 acres of haylage. The USDA did not release specific numbers related to the value of haylage, as it is often grouped with hay, but it appeared in the eighth spot on the annual Missouri report. Haylage growth is related intimately to hay. It’s essentially hay that is cut while younger. Haylage is wilted and offers a higher moisture content than hay which is fully developed. It’s a product that is very nutritious for horses. Young horses, as well as very old horses, benefit tremendously from the consumption of haylage.
Almost 300,000 horses reside in the state of Missouri, certainly consuming the haylage produced by the state. It’s also likely that a lot of the crop is exported out of the state to surrounding states and even out of the country. A significant amount of hay overall is exported yearly, so it’d be no surprise if haylage was a contribution to the total (as the two crops are often grouped together).
The seventh-most valuable crop in Missouri is oats. Missouri produced just over $2 million in oats in 2022, harvesting 8,000 acres of the product. It’s expected that oat planting will grow in 2023, with more acres planted than ever before. While oats are in the seventh-place spot for most valuable crops in Missouri, they make up a fairly insignificant portion of the agricultural scene in the state.
Oats are grown primarily in midwestern states that are slightly more northerly. Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa dominate the oat scene. Minnesota alone produced almost $38,000,000 worth of oats in 2022. The state harvested 140,000 acres of oats in 2022. So, comparatively, Missouri has nothing on some of the big oat-producing states! However, it’s still a ranking crop in Missouri’s farm industry.
Rice is another valuable crop in Missouri’s agricultural scene! This crop produced $191,678,000 in value in 2022. The seventh-most valuable crop produced only $2 million, while this one produced almost $200 million! 149,000 acres of rice were harvested in 2022 to produce that value. This crop has a diverse range of uses and it is commonly grown in middle America.
The largest producer of rice in the entire country is Arkansas, which neighbors Missouri to the south. Arkansas produced well over a billion dollars of rice in 2022, harvested from one million acres. Missouri is the fifth-largest producer of rice in America, behind California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and of course, Arkansas. Each year, the US grows 20 billion pounds of the product. Missouri added almost 12 million tons to the count in 2022!
In 2022, Missouri’s fifth-most valuable crop was wheat. The state harvested 410,000 acres of the crop and planted nearly 200,000 more. The wheat grown in Missouri produced over $210 million in value. Wheat is a massive American agricultural product, and despite its significant growth, Missouri didn’t even rank in the top ten of wheat production in the country.
The number-one wheat producer in 2022 was Kansas. Farmers in Kansas harvested 6,600,000 acres of the crop, which turned into just over $2 billion in value. North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Montana trailed behind Kansas as the leaders of the wheat industry in America. 35.5 million acres of wheat grow in the United States, producing around 1.65 billion bushels annually. Historically, the US grew even more wheat than it grows now! 1998 and 2008 were both record-breaking years when the US grew 2.5 billion bushels of wheat.
The fourth-most valuable crop grown in Missouri is cotton. In 2022, Missouri harvested 340,000 acres of upland cotton. It brought in $297,605,000 of value for the state. Even though Missouri produced a massive amount of cotton, it didn’t make the cut for the top three cotton-producing states. In 2022, Texas produced $1.3 billion of cotton! Georgia and Mississippi are also massive cotton producers.
Cotton is used for a long list of things. In America, a large amount of cotton is exported out of the country as a raw material and used to make textiles. A lot of the material heads over to Asia, where the textile industry is booming. Then, the United States imports finished fabrics and clothing back from the countries that it once exported cotton to! It’s a fascinating, cyclical industry that produces over $20 billion for the United States annually.
The third-most valuable crop grown in Missouri is hay. While haylage made the list as the eighth-most valuable crop grown in Missouri, the state produces far more hay! In 2022, there were 3,180,000 acres of harvested hay grown in Missouri. The majority of that was not alfalfa, though Missouri did grow 130,000 alfalfa hay acres. The 3 million acres of hay produced a total of $737,882,000 in value for the state. About $57 million of that came from alfalfa hay.
Missouri is a top-ranking state in the US when it comes to hay production. When considering only alfalfa hay, Missouri doesn’t even make the top ten states, but if alfalfa hay is excluded, Missouri comes in the second-place spot. The only state that produced more value in hay in 2022 was Texas. In 2022, there were 4,190,000 acres of hay harvested, producing over $1 billion in value. Annually, the United States produces over 250 billion pounds of hay. Missouri and Texas are incredibly important contributors to that total!
Even though Missouri produces massive amounts of hay annually, there are two crops that bring even more value to the state. The second-most valuable crop grown in Missouri is corn! In 2022, 3,110,000 acres of grain corn were planted. These 3 million acres reared 500 million bushels and produced almost $3.5 billion in value. A small amount of silage corn was also planted in 2022 (150,000 acres), but the value of these acres was not measured by the USDA.
Despite producing substantial quantities of corn, Missouri was the ninth-largest corn producer in 2022. Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska took the top three spots for the production of grain corn. Iowa produced almost $17 billion from the crop in 2022, harvesting over 12 million acres. Corn is the most important crop in the American agricultural industry and is used for a wide number of purposes. 13% of the corn grown in America is exported, while the rest is used to feed livestock as well as humans!
Finally, the most valuable crop grown in Missouri is soybeans. Soybeans are one of the two most important crops in the American agricultural industry (second to corn, of course). The two crops together total $150.9 billion in annual value, which is more than half of the value of the entire American agricultural industry. Soybeans in Missouri produced just below $4 billion in value in 2022. Over 6 million acres were harvested in Missouri in 2022.
Missouri ranked sixth place in 2022 for its production of soybeans. One might think that $4 billion in value would be enough to garner a higher ranker, but Missouri landed behind Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Indiana. Illinois, the biggest soybean producer in America, produced just under $8 billion in value. Soybeans were harvested from just under 11 million acres. And to be clear, soybeans aren’t the most valuable crop to Illinois! The state grew almost $15 billion worth of grain corn in 2022.
Missouri, overall, has an exceptionally valuable agricultural scene. Its climate equips the farmers in the state with the ability to grow many of America’s most valuable crops. From cotton to corn, Missouri produces some exceptional agricultural products and the state plays an important role in the country’s farming industry.
While this article focuses solely on the crops that provide value to the state, it’s important to note Missouri’s bustling livestock industry. Missouri is a leader in America’s beef cow industry, ranking third below Texas and Oklahoma. So while an understanding of the valuable crops of the state is a vital portion of making sense of Missouri’s agricultural scene, it doesn’t tell the entire story.