DES MOINES, Iowa — The federal government released its final crop report for 2012 on Friday, detailing heavy losses caused by the worst drought the United States has experienced since the 1950s.
Much of the attention focused on corn, 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 anticipated when planting was done in the spring.
The harvest 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. Farmers have been planting more corn as demand has risen with ethanol production.
While the drought eventually spread to cover two-thirds of the nation, its impact varied widely from one region of the corn belt to another. Some Iowa farmers saw decent results, while those in parts of Illinois and Indiana could only watch as plants withered and died after months of drought.