Farmers will harvest more corn than wheat this year in Kansas, according to Dan Piller at the Des Moines Register — and this is a trend that’s changing the state’s traditional ag identity. Even crop-stressing record heat hasn’t put a damper on the maize bonanza.
When I lived in Iowa, I always liked watching the crops change as I drove west. The greens of corn and soybeans would give way to golden wheat (and sunflowers, when I was lucky) as the land got drier. It wasn’t real diversity, but at least it was different, a recognition that different land calls for different crops. Drought-resistant transgenes and increased irrigation — driven by demand for corn — have changed that. Of course it’s not just Kansas; Nebraska and other dry-land regions have also upped their corn production.
Far be it from me to say one monoculture is better than another, but it’s yet another sign that we’re moving in exactly the wrong direction: toward less diversity, rather than more.