Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I was curious how the 2011 drought in Texas translated into crop yield statistics. I happened to pick on soybeans to start with, and generated the graph above, which shows whole-US and Texas soybean yields. Sure enough the drought has caused a 30% or so drop in Texas yield in 2011 versus the 2000-2010 average. However, for the US as a whole, 2011 is well within the normal range of variation.
However, the graph raises a larger question: over the last sixty years, US yields have been generally increasing (consistent with the usual technologically driven yield improvements in most crops in most places). However, Texas yields have been basically flat the entire time. What's up with that?
Theories are solicited in comments.
FWIW, here's the USDA's county level yield map for soybeans in 2010 - clearly Texas is well outside the sweet spot for growing soybeans, but there is production along the Gulf coast.
And here's the acreage planted: