To Learn About Crop Production Records For 2019 

On January 25, 2020

To Learn About Crop Production Records For 2019 

The year 2019 was one for the record books for some Pennsylvania crops, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production Summary.  Although falling short of the record for corn, a new one was set for wheat while soybeans tied previous yield records. Extension Agronomist Zach Larson summarizes the data below. 

The 2019 average wheat yield in the state was 73 bushels per acre, which surpasses the prior record of 72, set in 2017.  In 2018, the estimate was 65 bushels with a five-year average from 2015 to 2019 of approximately 69 bushels per acre.  The national average was approximately 52 bushels per acre, up from the 2017 and 2018 estimates of approximately 46 and 48 bushels, respectively. 

Soybeans yields matched the state record of 49 bushels per acre set in 2013 and 2014 and was over four bushels higher than the 2018 estimate of 44.5.  The average soybean yield in Pennsylvania over the past five years is approximately 46 bushels per acre.  The national estimate of 47 bushels per acre were down from the 2017 and 2018 estimates of approximately 50 bushels.

While not breaking any records, Pennsylvania’s 2019 per acre corn yield of 153 bushels was well above average.  It places third behind 2017’s record of 161 and just behind the 2014 average of 154.  The average yield between 2015 to 2019 is 146 bushels per acre.  Nationwide estimates were 168 bushels per acre, down approximately 9 bushels from 2017 and 2018.

For many areas of the state, growing conditions were conducive to record yields in 2019.  Most places received adequate precipitation throughout the summer with few periods of extreme heat, which certainly helped last year’s corn and soybean crop.  The weather was also cooperative for wheat harvest, with many growers having both yield and high-quality grain last year.  Most weather-related issues in 2019 seemed to be with delayed corn planting due to wet conditions in a few regions across the state.  Fortunately, for most areas of the state, the extreme spring and summer rains that wreaked havoc across the county were not an issue in Pennsylvania.

Our Crop Conditions Tour at the end of August showed that corn and soybeans were in good shape going into the fall and the corn and soybean reports I heard from across the state varied from above average to farm records.  The consistently good conditions observed throughout the 2019 season were also reflected in yield forecasts that were within a few bushels of the final estimates.  This is a quite a contrast to 2018, where the final average corn yield was 20 bushels less than the September forecast, reflecting the dismal conditions that came on in the fall of that year. The USDA estimates are obtained from surveying approximately 79,000 farmers across the country in December.  

 To Train Your Produce Harvesters and Handlers In Food Safety

Penn State Extension has developed curriculum materials for Plain Sect (Amish, Mennonite) growers to help them meet training requirements established in the federal Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.


IMAGE: Penn State Extension

The educational materials are aimed at accommodating those Amish produce growers who do not prefer computer or other electronic training materials and are designed to be presented in a way that reflects their unique farming practices and learning preferences. Penn State Extension estimates that more than half of all vegetables grown in Pennsylvania are produced by Plain Sect growers.


The Food Safety Modernization Act — often referred to as FSMA — requires covered produce farms to have training programs in place that teach harvesters and handlers how to comply with standards set by the law.


The curriculum materials consist of two main resources: the FSMA Produce Grower Training Slide Set and the Training Flip Chart for Amish Harvesters and Handlers of Fresh Produce.


The Grower Training Slide Set is a reusable printed form of the Produce Safety Alliance slide set, in three-ring binders, that was created with the intent of being presented along with the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Manual, according to Luke LaBorde, Penn State professor of food science. The grower manual is available for ordering at the Produce Safety Alliance web site.


“Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these slide set books are available at no cost except postage,” he said. He added that there is a limit of 20 books when ordering. To place an order, email LaBorde at for a code and instructions. 


The slide set books include the following sections: “Introduction to Produce Safety,” “Worker Health, Hygiene and Training,” “Soil Amendments,” “Wildlife, Domesticated Animals and Land Use,” “Agricultural Water — Production Water, Agricultural Water and Post-Harvest Water,” “Postharvest Handling and Sanitation,” and “How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan.”


The Training Flip Chart is a durable, reusable 44-page product that was created with small-scale Plain Sect growers in mind, LaBorde explained. It includes more than 35 professionally drawn images that reflect Amish-centric growing activities and farm food safety good agricultural practices.


“The FSMA Produce Safety Rule requires covered produce farms to have training programs in place that teach harvesters and handlers basic hygiene and sanitary practices for preventing produce contamination,” said Laborde. “The material covered in this flip chart meets the worker training requirements established in this regulation.”


The Training Flip Charts are available for a nominal fee to cover printing and distribution costs.


For more information, or to order these educational materials, go to Penn State Extension’s Amish Farm Food Safety Curriculum Materials website or contact LaBorde at 814-863-2298 or