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Stats Can: Corn for grain: the world’s top cereal crop

Stats Can: Corn: Canada's third most valuable crop

     By Marie-Andrée Hamel and Erik Dorff    2014-03-18

Corn for grain: the world’s top cereal crop

When it comes to cereal crop production around the world, corn is king. This may come as a surprise to many. Anyone who has ever seen the endless seas of golden wheat on the Canadian Prairies might think that this lynchpin of Canadian agriculture is the number one cereal crop.

The same might be thought of rice and the landscape of paddies stretching as far as the eye can see across Asia. But instead, the most produced cereal crop worldwide is actually corn (also known as maize), a cereal native to the Americas. It outstrips both rice and wheat in terms of global production (Table 1).


Table 1 
World and Canadian production of major grains and oilseeds, 2011
Table summary
This table displays the results of World and Canadian production of major grains and oilseeds. The information is grouped by Commodity (appearing as row headers), World, Canada, Share of total and World position, calculated using Metric tonnes, Percent and Rank units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Commodity World Canada Share of total World position
metric tonnes percent rank
Maize 885,289,935 10,688,700 1.2 11
Rice, paddy 722,559,584 ... ... ...
Wheat 701,395,334 25,261,400 3.6 7
Soybeans 262,037,569 4,246,300 1.6 7
Barley 133,049,075 7,755,700 5.8 7
Canola 62,546,641 14,164,500 22.6 1
Sorghum 58,583,460 ... ... ...
Millet 27,226,548 ... ... ...
Oats 22,676,189 2,997,100 13.2 2
Rye 13,162,017 194,700 1.5 10

Maize or corn for grainNote1 is the number one cereal crop worldwide with 885.3 million tonnes produced in 2011 according to the FAONote2. The top producer was the United States with 313.9 million tonnes or 35.5% of global production. The U.S. was followed by China which produced 192.8 million tonnes (21.8% of world production). Canada placed 11th in world production of corn with 10.7 million tonnes of grain corn produced in 2011 (Table 2).

Table 2 
Top grain corn producing nations, 2011
Table summary
This table displays the results of Top grain corn producing nations. The information is grouped by Rank (appearing as row headers), Country, Production and Share of world production, calculated using Metric tonnes and Percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Rank Country Production Share of world production
metric tonnes percent
  World 885,289,935 100.0
1 United States of America 313,948,610 35.5
2 China, mainland 192,781,000 21.8
3 Brazil 55,660,415 6.3
4 Argentina 23,799,830 2.7
5 Ukraine 22,837,900 2.6
6 India 21,760,000 2.5
7 Mexico 17,635,417 2.0
8 Indonesia 17,629,033 2.0
9 France 15,913,300 1.8
10 Romania 11,717,591 1.3
11 Canada 10,688,700 1.2
12 South Africa 10,360,000 1.2
13 Italy 9,752,592 1.1
14 Nigeria 9,180,270 1.0
15 Hungary 7,992,000 0.9
16 Philippines 6,971,221 0.8
17 Russian Federation 6,962,440 0.8
18 Egypt 6,876,473 0.8
19 Serbia 6,479,564 0.7
20 Ethiopia 6,069,413 0.7

In Canada, over 32,300 farms reported planting 1.63 million hectares of corn (corn for grain, corn for silage and sweet corn) according to the 2011 Census of Agriculture. The value of farm cash receipts for grain corn alone reached $2.08 billion in 2011, ranking it as the third most valuable crop in Canada, after canola and wheat.Note3

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