In December 2015, the U.S. Grains Council released its fifth annual Corn Harvest Quality Report. This report showed that 94 percent of U.S. corn samples were rated at U.S. grade No. 2 or better. The high quality was largely the result of a favorable corn growing season with earlier-than-normal planting; a cool, wet summer; and a warm, dry fall. The report showed that the 2015 U.S. corn crop entered the market channels with the following key characteristics:


Grade factors and moisture

  • Average test weight of 58.2 pounds per bushel (74.9 kilograms per hectoliter), with 94.2 percent within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade corn. This test weight indicates good kernel filling and maturation.
  • Low levels of broken corn and foreign material, with 98 percent within the range for U.S. No. 2 grade, indicating little cleaning will be required.
  • Low levels of total damage, with 96.1 percent within the range for U.S. No. 2 grade.
  • No observed heat damage.
  • Average elevator moisture of 15.7 percent, which will decrease the potential for stress cracking.

Chemical composition

  • Average protein concentration of 8.2 percent (dry basis).
  • High average starch concentration of 73.6 percent (dry basis), indicating good growing conditions and excellent kernel filling and maturation, which will be beneficial for wet millers.
  • Average oil concentration of 3.8 percent (dry basis).

Physical factors

  • Extremely low percentage of stress cracks and low stress crack index, which is likely due to excellent field dry-down conditions at harvest with little artificial drying.
  • High average kernel volume of 0.27 cubic centimeters.
  • 100-kernel weight average of 34.34 grams, signifying larger kernels than in previous years.
  • Lower than average kernel true density of 1.254 grams per cubic centimeter, indicating softer kernels compared to 2014 and the four-year average.
  • Whole kernel percentage, on average, of 94.9 percent, which indicates corn should have fewer broken kernels and more resistance to molds than in previous years.
  • Average percentage of horneous (hard) endosperm of 79 percent.


  • One hundred percent of the samples tested below the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) action level for aflatoxins.
  • One hundred percent of the samples tested below the FDA advisory level for deoxynivalenol (DON).

2015-16 corn crop production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report released in November 2015 estimates U.S. corn production at 346.8 million metric tons (13.654 billion bushels) in 2015-16, a 4 percent decrease in production from the record 2014-15 crop year. The United States is the top exporter of corn, responsible for an estimated 38 percent of global corn exports during the 2015-16 marketing year.