A publication of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

The Value of Indiana Agriculture Production

Tanya Hall

597 million bushels of corn. 49 types of vegetables and melons. 102 million dozens of eggs. 3.7 billion pounds of milk. 12,450 gallons of maple syrup. These are just a handful of the agriculture products Indiana produced in 2012.

Who Completes the Survey?

In late December 2012, 3 million questionnaires were sent out to agricultural producers throughout the nation. Similar to the national Census, multiple efforts were used to solicit responses, including mail, Internet, phone and in-person visits.

The USDA defines a farm as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year. Thus, farming operations of all sizes and types were sought to participate.

In May 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) released the results from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. This article, concentrating on agricultural production and its sales value, serves as the third and final installment of a series exploring Indiana’s Census of Agriculture results. (The first article focused on highlights from the census and the second article looked at farm financials.)

The Census of Agriculture was based on the 2012 production year, so it is worth noting the weather conditions and their impact on agriculture production. This is especially true since a drought gripped much of the crop-producing states in 2012 —severely impacting corn production and having a moderate to severe impact on soybeans. However, row crops were not the only sectors impacted by the drought. Subsequently, at the national level in 2012, agricultural sales were at record levels for both crop and livestock sectors. Nationally and statewide, farmers had strong growth in their farm income (as well as expenses) from crops and livestock since 2007.1

One reason why the Census of Agriculture results are eagerly anticipated is that the broad survey attempts to capture all agricultural sectors. While not all results can be reported due to confidentiality concerns, the results yield very informative data on sectors that often receive little attention or fanfare through other NASS surveys. With this 5-year census, we can discover the diversity of agricultural production in Indiana and its trends over time. In 2012 , Indiana was able to report on 52 production sectors, nine more than in 2007.

We find that over time, Indiana has begun to diversify its agricultural production offerings, but quantifying these new sectors in a timely manner can be challenging. We know that Indiana grows more than the standard portfolio of corn, soybeans, cows, hogs, chickens and eggs simply because berries, nuts, bedding plants, horses and more can be purchased from farmers markets, local producers or through other means.

To simplify the interpretation of the state’s numerous agricultural sectors, this article will break the results into four major categories: grains, row crops and forage; fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts; livestock; and nursery, floriculture and woody crops. In Table 1 through Table 4, a fairly detailed list of each category’s production volume for 2012 and its percent change from 2007 are listed, with sales value and percent change also included when available.

Grains/Other Row Crops and Forage

Corn and soybeans clearly dominate this category in both production volume and market value received in 2012. The third-highest row crop was popcorn—in fact, Indiana is ranked second in popcorn production in the nation. Barley had the most gains in the past five years with its exponential growth in production (9,890.5 percent) and sales (977.1 percent). However, one must keep in mind that the 2007 comparison figures were rather small and 2012 production numbers were only 0.01 percent of corn production volume. Since 2007, at least five of the row crops experienced declines in production volume, which may be attributed to the drought in 2012, crop rotation patterns and/or a change in commodities planted.

Table 1: Indiana’s Grains/Row Crops and Forage Production, 2007 to 2012

  Quantity, 2012 (1,000 units) Change, 2007-2012 Value, 2012 ($1,000s) Change, 2007-2012
Grains/Row Crops
Corn (bu.) 597,271 -37.8% $4,071,150 30.7%
Soybeans (bu.)  218,928 3.7% $2,956,767 66.8%
Popcorn (lbs.)  151,729 -31.3% - -
Other Grains (bu.)  20,668 -1.3% $46,013 48.3%
Wheat (bu.)  19,857 0.8% $140,114 40.6%
Mint for Oil (lbs.)  572 33.6% - -
Sorghum (bu.)  439 -45.9% $3,294 -0.2%
Oats (bu.)  271 -32.9% - -
Barley (bu.)  49 9,890.5% $517 977.1%
Sunflower Seeds (lbs.)  35 N/A - -
Rye (bu.)  27 11.9% - -
Emmer and Spelt (bu.)  24 344.3% - -
Tobacco (lbs.)  (D) N/A $7,653 16.0%
Forage Crops
Corn for Silage (tons)  1,775 N/A - -
Forage, All Hay and All Haylage, Grass Silage and Greenchop (dry tons)  1,198 -8.3% $76,467 18.8%
Sorghum for Silage (tons)  11 84.9% - -

Note: (D) represents suppressed data, (bu.) represents bushels, N/A indicates that a calculation cannot be made due to missing 2007 data, and "-" represents the inability to report due to lack of data.
Source: IBRC, using 2012 Census of Agriculture data

Fruits, Vegetables, Beans and Nuts

Indiana continues to grow its vegetable offerings, as witnessed by a 6.3 percent increase in production and a 31.2 percent increase in sales value since 2007. In total, 49 different varieties of vegetables and melons were planted within Indiana during 2012. Nearly 80 percent of the acreage was concentrated to five crops: tomatoes (27.6 percent), sweet corn (16 percent), watermelons (14.6 percent), snap beans (10.3 percent) and potatoes (9.4 percent). The overall increase in acreage devoted to vegetables and melons was mostly attributed to an increase in potato, sweet corn and tomato acreage.

The non-citrus fruit category was heavily dominated by apples. Approximately 95 percent of the non-citrus acreage was in apples (60 percent), grapes (20.5 percent) or peaches (14.2 percent). The overall decline in acreage was largely due to fewer acres being planted in apples, followed distantly by peaches. There was a healthy growth in acreage planted in grapes. In the berries category, blueberries and strawberries comprised 63 percent and 24 percent of the berry acreage, respectively, in Indiana during 2012. Since 2007, acreage devoted to strawberries has declined 31.3 percent—serving as the sole source of the overall drop in berry acreage.

One might not necessarily think that Indiana produces dry edible beans, but the state produced 71,000 pounds of such beans in 2012. Unfortunately, the data do not allow comparison to 2007 to see if this figure is increasing or decreasing over time.

Thanks to the state’s prolific population of trees, Indiana has the ability to grow nut-bearing trees. Approximately 370 acres were devoted to this production. Three types of nuts dominate the nuts category—led by the “other nuts” category (39 percent), followed by walnuts and pecans each capturing 29 percent of the category total. The drop in total nut acreage is primarily due to a nearly 50 percent decline in “other nuts” acreage.

Table 2: Indiana’s Fruits, Vegetables, Beans and Nuts Production, 2007 to 2012

Value, 2012
Vegetables Harvested for Sale (acres)  37,747 6.3% $104,411 32.6%
Non-Citrus Fruit (acres)  3,017 -9.8% - -
Berries (acres)  1,171 -6.2% $3,898 N/A
Dry Edible Beans, Excluding Limas (100 lbs.)  710 N/A - -
Nuts (acres)  369 -25.9% - -

Note: "-" represents the inability to report due to lack of data, and N/A indicates a calculation cannot be made due to missing 2007 data.
Source: IBRC, using 2012 Census of Agriculture data


The data for livestock contains a few more measures—primarily to differentiate between the inventory and the actual amount of livestock sold within a given timeframe. The reported sales value is then given for the sold livestock.

In 2012, poultry production dominated in the state, thanks to the large quantities of eggs produced. Poultry production is very vertically integrated, thus sales values are usually suppressed. Similarly, the state is the number one duck producer in the country; however, its data is always suppressed due to a limited number of producers. Another major livestock production category is hogs and pigs, which has experienced a 2.1 percent inventory growth and a 10.8 percent increase in sales since 2007.

Due to the 1,700 dairy operations with sales, 3.7 billion pounds of milk were produced in 2012, an increase of 10.9 percent in the past five years. As expected, the state has seen a decline in cattle and calves production, due to a loss of 1,000 cattle operations since 2007, continuing a downward trend seen since the early 2000s.

The livestock category with the strongest production growth in the past five years has been honey production with 41.2 percent growth. The largest decline was experienced among aquaculture operations (61.1 percent); however, since its data source is the 2013 Census of Aquaculture with a comparison year of 2005, it is unknown if the loss in operations occurred in the late 2000s or in more recent years.

Table 3: Indiana’s Livestock Production, 2007 to 2012

Livestock Inventory, 2012 Change, 2007-2012 Quantity Sold, 2012 Change, 2007-2012 Value, 2012 ($1,000s) Change, 2007-2012
Poultry, All (Including Eggs)  147,081,116 5.6% - - $1,164,199 31.2%
   Broilers (1,000 head)  6,239 12.7% 41,579 12.2% - -
   Layers (1,000 head)  25,587 5.6% 10,097 -13.9% - -
   Turkeys (1,000 head)  5,085 -14.8% 13,643 1.1% - -
   Pullets for Laying Flock (1,000 head)  7,567 9.2% 16,769 34.1% - -
   Eggs (dozens)  102,603,617 6.2% - - - -
Hogs and Pigs (head)  3,747,352 2.1% 10,551,241 10.8% $1,273,099 30.7%
Milk from Cows (1,000 lbs.)  3,739,000 10.9% 3,713,000 11% $659,314 N/A
Cattle and Calves (head)  821,265 -6.2% 665,418 4.3% $522,694 14.5%
Honey (lbs.)  593,489 41.2% - - $1,256 N/A
Wool Production (lbs.)  255,048 7.8% - - $129 N/A
Horses and Ponies  88,331 N/A 11,110 N/A $23,651 N/A
Sheep and Lambs Inventory  52,169 6.4% 33,975 1.9% $6,128 N/A
Goats  38,632 -18.0% 18,665 N/A $2,710 N/A
Miscellaneous Livestock  24,409 N/A 34,493 N/A $5,552 N/A
Mules, Burros and Donkeys  5,101 16.2% 711 49.4% $248 N/A
Aquaculture (farms)*  7 -61.1% - - $2,183 N/A

* Aquaculture data was taken from the 2013 Census of Aquaculture, which uses 2005 as its comparison year.
Note: "-" represents the inability to report due to lack of data, and N/A indicates a calculation cannot be made due to missing 2007 data.
Source: IBRC, using 2012 Census of Agriculture data

Nursery, Floriculture and Woody Crops

The state’s nursery, floriculture and woody crops are often overlooked. It’s difficult to ascertain the number of unique operations since many often grow multiple lines of nursery products. Therefore, the Census of Agriculture measures the production size by square footage devoted to each crop.

The most prominent nursery crop was sod, with 2,600 acres devoted to its production, a 51.6 percent decline since 2007. Bedding and garden plants, including hanging baskets, were the second most prolific crop and also had the largest sales value. Rounding out the top three were greenhouse vegetables and fresh herbs, which experienced a 93.3 percent growth since 2007. The crop that has had the most explosive growth in the past five years was vegetable seeds (246.4 percent), which may be due to the resurgence in gardens and local food production.

Beyond nursery and floriculture crops, the state also has woody products and by-products. The state has seen a 52.2 percent increase in maple syrup production, equating to almost 12,500 gallons and $454,000 in sales. Real Christmas tree production has declined 21.1 percent in the past five years, with a loss of 30 Christmas tree operations. Likewise, it appears that the demand for short rotation woody crops (such as poplars and willow trees) has waned over the years since production and quantity sold has declined sharply.

Table 4: Indiana’s Nursery, Floriculture and Woody Crops Production, 2007 to 2012

Change, 2007-2012 Quantity Sold, 2012 Change, 2007-2012 Value, 2012
Maple Syrup (gallons) 12,449 52.2% - - $454
Christmas Trees Harvested (acres, trees) 2,505 -21.1% $89,252 -55.1% -
Short Rotation Woody Crops (acres)  434 -86.0% $104 -73.6%  -
Sod Harvested (sq. ft)  112,907,520 -51.6% - - $7,760
Bedding and Garden Plants; Hanging Baskets (sq. ft)  22,539,612 -9.6% - - $64,041
Greenhouse Vegetables and Fresh Herbs (sq. ft)  10,011,765 93.3% - - $5,405
Nursery Stock Crops (sq. ft)  9,901,040 -33.4% - - $28,443
Flower Seeds (sq. ft) 9,321,840 N/A - - $1,933
Greenhouse Fruits and Berries (sq. ft) 770,388 N/A - - (D)
Vegetable Seeds (sq. ft)  617,888 246.4%     $35
Aquatic Plants (sq. ft)  369,263 12.7% - - $435
Cuttings, Seedlings, Liners and Plugs (sq. ft)*  102,799 -68.3% - - $2,255
Vegetable Transplants (sq. ft)  75,724 65.8%     $779
Bulbs, Corms, Rhizomes and Tubers (sq. ft)  (D) N/A - -  (D)
Tobacco Transplants (sq. ft)  (D) N/A - -  (D)

*Cuttings, etc. acreage was suppressed; however, square footage under cover was reported. Thus, reported volume is less than actual.
Note: (D) represents suppressed data, "-" represents the inability to report due to lack of data, and N/A indicates a calculation cannot be made due to missing 2007 data. For all categories, the 2007-2012 change in value data were unavailable due to suppression.
Source: IBRC, using 2012 Census of Agriculture data


The state produces a wide range of agricultural products, going well beyond the traditional commodities of corn, soybeans, cattle and poultry. As the demand for locally grown foods and products continues to flourish, Indiana may continue to witness an increasingly diverse array of agricultural products. It will likely always have its traditional commodities, but farmers and other agricultural operators are savvy enough to adapt their business practices to capture new markets.

If you would like to learn more about the nation’s agriculture industry, visit and explore the numerous tables and maps available at various geographic levels.


  1. For more information on this topic, be sure to visit the second installment of this series: “Farm Financials,” InContext, September-October 2014,