It has been rare in the last few decades for a new crop to win a place in the state's top ten listing in terms of value.
But corn has made the leap.
That's because of the high value of the crop in 2011 for use in silage and as a grain, reports USDA. Corn was the 9th biggest income crop that year with $109 million in value, ODA the agency notes.
"We've had a sizable increase in acreage the past few years in Oregon plus a nice increase in price," says Chris Mertz, state director of the Oregon field office of USDA. "Add that together and it shows that the value of corn for grain and silage being sold has increased tremendously."
Statistics generated by Oregon State University and NASS confirm this phenomenal growth. In 2000, the amount of corn for grain harvested was 5.2 million bushels and 29,000 acres in the state.
By 2009, the crop jumped to 8.6 million bushels and 36,500 acres. By 2010, it had grown to 10.1 million bushels and 45,000 acres.
Last year, production peaked at 14 million bushels and 57,700 acres.
Corn grown for silage has increased just slightly in the past dozen years. The amount harvested last year in Oregon was 618,000 bushels off of 21,750 acres.
With Midwestern corn crops withering in the field under severe drought conditions, the value of Pacific Northwest corn is expected to continue to climb in value and acreage in 2012 and 2013.
Demands for corn by livestock operations as well as an ethanol feedstock drive the market, which appears to be lucrative for the PNW.
"In Oregon, most of the corn is being sold for feed to help support our dairies and feedlots," notes Mertz. "Feed costs have gone up tremendously for all livestock producers in the country.
"Oregon is no exception. Right now it appears to be much cheaper to grow field corn locally or source it locally than typically hauling it in from the Midwest."
Early August corn prices hit a record $8 a bushel, and are expected to continue to rise.