Corn is believed to be the first agricultural crop grown in North Dakota, grown nearly 300 years ago by the native people. Though this may be the case, only recently as corn become a viable cash crop for farms located in North Dakota. Improved genetics have allowed this important food and biofuel crop to be grown further north, where shorter summers pose a significant issue for a crop with such a long growing season. With the continued development of corn as a feedstock for ethanol and ethanol becoming a more prevalent renewable fuel source, the farming of corn has become a better cash crop than it historically had been.
There are several uses for corn grown in North Dakota – processing for corn oil, corn syrup, livestock feed and ethanol. Most commonly, North Dakota corn is used for ethanol and livestock feed. The opening of the Tharaldson Ethanol plant in Casselton, ND and several other plants across the sate provides another opportunity to improve price, by not having to ship to distant markets. This has provided increased revenues and demand for North Dakota corn growers.