In many areas, farmers are surprised at the better-than-expected corn and soybean yields they are binning – thanks largely to late-season rains. In other areas, corn remains wet, harvest is far behind average and growers must decide whether to let corn dry in the field or incur drying costs.
In its weekly Crop Progress report, USDA’s 18-state total for mature corn is 90 percent, just 4 points behind average. In the following states, maturity ranges from 88 percent in South Dakota to 94 percent in Iowa and is 1 to 6 points behind average.
However, only 28 percent of the nation’s corn crop is harvested, compared with an average of 47 percent at this point in the season. Forty-nine percent of soybeans have been harvested, against a 60-percent average.
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Wait or harvest wet and dry your corn?
Iowa State University (ISU) Extension research indicates that in hot, dry conditions, unharvested corn may dry down at a rate of 1.0 points of moisture per day. During fall’s wet, cool weather, the dry-down rate drops to about 0.3 points of moisture per day.
Allowing corn to dry down in the field can save on the cost of artificially drying the crop, but it also can delay harvest and result in additional stalk lodging and potential ear loss, pointed out Steven Johnson, ISU farm and ag business management specialist.
Cash-flow constraints and lack of adequate on-farm storage are two reasons why some farmers may choose to harvest at above 15 percent moisture and deliver corn at harvest. Lack of adequate on-farm drying capacity or bin space are other possible reasons for making cash sales, Johnson said.
“Commercial storage requires that the corn be adjusted to 14 percent moisture to be placed under warehouse receipt. Farmers may choose to deliver corn above 15 percent moisture, accepting a discounted price but avoiding additional shrink losses as well as drying costs.”
To compare immediate cash sales with a moisture discount versus drying on the farm, Iowa State University developed an online decision tool and it's located on the Ag Decision Maker site - Corn Drying and Shrink Comparison, file A2-32.