Corn harvest running late 11.25.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Start off with a late spring planting season, follow that up with a cool summer and end it all with a wet fall.front.corn_harvest.jpg

The outcome is obvious: There will still be a fair amount of wet corn standing as November comes to a close.

Grower John Gould said his harvest was complete by Nov. 5 a year ago, but this time around he figures he’s about three weeks behind average.

“It’s a combination of later planting, a cool July, early October frost and a wetter, cooler October overall,” said Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension Service agriculture agent in Fulton County.

LaBarge said that as of Sunday, harvest in Ohio was estimated at 76 percent complete, which was 17 percent behind last year and 15 percent behind the five-year average.

Mike Score of Lenawee’s Extension Service is hearing similar reports, along with the expectation of higher drying costs. Corn wasn’t near the preferred level of moisture for harvest.

“Corn moisture in the early part of the harvest was in the 25 to 28 percent range,” LaBarge said. “The warmer November and somewhat drier conditions have knocked five to six percentage off and we are in the 17 to 22 percent range.”

For storage, moisture in the kernels should be at 15 percent.

He’s heard about some fields remaining in the upper 20s, and even that would sound good to area grower Terry Wood. He’s bringing in corn that’s at 30 percent and more. Drying costs could reduce profits by up to 30 cents for every bushel harvested, he said.

Input costs are higher than ever this year, Gould added.

It’s not all bad news. Gould and Wood are both happy with their yields.

“Prices are up, but [increased input costs] just took it away,” Wood said. “At least we get the bushels. Don’t ever complain that your combine gets filled in the middle of the field.”

He’ll take that annoyance along with the reports of yields topping last year’s harvest by an average of 31 bushels an acre.

In Ohio, total grain production is estimated to increase 23 percent over 2008.

What it all comes down to is the typical dilemma faced by farmers, Wood says. You start to make good money through quality and yield, but something else comes along to take it away.

LaBarge said there’s at least 15 percent of the crop still standing in Ohio, and moisture isn’t the only reason.

“Part of the problem in the region is that elevators are full and storage is at a premium,” he said, “plus the added congestion from needing to dry the crop. Some elevators are open for a short time each day.”

Wood hoped to wrap up his harvest before Thanksgiving.

“We’re hoping to get it done tomorrow,” he said while watching for the fog to lift Tuesday morning, “unless it rains.”

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