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Wait on Drying vs. Harvest Debate Continues

Wait on Drying vs. Harvest Debate Continues
Decision is tougher if you don't have a dryer.

Let’s start with the assumption that you can dry your corn cheaper if you have your own dryer compared to taking it to the elevator and either taking the flat-rate dock or some combination of dock and shrinkage for excess moisture. Here’s the quandary- what if you have tailored your system around hauling straight to the elevator and don’t have your own dryer. There are a variety of reasons that might lead you in that direction, from being close to a major elevator to having a fleet of trucks able to haul straight from the field to just not investing in a dryer and storage.

Wait or harvest- Many fields are being harvested with moisture levels in the 20’s. However, it’s a tougher decision if you don’t have your own dryer.

Then comes this year. Even last week corn planted in mid -May was in the 22% to 25% moisture range in most cases. One farmer told us he hadn’t started yet because he had to haul to the elevator- he doesn’t have a dryer- and he didn’t want to take that much dock. How long can he wait?

Danny Greene, crops consultant with Greene Crop Consulting, Inc., Franklin, would say he needs to check each field. Greene has been in some fields where many stalks were failing the push test in late September simply because the plants had taken nutrients out of the stalks to finish filling the ear. Lodging and potential mechanical loss rises in those fields.

Another farmer who is combining says he’s already finding more dropped ears than he likes in some fields. His corn is non-GMO. When he tracked it down with a consultant helping him, most of the dropped ears were due to corn borer tunneling into ear shanks. However, some hybrids drop ears anyway without corn borer if they are stressed, and there was stress due to dry weather at the end of the season in many areas.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, says field drying can still proceed at a reasonable rate in October if the weather is good, but usually falls to almost no further moisture loss once the calendar rolls into November. The bottom line is to compare how much you will lose in dock starting now vs. potential loss by waiting due to dropped ears or mechanical loss. Think about losses on the last field you will get to, not just the first.
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