Corn Storage Issues
Corn storage availability does not appear to be as large of an issue at grain elevators this fall, as it has been in recent years. High demand for corn usage and lower grain carryover stocks has probably freed-up more commercial grain storage for the 2006 corn crop. However, there are still localized situations of very tight grain storage, and some grain elevators have become more restrictive on grain storage options for producers. As a result, some producers will be relying on temporary grain storage in machine sheds older grain bins, outdoor cement slabs, etc. to temporarily store grain that will be fed or sold at a later date. Producers need to plan for proper aeration of any corn on the farm that will be placed in temporary storage more than a few days to avoid significant storage losses. The dollar loss from corn storage problems can be significant, if the storage problems are not properly addressed in a timely fashion, and the corn is damaged prior to sale.
Producers are reminded to keep farm safety in mind for their families, their employees and themselves as they finish up the 2006 harvest season. Late fall is a key time for farm accidents, due to the shorter day length, and the extra stress of trying to finish up fall field work before winter weather conditions arrive. The general public also needs to take extra caution around slow-moving farm machinery and trucks when driving on state and county highways during the fall harvest season in farm-country, especially early in the morning and in the late afternoon. A little extra caution can go a long way in preventing a tragic farm or traffic accident on rural highways in the fall season.
Corn Harvest Nearly Completed
Less than 30% of the corn remained to be harvested in most areas of south central and southwest Minnesota as of Oct. 23, which is well ahead of normal harvest progress for late October. The dry weather pattern that has existed during most of October has allowed for a very timely harvest season for most producers.
There is still over half of the corn remaining to be harvested in some parts of southeastern Minnesota, which has received more rainfall this fall. Harvest kernel moisture has continued to drop, with most recent corn being harvested at 14-17% moisture. This has allowed growers to place much of the later harvested corn directly into storage without additional drying, or to sell corn directly out of the field without moisture deductions. The natural dry-down of the corn in the field is saving most producers $30-40/acre or more in reduced corn drying costs. The reduced need for corn drying has also assisted with the rapid completion of corn harvest.
Variable Corn Yields
As we wrap up the 2006 corn harvest, the one constant factor has been a wide variability of corn yields for most growers in southern Minnesota. Corn yields are generally 10-15% below the record-setting 2005 corn yields in the region, with much more variability than 2005 yields, due to hot, dry weather conditions this past summer. The yields have been somewhat lower and even more variable in portions of the region that were extremely dry in July and August, and in localities that were impacted by severe wind and hail storms in August and September. Most whole-field corn yields have been reported from 145-185 bu./acre, which is above average in most instances, but below the 175-200 bu./acre average corn yields for most growers in 2005.
The better than average corn yields in many areas of southern Minnesota in 2006 are the result of earlier than normal planting dates, excellent available corn hybrids, some very good early season weather and moisture patterns, good levels of stored soil moisture, fairly good conditions in late summer and early fall for the corn to mature and dry down and very good management by growers. Regions that didn’t have all these factors working together in 2006 didn’t have the same results with this year’s corn yields that existed in many parts of southern Minnesota. In addition to excellent yields, most of the 2006 corn crop has had very good quality and test weights, with most corn meeting or exceeding the standard test weight of 56 lbs./bu.
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Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.