With rain, early freeze and overall cool summer conditions, 2009 harvest has become very challenging for some parts of the Corn Belt. This week’s Integrated Crop Management e-newsletter from Iowa State University highlights issues that need attention.
1. Corn Quality Issues:
– Frost-damaged corn often stops at 17-18% moisture (stopped at 20-22% in 2008 in Iowa). Expect low test weights due to immature kernel.
– Pay attention to stalk health, as you may want to harvest wetter corn first if lodged.
– Expect drydown costs about 5 cents per point of moisture removed. Remove 8 points down to 15% will cost about 40 cents per bushel plus weight shrink.
– Corn test weights below 54 lbs. after drying should not be stored into warm weather, and should be dried to less than 15% for storage of any duration.
– Scout for field molds problems, because they can create toxins and feed value concerns, possibly creating discounts.
2. Field Mold Issues:
– Cool, wet harvest conditions favor ear rot and stalk rot fungi. Harvest problem fields first to reduce ear loss due to ear rot and increased mycotoxin levels.
– Adjust harvest equipment to minimize kernel damage.
– Dry and cool the grain as quickly as possible to reduce further mold growth and toxin production.
– Expect end users to increase their level of grain quality grading.
– Test all questionable grain before feeding to livestock.
3. Storage Issues:
– The extra costs in additional handling and drying logistics will likely pay off in terms of avoiding spoiling losses later on.
– Check combine settings between fields for fines and cracked kernels because they accelerate spoilage.
– Fungi grows very fast in corn above 20% moisture, so get wet corn into aerated storage immediately–don’t let sit in truck or wagon overnight.
– Monitor wet corn weekly in storage. Airflow must be good, as problems can start to show up in February and March as temperatures rise.
– Options when wet corn exceeds drying capacity: 1. Dry to 17-18% then cool in storage bin; it’ll end up at 16% and good aeration can get it down to the needed 14% for midsummer storage. 2. Dry to 20%, cool in bin, hold wet corn for spring but not summer. 3. Dry in two passes–first down to 17-19% then rest of drying after harvest is over. (This requires more handling and logistics, but could be profitable if the market carry increases to encourage storage.)
– Decide which corn and bins will be kept into summer (your best corn of highest test weight that was harvested below 20% moisture).