Corn requires 30 to 35 growing degree units (GDUs) to dry down one point when the grain moisture level is between 25% and 35%. In the past 10 days, farmers in much of McLean County, Ill., have had a total of eight GDUs, says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist and owner of Crop-Tech Consulting, near Heyworth.
What that means is, “from here on out, field drying will be slower than molasses in January,” says Ferrie in this week’s Boots In The Field podcast.
“Everyone needs to have their heads up on the LP gas supply across the nation, especially north of here,” he adds.
Ferrie says some trucks in Iowa sat at terminals this week, waiting 20 to 30 hours to get a load of fuel.
“There are trucks pulling LP gas as far away as Georgia and Texas,” he notes. “There are farmers waiting on gas right now, and they’ve been told it could be a week before they get it.”
The reason for the delay is partly because schools, nursing homes and hospitals get their fuel supplies ahead of agriculture. Plus, livestock producers often get their fuel ahead of crop producers.
Ferrie says he anticipates the problem of accessing LP gas will spread quickly across the U.S., especially with the cold temperatures that have transpired in much of the country.
“The whole Midwest has planted June corn, so there are large volumes of fuel needed to dry this corn,” Ferrie says.
Natural gas has also been an issue. “Here locally, the natural gas dryers had to shut off yesterday due to low pipeline pressure,” he notes.
Hopefully, most of the farmers who listened to Ferrie’s June 21 podcast took him seriously and secured their gas supply early, in anticipation of the supply problems agriculture is now experiencing.
Either way, his advice back in the summer is still useful now: “Please don’t sit on your hands and act surprised that you have a problem,” he says. “Don’t take it out on your delivery guys, either. Work with them.”
You can hear more of Ferrie's thoughts on the current fuel situation here: