Hands down, the start to this year’s planting and growing season is the roughest one that Ken Ferrie says he has seen in his 30-plus-year career.
“We don’t know what kind of yield this corn crop will bring, but we do know this crop will be a late harvest and a wet harvest. Put your strategy together now for handling wet grain,” advises Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist and owner of Crop-Tech, Inc., near Heyworth, Ill.
Some farmers are lucky in that they do business with elevators that gobble up wet corn. If that describes your elevator, Ferrie say to “take them a box of doughnuts and thank them, and tell them you’re counting on them this fall to do the same thing.”
On the other hand, if your elevator has long lines even in a "normal" year when corn is dry, stop and ask your elevator manager what his contingency plan is “for when the whole neighborhood is going to be bringing them a wet crop.”
Along with that, Ferrie offers three recommendations as you evaluate drying needs for this fall:
- Some of you have dryer capabilities but haven’t spent much money on maintenance the last few years because you didn’t need them. Get them checked now. Don’t wait until fall to get them ready when a dryer technician will be hard to find.
- If you’ve been thinking of upgrading your drying capacity but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, do it now.
- If your neighbor has drying bins but has taken prevented plant this year, take him a box of doughnuts and talk to him about renting his facilities.
Ferrie says to look into securing your gas supply for fall as well.
“What’s your plan to keep the gas coming when everyone in the Midwest is drying corn at the same time?” Ferrie asks. “Don’t sit on your hands and act surprised this fall, if you don’t have a plan in place.”
You might also consider having conversations with your landlords and farm managers proactively about how you’re planning to manage harvest this fall.
One farmer told Ferrie that if there’s an early hard freeze there won’t be any crop to harvest. Ferrie says that’s not the case. “If we have a freeze before black layer it will reduce yield and seriously slow dry down, but we’ll still have to harvest this crop and we’ll have to dry it more,” he explains and adds: “I believe this crop’s going to be valuable. Let’s not lose it in the last inning of the game."
To hear all of Ferrie's recommendations for managing corn this season and into harvest, listen to his Boots in The Field Podcast here: