Plan Now to Manage Low-Quality Corn

Factor in drying costs, quality deductions and demand ( Darrell Smith )

In many areas, farmers are harvesting a wetter corn crop with lower test weights. Do you have the drying capacity to manage this grain? Does your local elevator?

“This year reminds me of 2009,” says Angie Setzer, vice president of Citizens Grain in Charlotte, Mich. “It never fully dried down and test weight never recovered. We had a lot of broken, nasty corn.”

Work With Buyers

Elevators accustomed to wet grain, she says, will be set up better this season, namely the upper Midwest. Areas that don’t deal with higher moisture commodities might run low on storage for wet grain.

“No one wants to push a customer away,” Setzer explains. “The drying services are where they’re going to make their money, and it’s a much-needed service.”

Typical drying cost range 4¢ to 6¢ per bushel, but those could be inflated in certain regions, Setzer says. Consider working with your buyers to contract ahead of time.

“We’re all in this together,” she says. “It’s been a rough year for elevators too. If you don’t like something, talk to your buyer about it. But don’t be afraid to seek third-party information too.”

As you visit with your buyers, talk through quality deductions.

“If you’re negotiating sales and making contracts, make sure you’re negotiating discounts,” Setzer says. “It’s important to be comfortable with the discount schedule.”

You could find value in shopping around, which you’re likely already doing with basis. Some elevators are more selective when it comes to discounts, while others provide more flexibility.

“The feeder market tends to be more willing to take in lower test weight and sometimes lower quality,” Setzer says.

Avoid Heat Damage

Your corn can suffer from heat damage if it's stored too wet or dried too fast. Setzer provides two tips to minimize damage:

  • If you’re storing wet corn, keep it moving. If it sits in one spot and it gets hot, it can start to ferment.
  • When you’re drying corn, don’t turn the heat all the way up, as you’ll see more shrink and breakage.

With the drawn-out planting season of 2019, harvest will likely be a frustrating bookend to the year. Have a plan in place — whether it’s drying at home or at an elevator.