Ready for a Long, Wet Corn Harvest?

How you deal with your challenges this fall, whether you’re in an area of abundance or an area of nothing, will have a direct impact on your success going into 2020. ( Farm Journal )

A challenging spring and growing season could easily lead to some major harvest challenges and headaches this fall. 

Have you identified any of these challenges? If so, what actions will you take? Is everyone on your team informed of what it will take to plow through this upcoming harvest? How you deal with your challenges this fall, whether you’re in an area of abundance or an area of nothing, will have a direct impact on your success going into 2020.

For the majority of those with corn, it’s likely an immature and very wet crop will be the norm. As a result, the list of considerations for preharvest readiness is quite long. Sit down with your team and have a conversation around these topics, as doing so will have a direct effect on the bottom line in both efficiency and cost savings.

1. Grain Quality: Low test weight, damaged grain, high-moisture grain and increased
foreign material can lead to all types of storage issues. How long do you plan to store bushels, if quality is an issue? Can you segregate grain with different quality levels? What are your delivery options?

2. Wet Holding Capacity: Do you have enough capacity to keep the dryer running when the combine isn’t? Limited wet space will amplify the drying capacity limitations.

3. Yield and Moisture Variability: Proper harvest settings on the combine will be critical for this challenge. Are all combine operators trained to fine-tune settings?

4. Trucking Capacity: Wet corn equals a lot more loads out of the field. Do you have the bandwidth to move grain to processors or alternate locations and still keep harvest equipment rolling?

5. Dryer Capacity: How many bushels per hour does your dryer actually do versus what it’s rated? Will your dryer be a bottleneck that restricts fall tillage and other activities? Do you have other drying options? Do you have enough propane booked? 

6. Handling Capacity: Are grain legs and augers serviced and ready for max capacity? Is there anything you could do to ensure minimal downtime?

7. Labor Capacity: Do you have enough skilled labor to keep all the equipment at maximum capacity? Will you overload your current team? What resources could you outsource to minimize the stress on your labor force? What training can you do to improve safety and efficiency?

8. Storage Capacity: Do you have enough total storage capacity? Are you running scenarios that allow for deliveries when/if basis or flat price presents an opportunity during harvest?

I know this is a lot of questions. But, if you could improve each of the eight categories by $2 per acre on a 2,500-acre corn harvest, you would grow your bottom line by more than $40,000. Asking yourself these questions is the easy part; generating the solutions creates the profit. Have a safe and profitable harvest! 

Chris Barron is director of operations and president of Carson and Barron Farms Inc. in Rowley, Iowa. He is also a national financial consultant for Ag View Solutions.

Run Scenarios For Your Harvest Needs

The tool below provides an example of production estimates and grain storage needs. Once you and your team have a handle on the expectations, you can create a plan for any capacity shortfalls. You can also update this as you confirm yields and seize marketing
opportunities. Email me at [email protected] if you’d like a copy of this tool, along with the preharvest checklist.