Dry Spell Helps Harvest Get in Gear

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The last widespread rain across northern Illinois was a week ago and the next chance for rain comes in the middle of next week.

This dry spell plays into farmers’ decisions about when to harvest, but it’s not cut-and-dry. Weather, pricing, markets, moisture content, crop variety, timing of planting, storage cost and field condition play into it as well.

On Wednesday at Seatonville Elevator, a farmer brought soybeans in to be moisture-tested. They registered 12.5 percent, dry enough to take now, said Dave Hastings, interim manager at Seatonville Elevator.

“They’re nice-looking beans and if they’re close enough to dry he’ll probably harvest them,” Hastings said.

“Beans are not discounted (price lowered) if they’re at or below 13 percent moisture.”
Dry weather could prompt this soybean farmer and others to harvest this week, Hastings said.

However, corn was above 20-percent moisture and most farmers likely would allow the dry weather to extract more moisture, Hastings said. Corn is considered ready for market or storage at or below 15 percent moisture, he said.

“A lot of these guys are going to wait to lower the moisture,” Hastings said.
“If you didn’t have too much to cut, they would leave it dry in the field for a couple two or three days. But if they’re in a hurry to get it they might cut it. They’re not going to want it to leave it sit too long. I don’t know of any corn that’s below 20 (percent) yet. So that farmer doesn’t want to pay us to dry his corn.”

Most farmers are waiting for field dry-down because this year’s crop is lagging behind, said Jay Marshall, grain merchandiser at Northern Partners Cooperative, Mendota.

“We don’t expect to be in full gear in early to mid-October,” Marshall said. “It has picked up this week considerably.”

Corn is more conducive to bin-drying than soybeans. Most soybean farmers leave crops in the field until they dry. Beans coming off now are early-planted varieties, Hastings said.

“It gives the guys with early beans an opportunity to get them out of the field and there’s a fair amount of them,” he said. “Typically Mother Nature will dry them to the point where you can harvest.”

But weather is a wildcard, and a surprise rain or wind could undermine plans. Soybeans that undergo wet-dry cycles will start popping out of the pods, Hastings said.

“It’s even more of a risk to leave beans in the field,” Hastings said. “Beans are just more susceptible to rainy weather.”

Scott Strickland, group manager at Consolidated Grain & Barge Co., Hennepin, said harvest is about two weeks behind, with some soybeans coming in but no corn. He’s heard that corn is at 30 percent moisture or above, he said.

“Corn is still staying in the field and still trying to mature,” Strickland said. “Guys are still waiting for it to dry down in the fields.”

Farmers might consider storing corn themselves and waiting for a better price, he said.
Cooperative Grain & Supply Co. in Troy Grove reported no corn or beans coming in yet, but one farmer was harvesting and binning corn at his home farm. A farmer near Arlington was closer to harvesting corn than soybeans.

Only 6 percent of Illinois corn was harvested as of Sept. 21 and condition was rated 83 percent good to excellent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report. Soybean condition was rated 76 percent good to excellent.

Source: News Tribune