GARY, Minn. – Corey Hanson gave his Nov. 24 report from the combine while he harvested corn.
Working alongside him was his dad, Floyd Hanson, who ran the grain cart, and his brother, Craig Hanson, taking care of the corn at home.
“Everything is going kind of smooth today,” said Corey from the cab.
The 82-83 day corn was coming in at about 23.5 percent moisture. The plan was to harvest 4,000-5,000 bushels and take it home for drying.
He wanted to bring the corn down to 17 percent moisture.
“I can dry 2,000-2,500 bushels a day. I don’t dry a lot so I just combine every other day or every three days, dry some and then combine some and then dry some,” he said, adding that getting propane wasn’t so much of a challenge for him. The supply came out of Canada, and the Hanson’s prepaid their distributor.
Using his batch corn dryer and air drying corn bin, Corey takes pride in delivering high quality corn to the elevator. He wants to sell No. 2 Yellow that will store well when it is shipped overseas, with good-to-average test weight and no more than 1-1.5 percent foreign material (FM).
The elevator can work with up to 3 percent FM – cracks, fines, cob pieces, stalk material – but Corey works to keep FM down lower. His philosophy for producing quality corn developed after he traveled to Southeast Asia with the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program (MARL). Experiencing the heat and humidity, Corey realized that countries near the equator need U.S. corn that holds up to tropical conditions after a trip on an ocean-going vessel.
With too much rain and a lack of growing degree units this growing season, not all of the corn will meet his standards.
The mid-November harvested corn was 20.5 percent moisture, so that was put directly into the air drying corn bin to finish drying. Test weight was 54 pounds per bushel, which was acceptable.
The cornfield harvested on Nov. 24 had a test weight of about 52 pounds after drying – “still exportable corn,” he said.
The next unharvested cornfield was an 87-day maturity hybrid with drought tolerance. Corey expected it to be wetter with a lighter test weight – but he wouldn’t know for sure until he got the combine into the field.
“I honestly don’t think I’ll get that last field of corn this year. It’s probably pretty wet,” he said, adding the 87-day maturity hybrid made up about 40 percent of his corn acres.
“I’d rather take a chance leaving it and hoping I can get as much of the test weight as I can,” he said, “but you’re still not going to have heavy corn. You’re not going to have 58-60 pound test weight, no matter what you say. It didn’t make maturity. You’re going to gain 3-5 pounds, but I don’t see it gaining any more than that.”
The immature corn test weight is too light for sending into export markets. The best market for that corn is ethanol production or local livestock feed, he said. The Hanson’s maintain stock cows, so they can feed their lesser quality corn and byproducts to the herd.
The combination of crops and livestock works well. Manure from the cows is spread on next year’s corn ground and chiseled in as natural fertilizer. There’s nothing like manure to help crops thrive.
Like the combine, the cow chores were mostly on “auto-steer” ahead of Thanksgiving.
“We’ve been doing cattle chores and getting feed out for the calves and creep feeders and stuff like that, and then basically just slowly picking away at the corn crop, every couple of days,” he said.
With a slower pace to the late fall harvesting, Corey took time for quality of life activities. Bowling started up on Wednesday nights. Then, he and some relatives traveled to the Twin Cities to attend a funeral for a cousin of Floyds.
Rest and recuperation following a bout of flu kept him in the house for a couple of days too.
There was also deer hunting. Their group of five bagged three deer in mid-November. They gutted and cut up the meat at home, with Corey taking 45 pounds to one butcher to make into summer sausage, brats and breakfast sausage. Craig took another 15 pounds to get some dried venison made.
“I’ll make a little whole muscle jerky myself, and that’s about all that we really want,” he said. “Everybody gets a good taste of venison. When you go ice fishing, it’s nice to have a venison brat.”