As harvest inches closer, the little things will have a big impact.
Crop advisors and grain elevators understand this may be a lengthy harvest season, and they are preparing for the long haul. For one grain merchandiser, it means the possibility of receiving wet corn.
Robert Newton, grain merchandiser at Troy Elevator in Bloomfield, Iowa, said the early crop could be good, but his recent tests show there is plenty that needs to happen. Corn is still very wet right now, running at around 33% when he tested some of the crop Sept. 15. That corn was planted April 18.
“It’s going to be a wet crop,” Newton said. “Whether (farmers) try to bin dry it or bring it in, I don’t know. But it’s going be a wet crop without a doubt.”
According to the Iowa State University Extension Corn Drydown Calculator, that 33% moisture level is estimated to hit 22.2% on Sept. 29, taking into account upcoming forecasts and 30 years of historical weather data.
Newton said test weights are looking good in southeast Iowa, but much of the crop has a way to go. He said he does not expect farmers to get to the later-planted crop until at least October, and he has lower expectations for that crop.
“It’s not going to be as good,” Newton said. “It’ll have two rows missing off of it and probably be 10 kernels back. Stand might be better, but I don’t think it’s going to be near as good as the early corn.”
In the northern half of the state, North Iowa Agronomy Partners owner Jason Gomes agreed with Newton, saying to expect a lot of variability.
In northeast Iowa, the ear and kernel counts are positive, but he does not expect ideal depth and grain fill.
“It remains to be seen,” Gomes said. “There’s some good corn out there, but it’s going to be a wide range.”
He said harvest up north could start any day on some of the early planted crop. Test weight, Gomes said, is still “very much an open question.”
Gomes emphasized that while some areas may see decent yields, he expects a lot of variability due to late plantings. He said for that delayed crop, test weight and grain fill may be an issue.
“I’ve heard moderately disappointing corn and beans (to the south), but it’s so variable across the state,” Gomes said. “In our area, north of Highway 3, it didn’t experience a lot of the dry periods they did south of us. It’s a mix, but our soils are able to handle some of those dry conditions.
“The range is going to be much wider than last year. If you planted at the end of May or early June, 170 bushels is going to be hard to make money on, especially with poor test weight.”