Use these resources to make sure you're ready for harvest.
Northern Farmers Have More Storage Leeway Experts
If you plan to store corn through the winter and into spring and summer, it's very important to follow recommendations of your local Extension advisor or elevator operator. As Jack Trainor of Trainor Grain in Forrest, Ill., points out in the adjacent story, 15% or lower moisture is required for safe storage in central Illinois.
In northern latitudes, where the weather is colder, growers can store corn through the winter at higher moisture levels, says North Dakota State University agricultural engineer Ken Hellevang—provided they watch the temperature and keep an eye on their bins. "The key is to keep the grain cool by moving cold outside air through it,” he says. "It takes some expertise.”
"Last winter, our farmers were able to store corn through the colder months at 23% or 24% moisture,” Hellevang continues. "To do that, we recommend cooling the grain to 20° F in storage. When temperatures warm up in February or March, dry the corn down to 14%, or slightly lower, if you plan to hold it into the warm summer months.”
Storage time depends upon the relationship between grain temperature and moisture content, Hellevang summarizes. "For every 10° F increase in grain temperature, storage time is reduced by half,” he explains. "In North Dakota, we can store 22%-moisture corn for 190 days, if the grain is at 30° F or colder. At 40° F, storage time falls to 85 days. At 50° F, storage time becomes 37 days.”
Corn Stood All Winter Long Experts
In North Dakota, some farmers simply ran out of time last November, and left corn stand through the winter. "With snow coming, very wet corn and cold temperatures, it was just too costly to harvest and dry the corn,” says North Dakota State University agricultural engineer Ken Hellevang.
Limited research on leaving corn standing through the winter has produced mixed results. But much of last year's crop "actually wintered pretty well,” says Hellevang, "thanks to today's [strong-standing] hybrids. How well corn makes it through the winter depends on the condition of the stalk, the amount of wildlife damage and other factors.”
Farmers faced with such conditions should be prepared to compare the cost of field loss versus the cost of drying on the farm versus the cost of drying at an elevator, says Hellevang.