Don’t Lose Money at the Elevator

September 8, 2015 06:00 AM
Don’t Lose Money at the Elevator

What’s worse than low market prices? Low prices combined with discounts at the elevator. You might need to do additional blending, drying or other counteractive measures to get the most for your grain.

The biggest culprit when it comes to discounts is aflatoxins, says Brian Aust, director of grain marketing at Lansing Trade Group.

“At the elevator, we work closely with the farmer,” Aust says.“We monitor the grain and feel out the marketplace to see if it’s widespread or concentrated.”

There are stringent export regulations on aflatoxins—anything higher than 20 parts per billion can’t leave the U.S. If you have aflatoxins in your grain and it gets turned away at the elevator, there are alternative markets options. For example, some feedlots will buy the grain as long as toxin levels are below allowable feeding rates. Even if you find an alternative market, the grain will still be discounted as much as $1 per bushel, Aust says.

Since it was a wet year, moisture level or low test weights will likely be a bigger issue than aflatoxins.

“Low test weight is normally not rejected. It should be 56 lb. for yellow corn,” Aust explains. “Moisture can be rejected. Look for 18% or less.”

If your field has good standability, it might be worthwhile to let it stand in the field to dry or consider running it through a grain dryer. In the field, grain dries down 0.3 points of moisture per day in wet, cool weather and 1 point in hot, dry weather, according to Iowa State University Extension. If you have your own dryers, it might be cheaper than drying it at a local elevator. The biggest costs for on-farm drying are fuel and electricity. Be mindful of space limitations as some smaller elevators might not have capacity to dry large amounts of grain in wet years.

Study your crop as harvest nears to spot potential issues. Set expectations before the truck goes to the elevator, so you can act quickly if issues arise.

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