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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Nov 20, 2009

I am sure I am not the only farmer who, as he is watching his corn go into an auger headed for the dryer, is thinking to himself, “This is the ugliest corn crop I have ever raised.”

How ugly is it? It is wet. It has spots of mold on the kernels. It has fines and is dusty. It has trouble weighing more than 52 pounds to a bushel.

After going through the dryer, it is improved because it is no longer wet, but the other problems remain. Once dried and in the bin, we will have to watch for storage problems because we have never raised a corn crop like this one.

In years with heavy test weights, such as 60 pounds per bushel, we get to recalculate our yields with higher numbers. When test weight is lower, we need to recalculate our yields to a lower number. To paraphrase an old phrase, “Test weight giveth and test weight taketh away.”

The first corn from this year has been hauled to ethanol plants and elevators. The lower weight per bushel means anyone hauling corn in a truck or semi is loading their truck differently. It takes a greater volume of corn to reach the truck’s weight limit with this year’s crop.

The ugly crop matches the ugly harvest. We sat still most of October with about four or five days of actual harvest. Soybean harvest was a day-by-day affair. It was difficult to be able to harvest two days in a row. These were not the kind of days we preferred, but they were all we had available.

Almost every load of soybeans we combined was done with the truck or wagon sitting on packed ground where it was safe. It was not until well into November that the fields were able to support the weight of big wagons and trucks.

The month of August did a number on us when an already cool summer got cooler and humid. September was a slight improvement with lower humidity and October was another step backwards with rain during a normally dry month.

Twelve percent was as dry as any load of my soybeans got and most of the loads were higher. I cannot remember being docked for soybean moisture at the elevator until this year.

Is this harvest good for someone? It certainly has been good for anyone selling liquified petroleum. The LP truck is here as regularly as the mail carrier. The only farmers I know who are enjoying this harvest are the ones who retired last year.

A year like this one is a test of a person’s optimism. It is also a test of the people we depend on from our suppliers to our places of delivery. It is not the kind of harvest we can enjoy. It has been one of a kind and we hope it stays that way.

This year, and especially this harvest,will be one for the record books. However, it is not the kind of record we will want to look back on with any pride (unless you are measuring endurance) or hope we do again.

Like many things in life, we will be glad it is over and do not want to do it again. Once was enough.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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