What is in this article?:
- Sell grain at harvest, store only when necessary
- Especially true of corn
- There's little incentive for farmers to store grain this fall. But those who do will need to quickly dry it down to a proper moisture content and watch for contamination.
- The market is giving a strong signal to farmers to deliver early and at harvest because storage will not be profitable. This is true for both corn and soybeans.
For early harvested corn, Stroshine recommends a stored moisture content of 14.5 percent, or 13 percent if the grain will be stored through next summer.
Economic trends and concerns over the condition of grain because of the drought suggest there's little incentive for farmers to store grain this fall. But those who do will need to quickly dry it down to a proper moisture content and watch for contamination, Purdue University specialists say.
As farmers prepare to harvest a poorer-than-expected corn and soybean crop, they have to consider whether to hold onto their grain and hope for higher prices or sell it right out of the field. In most cases, farmers should skip storage and take their grain directly to the elevator, said Corinne Alexander, agricultural economist.
"From an economics perspective, in short crop years one of the things we tend to see is that prices peak early, either before or during harvest, and then decline through the remainder of the marketing year," Alexander said. "The market is giving a strong signal to farmers to deliver early and at harvest because storage will not be profitable. This is true for both corn and soybeans."
(For more, see: Corn harvest advances — Massey Planting Co. photos)
Markets reacted strongly to a pair of Aug. 10 U.S. Department of Agriculture reports. One report estimated a 2012 national corn crop of just 10.8 billion bushels and a soybean crop of only 2.69 billion bushels, down 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively, from 2011. Another report projected lower world grain supplies for the 2012 marketing year.
That news, along with a continued decline in crop condition as a summer-long drought dragged on, sent prices for corn and soybeans soaring. In recent weeks corn has eclipsed $8 a bushel while soybeans have shot past $16 a bushel.
Farmers considering waiting out the market for even higher prices could be leaving money on the table if they put their grain in a bin, Alexander said. Prices are likely to come down in the first quarter of 2013 as South American farmers harvest their corn and soybeans and provide some relief for stressed world stocks.
There are only two reasons farmers should store grain in a short crop year, Alexander said.
"Those would include livestock producers who are supplying their own feed or producers who have contracts with either food or ethanol processors where the contract specifies a later delivery date," she said.
Storing grain could present a host of challenges this fall, including drydown methods, mold, leftover fine material in bins and insects, said Richard Stroshine, a grain quality specialist.
Grain could be going into bins at higher moisture levels and temperatures because many farmers planted early and could be harvesting later this month or in September when temperatures are hotter than in the typical harvest months of October and November, Stroshine said.
Unless farmers work fast to get grain dried down to appropriate levels, their crop could spoil in the bin. If grain is placed in a bin dry it needs to be cooled using aeration, taking advantage of cooler nighttime temperatures, Stroshine said.