2009 Has Been Nightmare For Farmers

Sheboyganpress.com reports that wet weather hinders corn, soybean harvest.

(emphasis mine) [my comment]

Wet weather hinders corn, soybean harvest
Farmers facing damaged crops, eroding profits because of delays
By JOSH LINTEREUR — Sheboygan Press staff — November 8, 2009

Sheboygan County farmers are scrambling to harvest thousands of acres of soybeans and corn following a long stretch of cold, wet weather that's put them weeks behind schedule.

Even before October's deluge of rain, farmers had been contending with a late harvest — and the increased risk of weather damage that comes with it — thanks to a summer growing season that was one of the coolest on record.

Now, the wet weather has delayed the harvest even more, and farmers are risking lower yields and having to pay to dry and treat crops for mold.

The situation could mean slim profits during what's already been a trying year for agriculture.

"It was a difficult harvest to begin with. Add on top of that the month of October, which was very cool and one of the wettest Octobers on record, and growers are being squeezed on both ends," said Mike Ballweg, a University of Wisconsin-Extension Sheboygan County agricultural agent.

For weeks, corn and soybeans — which are the county's largest crops by acreage — have been too wet to harvest.

Ballweg estimates that only 15 percent of the county's corn crop has been harvested, compared to 55 percent on average during the past five years.

Meanwhile, about one quarter of the county's soybean crop has been harvested, compared to 85 percent for the five-year average.

The delay means that winter wheat — which is a valuable rotational crop for local farmers — hasn't even been planted yet in most cases. Ballweg estimates that farmers will only be able to plant half the acreage of winter wheat they normally would.

Les Schueffner, 67, who grows 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans near Sheboygan Falls, said he's been harvesting soybeans in spurts because of the rain, and he hasn't even begun harvesting corn yet, which he would have normally started about a month ago.

Even after this week's relatively dry weather, Schueffner fields were still fairly wet, but he felt like the risks were too high to wait any longer.

"The soybeans need to come out," Schueffner said Thursday, while driving his combine through a soybean field. "The beans really aren't dry enough to combine yet, but we have to do it because if we got snow on this, it would be disastrous."


Once his soybean crop is out of the field, Schueffner will have to pay to dry it.

According to Ballweg, high input costs — including fertilizers and fuel — have already made this the most expensive corn and soybean crop county farmers have ever planted in terms of input costs per acre. That has made profit margins as slim as can be, and margins will be further eroded as farmers pay to dry their crops and deal with mold.

Jason Vortahl, 38, who operates a dairy farm near Random Lake, said he could harvest his 1,250 acres of corn, even though it's wet, because he stores it in a silo, where it ferments and is later used as feed.

But he'll have to pay about $25,000 to treat it for mold, which formed because the corn matured later in the year because of the cold growing season.

"When it rained at the end of October, the mold just exploded on our crops," Vortahl said. "This has been a pretty unusual year. I would say you see a year like this once ever 20 years at best."

Lack of drying capacity slowing harvest

Agweb reports that delivery challenges abound.

Delivery Challenges Abound
11/6/2009
Linda H. Smith, Top Producer Executive Editor

Over the past three weeks, a growing number of elevators have been forced to turn away high-moisture loads, let the delivery lines grow to unfortunate lines and/or go to alternate-day delivery, says J.C. Hoyt of CashGrainBids.com. "Their dryers simply can't keep up." Some who have pushed temperatures and speed in an effort to take in more corn saw it "come out of the dryer as ground feed."
[see story below about brittle, flammable corn]

Although Cargill AgHorizons is by no means the only elevator chain involved, they provide good perspective. The following is a synopsis based on comments from several regional managers in the Midwest: "This season's wet harvest is an issue that goes well beyond any one grain company or state. In fact, we are hearing that many elevators -- not only in Illinois but throughout the region, including Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska-- are facing or will be facing delivery challenges due to the wet weather's impact on harvest, with many elevators accepting deliveries on considerably shortened hours and days to manage the backlog of grain drying operations, as the corn is extremely wet and takes much more time to dry. The entire grain industry in this area is struggling to keep up with drying capacity this year.

"At Cargill, we are not turning away producers' grain deliveries en masse, but we are being forced to limit unload hours and place maximum moisture limits at many locations so that our dryers can keep pace with demand. A few of our locations are currently open only every other day, or some variation thereof.

"From an Illinois perspective, of the 13 Cargill AgHorizons' grain elevators we're currently operating in the central Illinois farm service region, only three are completely open for deliveries of wet corn currently. The other are open for dry corn and soybeans only, or are operating with reduced hours in which we accept wet corn to allow drying activities to catch up. We understand producers' frustration, which is running high in some areas.

"In our northern Illinois River region, we haven't experienced any issues with wet corn yet, as harvest is just starting, and not a lot of corn comes to the river terminals during harvest time. On the soybean side, we have had to refuse some soybeans when moisture levels did not meet specs or there were other quality issues associated with the load."

Northwest Herald reports about late harvest.

Harvest among latest on record
By CHRIS FREEMAN

"This is just an atypical year," said Illinois Corn Growers Association Communications Director Tricia Braid-Terry. "This is not a circumstance [that] many people have a lot of experience with. Most people have something that they can point back to. ... At this point, I don't hear anyone saying they had the same problem."
...
The late wet weather has meant higher moisture content in corn and soybeans being harvested. That is costing farmers when they take their crops to grain elevators that are being stressed to dry more crops — and for longer times — than usual.

"Since so much of the crop is wet, it's adding additional pressures to the elevators," Braid-Terry said. "Some elevators have to close to deliveries of corn because they already met their capacity for the day. That further delays the process of the farmer."


"There's a little damage in the soybeans because of all the rain we had in October," Meier said. "They're shriveled, or we're getting docked at the [grain] elevator when we sell them. As far as the corn goes, the quality isn't really the best."

All the while, the harvest is not moving any quicker. Meier said it usually took him about six weeks to harvest his more than 1,000 acres of crops.

"We'll just keep pushing back; it's not like I can do more than I already do in a day," he said. "With the moisture in the corn, my dryer normally handles 500 bushels an hour. Now it's 100 bushels an hour. At this rate, I'll need 72 days of drying time to reach storage [levels]."

The problems will not just affect this year's crop, though. After the harvest, many farmers till their land to get it prepared for spring planting the next season. That might be out of the question this year because of the late harvest, Meier said.

"With the ground so wet, it's going to affect next year, and maybe future years," he said.

Kimt reports that farmers dealing with wet corn.

Farmers deal with Wet Corn
Reported by: Natalie Tendall
Last Update: 11/06 1:28 am

NORA SPRINGS, IA -The weather is finally shaping up, and that's got local farmers out in the fields. The rain from the previous months is still creating problems for them.

Wet corn is the problem and farmers dryers are full and working overtime trying to dry out the harvest. That has many farmers turning to elevators to get the job done.

David Bartel has farmed his whole life, but this year is proving a little more frustrating then others. He says the summer could have used a lot more heat.
...
Even elevators are feeling the stress now...there are many that close in the afternoon because their bins are already full for the day.

Weiner says, "the dryers can't keep up...and when their dryers can't keep up and my dryers can't keep up we have line ups at the elevators and we're all nervous."

Delayed Harvest Caused End-user Nightmares

Farm And Ranch Guide reports about end-user nightmares.

There are quality issues with the 2009 soybean crop and many elevators will not take soybeans with green pods or that remain too wet.

Producers need to stay in close contact with their elevator managers or any other purchasers of their soybeans. Hopefully, they made the very best decisions for their operations regarding storing beans, drying beans, or delivering them to the elevator.

"The delayed harvest caused a lot of end-user nightmares. The soybeans have not gotten shipped out as quickly as they should, plus a lot of them are wet," said Betsy Jensen, Northland Community and Technical College instructor, and editor of Prairie Grains. "Not much of the U.S. has taken dry beans off."

...
Jensen knows firsthand that soybean harvest and quality problems are not limited to the top tier of states. She and her husband farm near Stephen in northwest Minnesota, and they recently had the opportunity to sell their used "rice tires" to farmers in Illinois.

Rice tires are designed for the rear wheels of tractors or drive wheels of combines. They feature extra deep tread for traveling across extremely muddy conditions.

"The entire U.S. is struggling with these wet conditions," Jensen said.

...
"The October report was maybe the highest yield report that we're going to see, and it's going to start to drop off," Jensen said. "I do believe the corn and soybeans crops will be harvested, but you do lose yield as the crop is sitting out there and the days progress."

Poor drying conditions

The Bulletin reports on late harvest issues.

Can we wait for grain to dry down? Because warm air can hold so much more water vapor than cold air, it is impossible to get rapid drying of grain in the field unless temperatures are in the 70s and 80s after the grain reaches maturity. In 2009, some two-thirds of the Illinois corn crop reached maturity after the end of September, and temperatures during most of October have been below normal. So there has been no rapid dry-down period for most of the crop. By the end of October, average daytime high temperatures have dropped into the 50s over most of the state, and the chance of having even a few warm days with good drying conditions diminishes rapidly. So while we can wait until grain dries down some, we would expect on average for grain moisture t o change very slowly in November. Expecting it to drop by as much as a point per week is optimistic.
...
Why do so many bushels "disappear" from wet grain I haul to the elevator? This season has been difficult for everyone, including elevators, which in some cases have had trouble delivering grain on time because grain is coming in so slowly.
Drying capacity is also taxed to its limits this year, and in many cases dryers are simply not up to the task. This is no one's fault--we really can't spend what it would take to be ready for such an unusual year--but it does mean a lot of frustration added to what has been a frustrating year. Having 56,000 pounds of 28% moisture corn on a semi-trailer turn from 1,000 "wet bushels" into 818 dry bushels (13 points lost times 1.4% shrink per point lost) and paying more than 40 cents per bushel on top of that for drying takes a large chunk out of the value of the load. These losses are much larger than we have commonly seen simply because the grain is so wet.

Grain Quality Problems

Wallacesfarmer reports about grain quality problems.

Iowa Corn Growers Association Issues Harvest Advisory
ICGA leaders hold conference call with ISU grain quality expert, who has list of recommendations on how to cope with wet grain and mold.
Rod Swoboda
Published: Nov 6, 2009

Farmer leaders of the Iowa Corn Growers Association held a conference call yesterday morning (November 4) to assess the extent of the grain quality problems with this fall's late, wet harvest. They also discussed the potential impact on growers and markets, and sought recommendations from Iowa State University grain quality expert Charles Hurburgh, director of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at ISU.

...
The assessment by the corn grower leaders and the discussion with Hurburgh yielded the following observations and suggestions for farmers:

*** Visible mold on corn has been reported in multiple locations across Iowa, particularly east of Interstate 35.
*** Mold problems are more widespread in hail-damaged areas.
*** Visible mold on corn does not necessarily produce toxins at significant levels — testing is required to determine if there are mycotoxins present with the mold.
*** Thus far, only samples from hail-damaged corn have shown toxin levels high enough to affect swine and poultry (but not high enough to affect feedlot cattle.) .
*** Corn coming out of the field with visible mold should be segregated and samples should be saved for testing.
***
Mold problems in standing corn will only get worse until temperatures drop far enough to slow or stop mold growth, so farmers should harvest corn with mold problems as soon as possible — keeping kernel damage to a minimum.
*** Quality of wet corn with mold will deteriorate rapidly in temporary storage prior to drying. Grain with visible mold should be dried as soon as possible after harvest.
***
Corn with mold, even after it has been dried, will present more problems in long-term storage. Growers are advised to keep corn with mold segregated and move it into appropriate commercial channels as soon as possible.

Delayed winter wheat planting

Semissourian reports about month delay in wheat planting.

Another complication from the late corn harvest is that it delays the planting of winter wheat, which ideally should be done the first half of October. A month delay in wheat planting will likely mean lower yields in the spring, Bryan said, because later planting results in the wheat plant producing smaller tillers, which are the parts of the plant that produce the stem and seed head. "Larger tillers produce better yields," according to Bryan.

Brittle, Flammable Corn
Beloit Daily News reports about light and fluffy corn.

Challenging corn crop
By Hillary Gavan
Published: Friday, November 6, 2009 3:00 PM CST

Wet weather has created big need for drying

"It's like trying to roll cotton balls down an incline."

That's what Gregg Weidner, manager at Demeter L.P. 4739 Prairie Hill Road, South Beloit, said about drying this year's unusual corn crop. In addition to being damp,
this year's corn is light and fluffy, which isn't a good thing for farmers.

While corn is typically 56 pounds per bushel, this year it's about 51-52 pounds per bushel.

The lighter density corn can crack into dusty pieces, start fires in corn dryers and storage bins and even grow mold. And at the very least, it gouges the pocketbooks of local farmers.

Nancy Christophersen who farms with her son, Donald Christophersen, on South County H in Newark Township, said they are working extra hard get the corn dry. With damp corn she said there is the threat of white, gray and even pink mold.

"Everybody's kind of worried. If it goes in wet to the elevator, we have to pay to dry it down. Then it can shrink. If it shrinks, we lose bushels. It gets messed up all around," Christophersen said.

Farmer Roger Bates of Rockton said he had the biggest crop in his 60-year career this fall, but also the most costly one. Because of the need to dry the wet corn, his profits will be down this year. Fortunately Bates and his son Mike own two relatively new corn dryers. On Wednesday night they were able to dry 9,000 bushels of corn.

Other farmers, however, aren't so lucky. Many of them have which are older models which are more likely to catch fire.
Because of the need to dry corn, farmers are flocking to local grain elevators for help.

Weidner has seen a surge in farmers coming to dry their corn.

"The farmers usually try to dry their own stuff first, but the ones who do not have drying capabilities will leave it in fields longer to let mother nature do its work, which this year hasn't been very helpful," Weidner said.

The wind and sun this week may be able to dry the corn out. Weidner added that farmers may be able to leave it in the fields later, but then risk snow as the month goes on.

Weidner explained some of the complications of drying wet corn for farmers without state-of-the-art dryers.

"When you have a really wet corn kernel and take 20 percent of the moisture out with very high heat, you are basically just going to pop and burn it," Weidner said.

The other danger is fire because older models cannot always circulate the corn properly.

At Demeter the dryers are run at a lower heat for a longer period of time. Although the corn can be dried safely,
this year's light density crop tends to crack and split under the heat of the fire.

On Thursday afternoon, Weidner stood in one of Demeter's massive bins. He picked up corn which was full of broken pieces and dusty particles.

"Because of its light density, and because of the handling and the dryers it's creating a lot of mechanical damage. Broken corn comes out, and the quality is reduced," Weidner said.

Safety may also be a concern.
In addition to overworked dryers erupting in flames, storage bins can catch fire because air will not be able to circulate through the damp and heavy corn. The corn can then start to ferment and catch fire.

With the many broken corn kernels and little dusty pieces, Weidner added that some
farmer's might want to wear masks to avoid getting any mold in their lungs.

Soil Compaction Issues

Istockanalyst reports about soil compaction issues.

Besides drying costs and lengthy hours, Reed is also concerned about soil compaction issues from being in muddy fields with heavy machinery.

"That's not a short-term thing but we have to take this crop out before we worry about the next one," he said.

Yields for next year could be affected if the soil is too compacted. The soil could be difficult for new plants roots to grow into.

...
Janosik said it's common to see farmers working in their fields until late at night, but this year, he's seen combines running until 2 or 3 a.m., and then starting again at 7 a.m.

"This whole year has been a nightmare for farmers," he said. "It was too wet so there was late planting season. Now there's a late harvest and excess money being spent on drying. They won't recoup that if the price doesn't go up.

My reaction: The 2009 wet harvest is a nightmare for farmers

1) For weeks, corn and soybeans have been too wet to harvest.

2) Farmers were already facing a late harvest thanks to a summer growing season that was one of the coolest on record, even before October's deluge of rain.

3) About one quarter of the county's soybean crop has been harvested, compared to 85 percent for the five-year average.

4) High input costs (fertilizers, fuel, etc) have already made this the most expensive corn and soybean crop ever planted in terms of input costs per acre.

5) The delayed harvest is causing end-user nightmares as soybeans are not being shipped out as quickly as they should, plus those that are shipped are wet.

6) Farmers are combining beans that aren't dry enough yet, because they can no longer afford to wait.

"This whole year has been a nightmare for farmers,"

Poor drying conditions


1) It is impossible to get rapid drying of grain in the field unless temperatures are in the 70s and 80s after the grain reaches maturity

2) By the end of October, average daytime high temperatures have dropped into the 50s in most states, and the chance of having even a few warm days with good drying conditions diminishes rapidly.

3) So while grain can dry down some, grain moisture will only change very slowly in November. Expecting it to drop by as much as a point per week is optimistic.

Lack of drying capacity slowing harvest

1) The entire grain industry is struggling to keep up with drying capacity this year.

2) Extremely wet corn, which takes much more time to dry, is the problem

3) Farmers dryers are full and working overtime trying to dry out the harvest.

4) Many farmers are turning to elevators to get the job done, and even elevators are now feeling the stress.

5) A growing number of elevators have been forced to turn away high-moisture loads, let the delivery lines grow to unfortunate lengths, and/or go to alternate-day delivery.

"Their dryers simply can't keep up."

6) The lack of drying capacity is further slowing the already delayed harvest.

"the dryers can't keep up...and when their dryers can't keep up and my dryers can't keep up we have line ups at the elevators and we're all nervous."

Grain Quality Problems

1) this fall's late, wet harvest has lead to extensive grain quality problems.

2) Elevators are refusing loads of both soybeans and corn because of quality issues.

3) Soybeans are "shriveled", and corn's quality "isn't really the best."

4) Bushels are also "disappearing" as wet grain is hauled to elevators and dried.

5) Quality problems are not limited to the top tier of states.

Brittle, Flammable Corn

1) This year's corn is light and fluffy.

2) The lighter density corn can crack into dusty pieces, start fires in corn dryers and storage bins and even grow mold

"Because of its light density, and because of the handling and the dryers it's creating a lot of mechanical damage. Broken corn comes out, and the quality is reduced,"

3) Farmers who have pushed temperatures and speed of dryers in an effort to take in more corn have seen corn "come out of the dryer as ground feed."

4) Overworked dryers are erupting in flames because of the flammable corn.

5) Since air is not able to circulate through the damp and heavy corn, the corn can start to ferment and catch fire.

Reduced winter wheat plantings

1) winter wheat (which is a valuable rotational crop for local farmers) hasn't even been planted yet in most cases.

2) farmers will only be able to plant half the acreage of winter wheat they normally would.

3) Furthermore, the winter wheat that is planted will be go into the ground later than normal, meaning lower yields in the spring.

Mold

1) When it rained at the end of October, the mold exploded on waterlogged crops.

2) Visible mold on corn has been reported in multiple locations across Iowa.

3) Mold problems in standing corn will only get worse

4) Quality of wet corn with mold will deteriorate rapidly in temporary storage prior to drying.

5) Corn with mold, even after it has been dried, will present more problems in long-term storage.

6) Treating corn for mold is adding extra costs to an already expensive harvest.

7) Mold is also a health risk, with farmers needing to wear masks to avoid getting mold in their lungs.

Soil Compaction Issues

1) Running heavy machinery through muddy fields is causing soil compaction issues

2) Yields for next year could be affected if the soil is too compacted.

"With the ground so wet, it's going to affect next year, and maybe future years,"


Conclusion: With 2009 being such a nightmare for farmers, doesn't it make sense to expect the grain production to be down significantly in the US? Why is the USDA predicting this disastrous growing will produce the "biggest crop ever"? (They are lying)


Gold and agricultural land/commodities will be the best performers over the next year. This is why I am starting a fund to invest in Russian agricultural land. Please email me for more information.

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One Response to 2009 Has Been Nightmare For Farmers

  1. Mudar says:

    Dear Eric;

    Thanks again and again for your superb insightful analysis that gave you and us along the way a great projection for the future of the global economical turmoil. You’re a blessing to all of us and we owe you a lot.

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    Many thanks again and again

    Mudar M Dudin

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