Production Blog

Corn Is Still Wet, But Clock Ticks

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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The first days of harvest have been good ones for Matt Bennett, Windsor, Ill. Grain moisture is a bit wetter than he might like, but rain events have been plentiful in September and he doesn't want to risk loss of stalk and grain quality. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

WINDSOR, Ill. (DTN) -- Matt Bennett had to stop the combine to wait for another grain cart on Wednesday, but he wasn't complaining. The yields are that good in this part of central Illinois.

The first field he opened up averaged over 250 bushels dry weight. The field was coming in around 25% moisture. Riding shotgun, I watched the yield monitor consistently put up wet yields in the 300-bushel-per-acre range. The yield consistency was a stark contrast to most years when yields spike as one bounces through the field.

"I have a sentimental attachment to this field," said Bennett. "It was the first piece of farmland I ever bought -- while I was still in high school. It doesn't have the tile drainage of some of my other fields, so I'm expecting good things in days to come."

Bennett participated in several days of the Midwest Pro Farmer Crop Tour this year and was a little shy about broadcasting what his fields could potentially yield during the tour. Several of the regions he sampled in Nebraska on the western leg of the crop tour had been dramatically damaged by hail and other weather events. He's experienced years when others had a crop and he didn't -- it doesn't feel good.

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The Windsor, Ill., farmer is also a consultant for Channel seed company and has a side business helping farmers manage risk. Knowing where every penny is going has never been more important than in a year when prices are low and production is potentially high, he noted.

Knowing what yields to expect is equally important. He walked every one of his fields prior to harvest this year, carefully taking samples and yield measurements. He abandoned on-farm drying several years ago because he has access to cheap drying that is also nearby. Grain trucks and carts swooped across the landscape like the ever-present barn swallows trying to keep up with the corn pouring into the hopper.

Chewing through the still somewhat green stalks takes combine power and human patience, but Bennett was afraid to wait. Stalk rot and ear molds are always a concern in a wet year. So far, he hasn't seen problems and doesn't want any.

"My corn is still standing pretty well, but I've been in some fields west of here that are going down. We haven't had the rains that some have had in our region of late, but this crop is too good to risk letting it stand much longer," he said.

He added that a smaller, 8-row head was helping with the wetter corn. "I'm not sure I could get a 12-row to do this as well," he added.

Soybeans are hard to measure prior to harvest, but Bennett said his pod count measurements suggest he'll see 70-bushel soybeans or better. Some of those soybeans are dry and ready to cut and he may switch to that crop next week and let the corn crop dry a bit.

"This year has been about as perfect weather-wise as I can ever remember," said Bennett, who just turned 40. "But a good crop isn't enough. There's profit to be made in this market for the guys that tend that side of business too."

Pamela Smith can be reached at


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