Nebraska is predicted to harvest the state’s largest corn crop in history this year, with a total production of 1.58 billion bushels on a record yield of 178 bushels per acre—yet getting that crop in the bin is proving to be a challenge.
Nebraska Corn Board chairman Alan Tiemann noted that the old adage in agriculture, “never count your chickens until they’re hatched,” also goes for corn farmers—“never count your bushels until they’re in the bin.”
As a major winter storm rolled into the Plains this week, Nebraska still has 12 percent of its corn yet to harvest, according to the Nebraska Ag Statistics Service (NASS).
“While 12 percent may not seem like much, it adds up to approximately 180 million bushels still in the field with a farm-gate value of more than $630 million. And, if it is your crop still in the field it will create some sleepless nights and financial concern,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.
Farmers have a tremendous investment in land, seed, fertilizer and machinery, and they depend on harvest to make sure they have a means to pay for all of that.
“Corn has been standing well, and some corn producers have already tolerated three different storms, but time and weather can still take its toll. It sure appears not all of this crop will be harvested in 2009, and it has been a long time since we have seen harvest on that many acres carry into the next year,” said Tiemann.
Nationwide, corn yields have been steadily increasing and currently the U.S. is looking to harvest nearly 13 billion bushels.
Yet some others states are worse off than Nebraska.
North Dakota is only 53 percent completed with harvest, South Dakota is 73 percent harvested and Wisconsin is 77 percent completed. The top five corn producing states nationally that produce more than 60 percent of the corn crop are 85 percent complete or better as of Dec. 6, according to NASS.
Harvest yields reported thus far have been tremendous, but a wet October and a crop that has been slow to dry down caused backups at elevators and caused many producers to slow the pace of harvest waiting for the ground conditions and the grain to dry.
Nebraska is the third largest corn producing state, and is anticipating a 221 million bushel carryover in corn this year, but with approximately 180 million bushels still in the field, the carryover could be reduced.
“With a little help from Mother Nature and today’s harvesting equipment we are hopeful most of those bushels will still make it to the storage bin,” Tiemann said.