STU ELLIS: Very favorable weather bodes well for safer farms | Agriculture
STU ELLIS for the herald and the magazine
Mother Nature has done the farmers a great service this year. Warm temperatures and sparse rains in August allowed the corn crop to ripen at lightning speed. And the time that followed was on a parallel trajectory allowing the first half of the crop to be harvested with little delay and especially at relatively below average humidity.
There isn’t a lot of high humidity corn harvested this year, like most years, when it has to go through the dryer for a long time before it reaches a storable humidity of 15 percent or less. And that could be very important when Bill Fields counts his data next spring. You will find out who he is in a moment.
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Due to the South American corn shortage last spring and the heavy imports of American corn from China, typical corn stocks at the end of the summer were low and supplies difficult to find. This is why many processors paid a premium for early harvested corn, without any discount on moisture. Subsequently, most of the corn harvested too wet to be stored in the farm’s bins was delivered to processors.
This means that most of the corn harvested today contains about 15 percent moisture or less. Yes, corn at less than 15 percent means a waste of money when it crosses the scale. But for the farming family, this low moisture corn is a godsend.
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Corn that now goes into a farm bin at 15% humidity or less should be fine next spring when it’s time to “haul it into town.” The usable term is “good condition”. This means that it will flow out of the silo without cores of damaged grain blocking the floor openings in the silo, make farmers climb inside and try to break it.
When spoiled corn or soybeans, or any type of grain freezes and does not flow out of a grain bin, the first response is to get in, break up the pieces, go back out of the bin. and resume loading the grain truck.
Not everyone is coming back up. When they don’t answer the dinner bell and answer their phones, and the family find the hatch door on top of the grain silo still open, the Rural Fire Department is called. The side of the silo is open, the grain flows. The remains of one are being recovered and Purdue farm safety specialist Bill Field reports another death in the corn belt grain bin.
The long term trend is flat. About the same number of farmers die in grain elevators every year. Up a few years, down a couple in others. Illinois is always ahead of other states.
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With the corn crop drying quickly and processors absorbing most of the higher moisture levels from the corn, the grain entering farm elevators this fall should be drier than usual. That means it will flow better next spring, fewer farmers will climb inside, and there may be fewer counts on the Bill Field board. Gift from heaven.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: 2015 grain silo rescue training at GSI in Assomption
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Stu Ellis is an observer of the agricultural scene in central Illinois. In addition to his weekly column, you can check out his “From The Farm” and “Harvest Heritage” reports on WCIA 3 News.