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Published May 04, 2009, 12:04 PM

Farmers face losses from wet corn

Northern South Dakota farmers who harvested wet corn last fall are having trouble getting it to area elevators for drying because of soggy or flooded-out roads this spring.

By: Associated Press,

ABERDEEN, S.D. — Northern South Dakota farmers who harvested wet corn last fall are having trouble getting it to area elevators for drying because of soggy or flooded-out roads this spring.

Storing wet corn over winter wasn’t too serious because freezing temperatures, as a rule, kept it from rotting. But now as temperatures warm, it’s crucial to get the corn dried down so it doesn’t spoil, said Junior Linthorne, manager of Frederick Farmers Elevator in Frederick.

“That is a very big concern at this point,” Linthorne said. “Farmers have corn in bins they want to get out before it turns bad. It is crunch time.”

Producers who don’t have on-farm dryers need to move their wet corn to elevators with dryers. That’s impossible for some because roads are closed due to flooding, said Ron Sell, assistant manager of the 4 Seasons Cooperative elevator in Amherst.

Even many open roads can’t tolerate trucks heavily loaded with corn because of the soggy conditions underneath the road beds, he said. Counties place load limits on roads in the spring to prevent damage.

“And it doesn’t look to me like load limits will be taken off because of the very, very wet ground,” Sell said.

Michael Elsen, of rural Hecla, said roads are the worst he has seen since he started farming in 1988.

Elsen said he has been able to haul wet corn to an elevator by taking small loads at a time to comply with load limits. He encouraged his fellow producers to check bins regularly.

“If I hadn’t caught mine the other day, in a week or two my corn would have been shot. Everybody has really got to be watching those bins.”

Road issues affect farmers with perfectly dry corn in bins, too, Sell said. Some producers have sold corn under contract for delivery at specific times, but can’t meet the deadlines because they can’t truck the corn from their farms.

The Frederick elevator is busy drying 2008 corn and probably will be for weeks to come, Linthorne said.

He said about 10 percent of the corn coming from farms to Frederick has already sustained damage because of the kernels’ high moisture content.

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