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Published April 03, 2010, 12:00 AM

Spring-harvested corn in good condition

WORTHINGTON — Farmers who have been out in recent days getting the rest of last year’s corn crop harvested are finding it over-wintered rather well, considering snow depths that, in some places, buried the entire corn stalk.

By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Farmers who have been out in recent days getting the rest of last year’s corn crop harvested are finding it over-wintered rather well, considering snow depths that, in some places, buried the entire corn stalk.

New Vision Cooperative’s grain division manager Dan Uttech said Friday that six of the company’s 13 elevators had received deliveries of corn harvested within the last week.

“It is surprisingly very, very good — much better than it was last fall,” Uttech said of the quality.

Before the snow brought a halt to harvest last fall, Uttech said corn was coming in at 23 percent to 25 percent moisture, with test weights of 50 to 52 pounds.

“That same corn this week is running 14 to 16 percent moisture,” Uttech said. “It dried down naturally in the field, and the test weight is 54 to 55 (pounds).”

The standard for No. 2 yellow corn is 54-pound test weight, he said, adding anything below that is docked in price because of its inferior quality.

Even the mold issues that farmers had been worried about don’t seem to be much of an issue.

“When it goes through the combine … it looks like really good corn,” said Uttech.

Few farmers have shared information about the yields they are seeing in their spring-harvested corn fields, though Uttech said yield loss did occur due to ears getting pulled down or being snatched up by wildlife.

“It looks like the deer got more than their fair share,” Uttech said with a laugh.

“I drove by a field (Thursday) morning and it looks like there’s a lot of stalk breakage out there,” added Liz Stahl, Extension crops specialist with the University of Minnesota Regional Center in Worthington. “That’s just the risk when you’ve got to have something stand out there over winter.”

Approximately 8 percent of the corn crop nationwide didn’t get harvested last fall due to weather issues. In southwest Minnesota, Uttech said maybe 8 percent to 10 percent had to be left in the field over winter.

“You didn’t have to drive very far to find fields of corn,” he said.

Uttech said concern now turns to the weather. With a chance of rain in the forecast for early next week — and some pretty good snow drifts still visible in some fields, farmers may see some delays.

“We’re not going to see all of this cleaned up quickly,” Uttech said. “This could still drag out for most of the month of April.”

What may likely happen is farmers will wrap up their corn harvest and move right into planting. In this region, the ideal corn planting window is April 20 to April 25.

Stahl said farmers doing spring harvest of corn should consider planting soybeans on those fields this spring.

“You’ve got a bigger window to plant beans,” she said. “It could be interesting — planting and harvesting at the same time.”

Tillage options

Stahl said in addition to some corn fields not getting harvested last fall, there are a lot of fields where farmers weren’t able to get the ground worked.

“We’ve got a lot of cornstalks and residue out there,” she said. “Typically it’s pretty wet and you don’t want to do real aggressive tillage in the spring. If you’ve got residue management on the planter, that’s going to help out.”

Stahl said some farmers have talked about burning the residue off their fields, but that isn’t always the best solution.

“You return P, K (phosphorus and potassium) and ash when you burn residue, but if it blows off your field, you lose it,” she added.

The university has done some research on a one-pass system, which she said has produced similar yields to a straight no-till system.

“If a person has ruts in the field, they should make a light tillage pass to fill those in,” Stahl recommended.

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