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December ponderings

Agriculture.com Staff 12/04/2009 @ 7:00pm

There was no column last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I appreciated the break, especially since the harvest was over for my operation and I could relax after a hectic month of hauling grain.

The last of the corn from my farm was done on November 14. The individual I harvest with finished his on November 22. This has given us sufficient time to get equipment cleaned up and put away. Since both of us are 100% no-till, we are not rushed to get field work done as are farmers in other areas. A few neighbors got some anhydrous ammonia applied before the weather turned cold this week.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week I took time to attend the Nebraska Ag Classic in Lincoln. It is the annual meeting of several of the state's farm organizations. By combining the groups get a better attendance than if they each held their own meeting. At that meeting I realized how fortunate we are in the Southeast part of the state to be so far along with harvest. The attendance was low at the Classic because farmers in Northeast and Central areas of the state still have a lot of corn in the field. Most I talked to said that 20-25 percent remains to be harvested. Excessive moisture content is a big factor delaying harvest because everything has to be dried before going into bins. When I told one farmer that my wettest corn tested 18%, she replied that she would give almost anything to have 18% corn coming out of the field. Hers mostly ran 20-25 percent.

I talked to my local elevator operator when I got back from Lincoln yesterday. I wanted to know when I could take corn off the tops of the bins and deliver it. He thought that his customers would finish harvest by the middle of next week. It would be sooner but he was going to close at noon Friday (today) because there is no place for his trucks to go because the terminals are full. He then needs to start taking corn that was contracted form December delivery. He thought I would be able to haul some the week after next!

That is going to be the story all winter. Our co-op has piles of corn on the street in almost every small town where they have an elevator. We do not normally pile corn on the ground because our humid climate makes it a risky practice. This year there was no way we would have finished up without piling it somewhere. If you wonder why the corn price has gone down, you only have to look at the size of the piles. I suspect that farmers will take turns all winter delivering corn.

The soybean situation is not quite as extreme. For one thing, soybean yields were not as outstanding as were corn yields. Also, most of the soybeans were harvested and under a roof before the corn was dry enough to go into bins for the winter. Consequently the soybean market has held together. The dead cat bounce this year was one of the best in history. The weakness of the dollar helped the soybean market more than the corn market because a bigger percent of soybeans go into the export market.

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