What You Need to Know About Handling Your 2020 Grain - Landus Exclusive with ISU Dr. Charles Hurburgh

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As the manager of the Iowa State Grain Quality Research Laboratory, Dr. Charles Hurburgh tells us that scouting, representative samples and test weight will be the three keys to this year’s grain harvest post-derecho.

While numbers are not yet certain, it’s estimated that there was about 60 million bushels worth of storage lost commercially, and another 60 million bushels of storage lost on farms. With 10 million acres of crop lost, the storm resulted in more grain than grain storage lost. 

Hurburgh says we’re going to see many of the same characteristics that showed up from the drought in 2012, with the same estimated yield loss around 20-25% in corn. Corn kernels are going to be small but filled and have higher protein as well as test weight. But the ethanol yield will be lower. Soybeans are also going to be small, with lower protein and higher oil – leading to problems during processing. Beans are also likely to be below 10% moisture this year, with splitting being a large issue. 

The main concern in ear rot in corn and the presence of Aflatoxin and Fusarium, with the southwest region of the state seeing the greatest risk. Dr. Alison Robertson of Iowa State University recommends scheduling an early harvest around 25% moisture if you see more than 10% of ears with rotting. 

With almost every field affected by the storm having at least slight root lodging, there are three categories of damage – dead, twisted but alive with small kernels, and corn that is continuing to fill. 

Hurburgh says it is most important to eliminate the fields that will be safety hazards if put into commerce due to their mold, as it’s toxic to both cattle and humans.

Grain drying will be a crucial factor after harvest, with the need to dry quick and eliminate wet holding time. Hurburgh recommends increasing bin dryers to 120-degrees Fahrenheit at home and to not store this grain for too long – it needs to be in and out. If not dried quickly, the grain will continue to grow mold and become more dangerous. The current storage timetables put out by Iowa State University need the times cut in half and cut more than half in downed grain. 

This damaged corn won’t be giving up moisture easily and will lose less moisture during cool down than expected. It’s not recommended to directly store grain in silo bags after harvest, even at 17 to 18% moisture, although test weights of 55 to 56 bu/lb may get away with it.

At the end of the day, test weight is going to be your best friend, as it is the first indication that the grain is damaged or stressed. Low test weight grain that is not damaged by fungus, is not well handled by poultry, but there may be other feeding options for your damaged grain.

When examining your fields, make sure you aren’t just picking a few ears, but are instead getting an accurate overall representation of the harvested grain – half of a five-gallon bucket should do.

As always, Landus is here to help you. We’re ready to communicate about your situation and solutions for the 2020 harvest season.

We’re continually thankful for the relationship we have with the Iowa State University Agriculture department and would like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Hurburgh for his time and expertise.