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Source: GSI news release

Farmers planning to allow their grain to dry down in the field this harvest may be risking lower yields and reduced profit, according to grain experts. Producers who harvest early and dry their own grain can save time and money by getting their crop out of the field sooner, minimizing losses.

Waiting for corn to dry down naturally increases the risk of grain loss due to stalk damage and ear drop caused by harsh weather. Another factor is dry grain shatter during combining when the crop is left too long in the field - known as "invisible loss."

Gary Woodruff, conditioning market specialist for GSI (Grain Systems, Inc.), cites the example of farmers who switch from harvesting corn to beans, leaving a field of corn at a 25 percent moisture level. When they return two weeks later, they discover a 5 percent to 10 percent drop on the yield monitor, harvesting at 18 percent moisture.

"Many farmers over the past five wetter years have noticed they leave less grain in the field when they harvest early at higher moisture content and have increased their drying capacity to accommodate drying all of their grain in a short time frame," he says.

Due to the uncertainty of weather conditions and invisible loss, Woodruff notes that revenue lost due to in-field drying becomes much higher than the actual cost for farmers to dry their own crop. "Today, with a high-efficiency dryer, you can remove 10 points of moisture for about 4 percent of the value of $4.50-per-bushel corn with $1.50 liquid propane," he says. "If you can go from a 15 percent to only 5 percent revenue loss, that's a net gain of 6 percent above drying costs."

This harvest season, parts of the northern U.S. are expected to have higher harvest moisture than past years. The rest of the U.S. is expected to see drier conditions compared to the North. Those not in the North may not be forced to harvest their crop wet, but can still benefit from early harvest, improving their net profit by reducing invisible and other field losses.

Besides reduced grain loss, Woodruff notes that farmers who dry and store their own grain also benefit by avoiding harvest bottlenecks at the elevator and having more options to market their grain at higher prices.

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