When It Rains During Harvest

Some common consumers are quite concerned about Trick-or-Treat being rescheduled due to the weather. But the forecast that has loomed all week for our trade territory does nothing for the spirit of the farmer who just wants to finish harvest.

Too much rain in the spring means delayed planting. Too little rain in the summer means a choking drought. So what does rain during harvest mean?

Navigating Mud – When it rains during harvest, the obvious problem becomes mud. Combines, semi trucks, tractors and wagons all need to be able to get in and out of fields to harvest and transport the crop. Though they’re each large, powerful machines, they simply aren’t built to operate in the mud, especially when they’re loaded full of grain. Farmers don’t want to get their equipment stuck, and they certainly don’t want to learn what it would take to get them un-stuck!

Increased Propane Usage for Grain Drying – The 2019 crop was planted so late (especially for the northern end of our territory), that we’re facing a barely matured crop, resulting in areas with 30% moisture. Corn dries naturally when it is still alive and 17-snow-harvest_0growing, but with the quick decline in temperature and frost, it’s growing days are over. That means the moisture must be removed mechanically.  Farmers dry grain to prevent any loss of their crop and to ensure they get the best price when marketing it. Most
farmers have access to grain dryers on their farm. By putting the corn through these grain dryers they can dry the grain to the desired moisture level. A large majority of grain dryers are powered by propane, and that’s another input cost for the farmer.

Detriment to Grain Quality – It is difficult to maintain grain quality when you harvest maize_grain_01_0wet grain. Moving the kernels through the combine can easily result in damaged and
cracked grain. Additionally, a farmer would go on to spend the money to mechanically dry it, overall lowering the grain quality. This affects the price they get when selling their grain because damages result in discounts.

Rain during harvest isn’t ideal, but it is another condition that America’s farmers work through when in this lifestyle. Perhaps the silver lining to this literal rain cloud is that this rain will allow the parents and grandparents to see, and enjoy the company of, their favorite ghosts and goblins on this Halloween weekend. Usually, they only stop the combine for five brief minutes to dote over the costumes and perhaps steal a Reese cup or two.

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