Saturday, October 25, 2014

For Farmers, Fall is a Wait and See Situation
September 12, 2013 | No Comments

By John Parker Right now its kind of a wait and see situation for area grain farmers. Their corn and soybean crops, while widely variable…

By John Parker

Right now its kind of a wait and see situation for area grain farmers. Their corn and soybean crops, while widely variable around the area, are out there in the fields waiting to be harvested. What area farmers would like is a long, warm dry fall that allows their crops to mature and be harvested at a low moisture content.

What they do not want is an early frost that doesnt allow their crops to mature, reducing yields and farm income. Or, they would rather not have a wet fall that doesnt allow the grain to dry and they have to harvest in wet, muddy field conditions that are tough to deal with and cause equipment problems.

Ashtabula County growers will be harvesting something over 32,000 acres of soybeans and 20,000 acres of corn this fall. While that is a lot of acres and many more than 25 or 30 years ago, the county ranks just 56th in the state in corn acres and 49th in soybeans, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistical Service.

Geauga County, being much smaller and more urban, will harvest consider-ably fewer acres.

Each year, depending on how prices were the year before and predictions for the coming year, more acres have been planted. It is a trend that has been taking place for many years, especially when crop prices have been good.

Speaking of prices, that is another factor that grain farmers are in a wait and see situation this fall. Some uncertainty exists about just what corn and soybean prices will be. Price depends largely on the national yields in the United States.

Many acres of both crops were planted last spring. However, growing conditions across the country varied widely, as they did locally. Iowa, for example, a huge corn and soybean growing state, continued to experience some serious drought conditions. Yields have been hurt, according to some U.S. reports. Other areas had too much water with flooding.

Yet, predictions by USDA and other sources say there will be a nearly bumper crop for both grains. If so, prices will be lower here and across the United States.

So, it is wait and see. Farmers then have to make another important decision. Should they sell their grain directly from the combine and take whatever the market price is on that day. Or should they store their grain, either at home or at the local elevator where they have to pay a storage fee, hoping for a better price later on?

Over the past several years, farmers have built much more on-farm storage to have some more control over marketing their crops. At the same time, several million bushels of commercial storage space has been built providing a better marketing alternative for growers.

Given the number of acres to be harvested, the community will see many combines of various colors, moving up and down the fields like giant bugs, shelling out the grain from the stalks.

People will also see these big machines on the highways as they move from field to field, so be patient with them and give them some space. It is not always easy because drivers can be in a hurry at times.

Keep in mind that those combines could be out there harvesting food for ones dinner table or helping keep gasoline prices lower by being processed into ethanol that replaces gasoline in ones car.

Yes, it will be an interesting fall.

Parker is an independent agricultural writer.

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