Crops in the field during winter?

Difficult growing seasons mean farmers must make decisions about when to harvest their crops.

credit: Dale Hildebrandt, Farm and Ranch Guide

Wet fields, delayed maturity of the row crops and low commodity prices paired up with high propane prices have resulted in some farmers saying maybe they will leave part of their 2019 row crops to stand in the field throughout the winter and harvest next spring when they will be at a lower moisture level.

But before making that decision, there are many factors a producer needs to consider according to Ken Hellevang, NDSU Extension ag engineer and one of the nation’s foremost sources on drying and storing crops.

“We are looking at two different scenarios. One is will the corn meet maturity or not, and the same thing is true for soybeans?” Hellevang questioned. “Second is how much of a crop drying window will we see this fall? We could be facing this issue with not only corn, but our soybeans as well. However, soybeans is not a good crop to let stand over winter.”

Focusing on corn, he outlined what producers might expect to happen if some of the crop is left standing in the field over the winter months.

“Yes, there will be some drying that takes place over winter if we do let it stand out in the field. The corn left out in the field may drop down to about 20 percent moisture. But, what we learned last time was that if they are going to let it stand over winter, we first need to check stalk strength and how well the ear is attached to that stalk. If we don’t have good stalk strength or ear attachment, then our losses could be extreme,” he noted.

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