High Moisture Levels Are Impacting Corn Growers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana

Posted November 8th, 2023 | By Hudson Badskey

Farmers in parts of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana are dealing with the repercussions of a dry spell in the middle of the growing season and unseasonably cool temps. Weather conditions have impacted drying in these areas, leaving growers with corn that is well above the average moisture level, and still needs significant drying once it comes out of the field. This issue challenges growers’ profitability numbers with unanticipated costs.

Our region had summer moisture that we don’t typically get. We also had a lot of smoke from Canadian wildfires and some people are theorizing that it impacted the crop growth and moisture levels.

Unusually high moisture levels

In an ideal scenario, the grain elevator wants grain to be at a 15% moisture level. Right now, we are seeing levels ranging from 20-28%. These are levels that are far above what’s typically seen in our area. Most grain elevators are set up to work with levels closer to that 20% mark. Hopefully, we will have a few more days for corn to dry out in the field, but that drying time is running out quickly.

“We have a few nice days coming up,” says Andrea Cleveland, DynaGro Sales Agronomist with Nutrien. “It needs to be sunny. It needs to be windy. And it needs to not be humid, which normally doesn’t happen in our growing region throughout late Fall.”

The cost of wet corn

The overhead costs on drying this corn, which many growers anticipate, but not to the level needed for this year’s crop, will add up. If the grower has their own dryer, they must consider extra time and natural gas or propane to keep things running all the time. If they take it straight to the grain elevator, they are going to have to accept a large discount on the payout price of grain. There are also safety concerns and other risks that come along with running dryers at the capacity needed to dry this year’s corn crop.

“There’s a lot going on for growers right now,” Andrea says. “They have to contend with the high moisture, which isn’t ideal, and other harvest factors, so the corn doesn’t deteriorate. Current conditions are also opening growers up to a possible worst-case scenario: excess moisture can lead to mold issues and the load can be denied.”

Financially, the situation is going to challenge many growers. There may be unexpected quality issues if the corn isn’t dried properly. With so much moisture in the raw product, growers can expect to sell at a lower price per bushel, and issues with drying can cause spoilage during storage, which would result in quality and yield losses. To avoid this, growers may need to invest in specialized equipment to store and preserve the corn, which is an added expense they might not have budgeted for.

Control what you can

One thing growers can take action on now is leaning into partnerships and relationships and letting people know what they’re up against. At Nutrien Financial, we want our customers to know that we are all in this together. We know this is an issue growers in our region are facing, and we are ready to work with our impacted customers to make sure they have a plan in place for Nutrien Financial inputs’ payments that come due.

Our credit managers are aware that conditions in the field are creating some challenges for our customers. If you are impacted, contact your crop consultant or sales representative to proactively work with our credit team. The earlier you start that conversation ahead of your due date, the better your position will be.

We’re in the field, too, so we are very aware of the moisture issue this year and the impact it’s having. As your trusted partner, we’re here for you and are ready to work with you to ensure your credit remains strong.

Hudson Badskey

Hudson Badskey is a Territory Sales Manager for Nutrien Financial. He has an Ag Business Management degree from Purdue University and has over a decade of ag business and finance experience.


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