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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
Corn and soybean harvest started for some farmers in Pike County’s Mississippi River bottoms as early as last week.
According to Pike-Scott Farm Bureau Director Kim Curry, corn harvest for many other Pike County farmers will start this week.
“I know several farmers are starting today,” Curry said on Tuesday. “A lot of them took moisture samples over the weekend. Corn moisture is reportedly in the low 20s. That’s good enough to start.”
Curry said that, while lower corn moisture levels are needed to safely store corn, most farmers find it more profitable to harvest earlier and mechanically dry the grain.
“To avoid harvest loss from letting it dry all the way down in the field, we start now and accept some drying expense,” Curry said. “We’ll pay for it one way or the other.”
In some cases, Pike-Scott Farm Bureau Executive Director Blake Roderick said that farmers may be motivated to start harvesting earlier than they otherwise would, because some local elevators are currently paying a premium.
“I know Bartlett Grain over in Jacksonville has a premium on corn,” Roderick said. “Elevators need corn. They need to fill weekly orders.”
Prices for both soybeans and corn continue to remain at high levels.
“On Wednesday corn was above $5, and soybeans were close to $13,” Roderick said.
Curry said the prices this year are significantly higher than last year.
“Last year we were in the $3 range for corn,” Curry said. “It’s slightly over $5 right now.”
In fact, prices for both crops are as high as they’ve been since all-time historic highs experienced in the early 2010s.
According to Roderick, the high prices are a predictable result of supply and demand on a global scale, as well as supply chain bottlenecks.
“The market has responded to global demand,” Roderick said. “Processing issues have kept prices up. The other part of the equation is storage and usage. The amount of corn and soybeans in storage are at levels lower than we’ve seen. The carry-over isn’t there from one year to the next.”
Federal projections regarding the size of the corn and soybean crops in the United States, Roderick said, have also driven prices up.
“USDA has continued to degrade the amount of crop out there,” Roderick said. “That has kept prices high.”
Curry said that farmers in Pike and Scott counties are well positioned to take full advantage of the high prices, because the region experienced ideal weather conditions throughout the growing season, while other areas in the state saw ill-timed periods of low moisture and high temperatures.
“It looks good in both Pike and Scott counties,” Curry said. “Many areas in Illinois are expecting lower yields than we are. We were fortunate to be able to plant on time, and we got adequate moisture throughout the growing season. We also avoided extreme high heat during pollination. Those conditions point toward a good crop in the fall.”