(Posted Fri. Sep 12th, 2014)
The National Corn Growers Association now offers its fourth season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.
Today, Field Notes caught up with Jay Beckhusen, who farms an hour’s drive from Austin, Texas. While many farmers prepare for corn harvest, his area is on the verge of completion.
“About 95 percent of the corn acres have been harvested already in Texas,” said Beckhusen. “There are still a few acres left in the field, but there is a reason that those haven’t been harvested. Down here, all of our storage is full and local elevators are full. There is just nowhere to take the corn once it is harvested. So, because of that, they are just leaving it standing in the field.”
Corn storage has become a major difficulty in Texas this year, according to Beckhusen. With many elevators no longer accepting grain and storage already full, there is no place to unload grain at the present time.
One reason storage is in such short supply this year is the abundance of corn produced.
“In terms of yield, it was a very good year,” he said. “I personally had 1,250 acres that averaged about 148 bushels per acre for dry land corn. I even had some fields that were nearly 190 bushels per acre, which is unheard of for dry land corn in this part of the state. In my area, irrigated corn is usually doing very well if it makes that sort of number.”
Yet, while farmers have grown what may be a record crop, difficulties other than storage could cause issues.
“There are going to be issues because of the low prices,” he explained. “Fertilizer and seed prices already look to be coming down because, next year, it looks like corn will only sell for $3.00 to $3.25 per bushel. I was fortunate to have some sold ahead of time at $4.00 or $4.50 and that helps. If you hadn’t sold ahead of time, you could be selling corn right now for $3.00. That is barely breaking even.”
To listen to the full interview with Beckhusen, including his assessment of how storage, prices and production will influence Texas corn farmers’ planting decisions, click here.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers who have opened their farms, families and communities up this year and meet the true faces of modern American agriculture.