Archive for Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Corn farmers ready for harvest

Numerous factors push prices for crop to 10-year high

September 19, 2007

This week's warm weather and high winds were ideal for the start of the corn harvesting season in Leavenworth County.

Travis McGraw, 34, shares a 3,200-acre farm with his father about four miles north of Tonganoxie. McGraw, who has lived in Leavenworth County his entire life, started harvesting corn this week. That's about a week later than usual.

"The wet weather in the spring delayed planting," said Michael Epler, Kansas State University Research and Extension agent for Leavenworth County.

McGraw typically plants during the last week of March, but had to wait a week later this year.

Despite the damp spring conditions, Epler expects the fall to be ideal for corn harvesters.

"We've had a lot of timely rains lately," Epler said. "Once we got through the wet spring, it's been a nice year for growing crops. This will be one of the better years we've had in a while."

Prices for corn are as high as they've been in the past 10 years, according to McGraw. He said farmers were getting anywhere from $3.28 to $3.32 per bushel. A year ago, corn was fetching anywhere from $2 to $2.25 per bushel last year.

"There are a lot of factors," McGraw said of the rising prices. "With ethanol being in high demand, there's a demand all across the country for it. There's also a lot more people living in this country than ever before. I'd like to see it go up more and stay there. It's hard for us to make money without good prices."

McGraw expects the corn to be fully harvested by Thanksgiving. For now, his crop still contains moisture and is not as dry as McGraw would like.

After Thanksgiving, McGraw will take the corn to a grain elevator -- Archer Daniels Midland Co., in Kansas City, Kan.

Sometimes, the wait to sell the corn is a lengthy process.

"We'll haul two semi-trucks up there," McGraw said. "When the crop is good, you have several farmers hauling to the same place. I've seen 20-30 semi-trucks there at one point. Sometimes, it will take three to four hours."

Next on the harvesting list for McGraw is soybeans. He splits his farm in half, between corn and soybeans. McGraw planted the soybeans in May. They won't be ready for harvesting until the first month of October.

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