Farm Horizons, October 2013

Things to evaluate at harvest

By Myron Oftedahl
Farm Business Management Instructor, South Central College

Harvest time is here, and there are a few things to consider, more than just operating the combine.

For those of you with yield monitors, you should take the time to calibrate it. If you are using your maps for crop insurance, this is an important step. It would also be a good idea to keep a record of this calibration process. An equally important step is to check for any software updates that need to be done before you hit the field.

While you are combining, you should have a notebook handy so that you can keep notes for weed control and any other information about the crop. What weeds are present, and how many? How effective was the weed control? Do you suspect any resistance issues? Did your Bt work effectively? Was your aphid treatment effective? Use your notebook or mark the maps, so that you can evaluate everything for the year. You will not remember everything if you wait until harvest is complete. Are there any tile repairs that need to be made? Was a variety harder to combine? The list goes on.

Once harvest is done, you can sit down and evaluate hybrids. Use your harvest notes to evaluate hybrid and ph interactions. When you start looking at yield, you need to consider both yield and moisture. You can equalize yields by correcting them for moisture. Example: you have two hybrids; one at 170 bushels at 17.5 percent moisture, and the other at 176 bushels and 19.8 percent moisture.

I use the RMA Crop Insurance correction of .12 percent reduction for each .1 percent moisture, if moistures are between 15 percent and 30 percent. So, corrected for moisture, hybrid-one would be 164.9 bushel, and hybrid-two would be 165.8. Nearly identical; now you can calculate the difference in drying costs. If I assume $.05 per point of moisture, it will cost me $.10 per bushel, or 16.49 per acre. Drying costs for hybrid-two would be $.05 times four points, or $.20 per bushel or $33.16 per acre. Which hybrid will net you more money?

So, while you are combining, keep thinking, “What can I change to improve yields? Do I need to change anything?” This will help you fine tune your management decisions for next year.

Be profitable.

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