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View Full Version : Why are farmers leaving corn to rot in the field?



Fenika
10-21-2011, 04:17 PM
I see so many dry as bones corn fields, and we've been getting rain off and on so I can't imagine what the farmers are waiting for. Most corn fields have been harvested long since.

This waste of grain and land is driving me crazy. What's up with that?

BunnyMaz
10-21-2011, 04:28 PM
I can't vouch for your situation, but my parents let their almonds stay on the tree this year until someone offered to harvest them in exchange for a good chunk of the produce, and last year they ended up using the almonds they harvested for Winter fuel.

It costs money to harvest crops, more money to prep them for sale and more money to till the land over again afterwards. Last time my parents harvested almonds for sale, they were offered all told less than €100 for their entire crop, covering 2 weeks of back-breaking manual harvesting and shelling labour in addition to the ongoing tending of the trees. The offer would have had them running at a significant loss - it was financially better for them to burn the nuts as fuel and save money on firewood.

If buyers are pinching hard enough, it might get to the point where harvesting crops for sale could cost the farmer money.

On the other hand, I know some crops can be dried on the stem. When I'm growing chickpeas, garden peas and beans, I sometimes let the plants die off with the peas inside and shell them, ready dried, for Winter storage. Could some of those fields be for popping corn or other dried corn?

Fenika
10-21-2011, 04:51 PM
I know they have to fire up the tractor to bring the corn in, but there's a fair number of unharvested fields out there. Maybe they are waiting to harvest it for some reason, though with the off and on rain, I can't imagine it doing so well out there.

All I can tell you is that I'm in PA, and there's a lot of corn fields here :)

mirandashell
10-21-2011, 04:57 PM
Has the price of corn dropped a lot recently?

PorterStarrByrd
10-21-2011, 05:34 PM
Corn prices have climbed dramatically ... since it is now being used in fuel production.
I noticed the same thing in Indiana last year... I'd be interested in the answer to this too.

I know that there is a difference in the harvest time for sweet corn and feed corn.

My first guess would be that, since the weather for corn was very bad this summer in many places, the corn ears may not have developed enough to make harvesting worth the cost.

veinglory
10-21-2011, 06:05 PM
It is a little more complicated than firing up a tractor. Many farmers don't actually own a harvester and quite possibly can't afford to lease one. Also corn can get all kind of molds and blights making it unusable. I think it is fair to assume they have a reason and are not just morons.

defyalllogic
10-21-2011, 06:08 PM
not all corn is harvested for food. Actually most of it isn't (I did farm market research for John Deere.). Most of the corn in america goes to weird things like ethanol and feed production.

I believe they wait til the first frost in many places. Typically late October through November is when they harvest. They have to pay all these other fees to harvest and silo and get farm hands to do this that and the other them and they have to take turns in many places at the silo or co-op... It is often most beneficial to stretch out seasons as long as possible. (and it's easier with all the fun biotics they added to corn to prevent it from actually being destroyed by these choices.)

BunnyMaz
10-21-2011, 06:38 PM
It is a little more complicated than firing up a tractor. Many farmers don't actually own a harvester and quite possibly can't afford to lease one. Also corn can get all kind of molds and blights making it unusable. I think it is fair to assume they have a reason and are not just morons.

Indeed.

Just looking at mum's orchard again, you've got annual ploughing of the land around the trees to maintain the land, keep trees healthy and plough plant matter and nutrition into the soil. That costs around 250 since they can't afford to buy and maintain a plough themselves.

Then the 3-yearly pruning back of the trees to maximise output and maintain healthy branches. That is either a week of solid work or another 200 to hire someone to do it for them, with not a particularly large amount of wood even coming out of it for Winter fuel.

Then the actual harvesting of the almonds from the trees, which takes about 10 days solid labour, and the entire crop needs to be dehusked and then shelled by hand, which can take another week.

All told, even if they did the pruning and harvesting and shelling themselves, they'd work out to be paying 150 for the privilege of sending the almonds to their buyers.

I can easily see how an annual crop like corn, with a significantly higher amount of work needed to produce the crop, could be expensive to farm if you're not being paid decent prices for the produce. And we all know that even commercial corn for human consumption is bought at dirt-cheap prices. Selling at 25p per ear of corn at my local supermarket, I'd be surprised if the farmers are even getting 10p per ear.