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A game of catch-up in the fields
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MONROE - It's still a case of good news and bad news for area farmers who are trying to harvest corn this fall.

Green County ag agent Mark Mayer said 10 days of dry weather earlier this month helped farmers harvest some of their corn.

However, there's still a lot of corn that remains to be harvested.

"We should be about 90 percent done with the corn harvest by now," Mayer said. "I'd estimate we're at about 55 percent done."

Mayer estimated the corn harvest is about three weeks behind schedule.

Lee Craigo, owner of Craigo Grain in Monroe, said the amount of corn per acre is much higher than normal.

"We're seeing 250 to 290 bushels per acre," Craigo said. "That's an unbelievable amount."

Mayer said an acre of corn typically produces between 155 bushels and 160 bushels.

Farmers have continued to have problems with moisture, Mayer and Craigo said.

They said a bushel of corn needs to be at 15 percent moisture. Craigo said bushels of corn have been between 21 percent and 26 percent moisture.

Mayer said it costs about 5 cents per percentage point to dry a bushel of corn. If the moisture is at 25 percent, it will cost a farmer 50 cents to reduce the moisture level to 15 percent. Mayer said it's difficult from a financial standpoint for a farmer to lose 50 cents per bushel of corn when a bushel of corn sells for about $3.50.

Farmers who dry their own corn also have had problems, he said.

Mayer said farmers either can take their corn to a corn elevator company or dry it themselves.

He said farmers who dry it themselves have had trouble getting propane because there is a high demand for it. Propane is used to run the equipment to dry corn.

"There are a lot of farmers who dry their own corn and even though there isn't a shortage of propane, there's a problem getting it to the farmers," he said.

For farmers, he said, that means they have wagons filled with corn that needs to be dried before molds. The longer the corn sits in the wagons, the higher the chance for mold.

Corn that becomes too moldy can't be sold and if it gets too bad it can't even be fed to animals, which means it will be thrown away.

Green County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Teresa Zimmer said it's been a rough year for farmers.

"It's been challenging," she said, "but farmers are still optimistic. I hear them say 'Things will be better next year.'"