Where Are All The Grain Piles?

Some commercial elevators may not need to store corn outside this year.

Published on: Oct 11, 2011

If you want to see large piles of corn that big elevators typically make for temporary storage at harvest, then clean out as winter unfolds while grain is still in good condition, you may have to head west to Iowa, or perhaps head into extreme northwestern Indiana or northern Illinois. A good part of Indiana, Ohio and even central and southern Illinois are looking at highly-variable corn yields, with very meager to downright poor yields in some areas.

One large commercial elevator near Edinburgh, Kokomo Grain, named for its parent company located near Kokomo, Ind., typically erects a large pile of corn. Jim Facemire, Edinburgh, can see it from his house, located just across the field from the elevator, can typically see this large pile of corn build in the fall, then disappear over the winter. He doesn't expect to see it this fall.

"Yields are down so much in this area that they're telling farmers they will likely not need to store corn outside," he says. "They have made a huge pile of corn for the past several years."

Part, but not all, of the territory that this large terminal elevator serves consists of land that is rather droughty. Some is sand, but most is silt loam with gravel underlain at varying depths, from two to four feet. One farmer who typically harvests 140 to 170 bushel corn on this non-irrigated land has finished corn harvest on those acres. His highest yield was under 50 bushels per acre. That's lower than some soybean yields that have been reported, although soybean yields are also highly variable, especially in south-central Indiana.

Chris hurt, Purdue University Extension ag economist, says that because there are areas where corn yields will be significantly lower than normal in Indiana, there is likely to be excess storage in the state this year. He doesn't expect all on-farm bins to be filled, nor all commercial storage. However, the situation on storage will likely be highly variable since yields are highly variable. Areas where corn went in close to on time in the spring are still reporting reasonable yields. That's primarily northwest Indiana, from Tippecanoe County and north, with a few other exceptions. Yields haven't been reported much yet from eastern Indiana, because those fields were planted late and corn is still high in moisture content.