Corn Storage Peril

first_imgOnce the grain is infested, its value for feeding livestock drops quickly. The insects eat thecorn, leaving very little weight and nutrition. “I advised a lot of farmers to sell their corn in late July and August when prices were high, anda lot did,” Shumaker said. “Prices are in a dip right now during harvest. But if farmers canstore their corn and manage it carefully, they can see more profitable prices closer to the newyear.” Georgia farmers finally have something to cheer about. They’re harvesting a truly goldencrop. Georgia farmers plan to harvest about 190,000 acres more corn than last year, he said. Anoverall yield of 97 bushels per acre, up from 90 in 1995, will boost the statewide crop. Dewey Lee, an extension agronomist, said Georgia yields were amazingly high. “We saw a lotof yield loss, especially in east Georgia, from a lack of water,” he said. “But irrigated fieldshad great yields.” “The real problem comes when the adult weevils emerge from kernels inside the bin and startmating and laying eggs,” he said. He tells farmers to inspect their corn for weevils every weekfor two months, then monthly after that. Brown and Lee said storing corn in the Southeast isn’t easy. Warm weather and humidity candamage corn and make conditions ideal for insects to thrive in corn bins where food isplentiful. The larvae eat out the inside of the kernel, leaving a powdery residue. They emerge as adultsthrough tiny, clean-edged holes. Adult weevils are eighth-inch-long, black insects with adistinct snout. Georgia farmers and economists expect the corn crop to be worth about $157 million this year.Shumaker said last year’s crop, while good, totaled $102 million. “The numbers are high this year,” he said. “And if they’re in the field, then farmers areputting infested corn into storage.” Lee said timely harvest is one way to keep weevils out of stored corn. “But even beforeharvest, farmers must get bins ready for storage,” he said. center_img Steve L. Brown, an extension entomologist, said he’s seen maize weevils in nearly every cornfield he’s been in. But even while Georgia farmers harvest their crop, tiny maize weevils may be devouring itright under their noses. Many farmers left their corn in the field for several weeks after it was ready to harvest. Leesaid the longer it stays in the field, the more likely weevils will invade. That price dip is partly due to farmers’ harvesting the third largest U.S. crop in history.Shumaker said Georgia’s crop isn’t record-setting, but it’s good. “We’re looking at a corn crop for ’96 that’s about half again as valuable as in ’95,” saidGeorge Shumaker, an economist with the University of Georgia Extension Service. The county extension office gives farmers details on storing and protecting corn in Georgia. “It’s an easy food source for them,” he said. “The adults fly into the field and lay their eggs inthe corn kernels. The larvae mature in the kernel and emerge as adults.” When weevils emerge, fumigation offers the only option for control. “It’s not cheap to do,”Brown said. “But it can save the grain.” Shumaker said too many farmers put the corn in the bin and forget it. But if weevils get to afarmer’s stored corn, he can forget about profits, too.last_img

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