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Local farmers concerned about corn

NATCHEZ — Area corn farmers are expressing concerns about harvest, with growing season nearly complete.

Farmers began planting corn in early spring and are preparing to harvest in the coming weeks.

Normally, farmers would have started harvesting by now, but early season rains pushed this year’s harvest back, Concordia Parish farmer Randy Miller said.

“We were a little slow getting started because it was too wet to get our crop in the ground,” Miller said. “Once we got going we had some good early season rain.”

Miller and Natchez farmer Ross McGehee said they were happy with their crop yield, but concerned about the selling price of corn.

“If you sell at today’s prices, you might break even,” McGehee said. “The market is collapsing right now.”

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange functions as a benchmark for selling corn, Miller said. Corn prices on the exchange have fallen to nearly $5 per bushel in recent weeks. A bushel of corn is approximately 56 pounds.

The low selling price could negatively affect a huge industry in Concordia Parish. Nearly 100 Concordia Parish residents farm corn in the parish, and it’s estimated collectively those farmers grow more than 26,000 acres of corn.

The corn industry in Concordia Parish is worth $28.9 million, according to the 2012 LSU AgCenter summary.

Miller said he sold his corn crop for nearly $7 per bushel last year, but said he expects to sell for about $4.75 per bushel after he harvests later this week.

The drop is negative for corn farmers, but means an abundance of the crop is available, Miller said.

“I think there are some good crops out there, it’s just a shame the price didn’t stay where it was,” he said.

Before harvest can begin, corn needs to dry to a certain point. McGehee said the optimal moisture level is 13 percent.

“If it looks dead, that means it’s time to harvest,” he said. “We are kind of just waiting right now. We won’t really know how we did until we get our corn harvested.”