Seed corn harvest in northern Colorado | TheFencePost.com
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Seed corn harvest in northern Colorado

Big combines may be expensive, but worth every penny, because of the time and manpower that they save the farmer.
Tony Bruguiere |
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All those beautiful green fields of corn in Weld and Larimer counties have turned brown and it is time to begin the Seed Corn harvest. Seed Corn is also known as Field or Shell Corn and accounts for 99 percent of the corn grown in Colorado. Seed Corn is used for livestock feed, Ethanol production, and other products. Only 1 percent of all the corn grown in the United States is the sweet corn that is consumed by humans in the form of corn-on-the-cob or canned corn. There are more than 4,200 different uses for corn products and more are being found each day. These range from aspirin to shaving cream, from latex paint to disposable diapers.

When people think of Colorado, it is usually the Rocky Mountains, skiing, and hiking that come to mind. While outdoor recreation is a big part of the Colorado economy, almost half of Colorado’s 66 million acres are farms and ranches, and Colorado agribusinesses contribute about $16 billion to Colorado’s economy.

Livestock is still king in Colorado and livestock products account for 63 percent of the agriculture cash receipts. At the top of the farm crops is corn and Larimer and Weld Counties are in the top 10 corn producing counties. Weld County is the number one agricultural county in the state, with number two, Yuma County not far behind.

When it comes to corn, Yuma County is far and away the top producer in Colorado. In 2009, Yuma County farmers planted 183,200 acres of corn for grain and produced 32.2 million bushels, second place Weld County, which had 83,000 acres produced 16.4 million bushels.

Weld County farmers like Russ and John Leffler of Eaton, Colo., have been producing corn on the family farm for many years. John Leffler, the youngest of 10 children, and his brother Russ have been closely monitoring the moisture content in their corn crop and have been waiting for 15.5 percent moisture in the corn kernel to begin the harvest. While some modern storage bins can store corn at 17 percent moisture, it is best to harvest at 15.5 percent to insure that there will be no loss due to rotting in the storage bins because of a moisture content that was too high.

With the moisture content right and just about perfect weather conditions, it is time to fire up the John Deere combines and begin the harvest. Some farmers choose to own their combines and some, like the Lefflers, prefer contracting the combine work out. John Leffler has contracted with Tim and Dan Ogan of Eaton, Colo., for many years to use their combines to do the annual Leffler corn harvest.

The combines drive through the fields and the ‘fingers’ of the header guide a row of corn to chains that snap off the ears of corn, which are then transported by an auger to a rotating drum where the kernels are removed. The loose kernels are lifted by an auger into a hopper and then off-loaded into a bin that is pulled by a tractor along side of the combine. The remaining ‘trash’ of now empty cobs and leaves and stalks are chopped by rotating blades at the rear of the combine and blown to the ground. The full bin empties its golden harvest into a waiting truck which transports the corn kernels to commercial storage bins. The debris that is left in the field after harvesting is either baled and sold as feed or plowed under to prepare the soil for next year’s crop.

The two big John Deere combines, with their 12 row headers, can together process 24 rows of corn on the Leffler farm in a single pass. The big combines are not inexpensive at around $400,000 each, but the time saving makes them worth every penny. Top of the line John Deere combines can cut, shuck, and shell more than 200 acres in a day.

Shell Corn harvesting is now well under way and the spot price is over $5.00 per bushel. It looks like it is going to be another successful year for Colorado’s corn farmers.

All those beautiful green fields of corn in Weld and Larimer counties have turned brown and it is time to begin the Seed Corn harvest. Seed Corn is also known as Field or Shell Corn and accounts for 99 percent of the corn grown in Colorado. Seed Corn is used for livestock feed, Ethanol production, and other products. Only 1 percent of all the corn grown in the United States is the sweet corn that is consumed by humans in the form of corn-on-the-cob or canned corn. There are more than 4,200 different uses for corn products and more are being found each day. These range from aspirin to shaving cream, from latex paint to disposable diapers.

When people think of Colorado, it is usually the Rocky Mountains, skiing, and hiking that come to mind. While outdoor recreation is a big part of the Colorado economy, almost half of Colorado’s 66 million acres are farms and ranches, and Colorado agribusinesses contribute about $16 billion to Colorado’s economy.

Livestock is still king in Colorado and livestock products account for 63 percent of the agriculture cash receipts. At the top of the farm crops is corn and Larimer and Weld Counties are in the top 10 corn producing counties. Weld County is the number one agricultural county in the state, with number two, Yuma County not far behind.

When it comes to corn, Yuma County is far and away the top producer in Colorado. In 2009, Yuma County farmers planted 183,200 acres of corn for grain and produced 32.2 million bushels, second place Weld County, which had 83,000 acres produced 16.4 million bushels.

Weld County farmers like Russ and John Leffler of Eaton, Colo., have been producing corn on the family farm for many years. John Leffler, the youngest of 10 children, and his brother Russ have been closely monitoring the moisture content in their corn crop and have been waiting for 15.5 percent moisture in the corn kernel to begin the harvest. While some modern storage bins can store corn at 17 percent moisture, it is best to harvest at 15.5 percent to insure that there will be no loss due to rotting in the storage bins because of a moisture content that was too high.

With the moisture content right and just about perfect weather conditions, it is time to fire up the John Deere combines and begin the harvest. Some farmers choose to own their combines and some, like the Lefflers, prefer contracting the combine work out. John Leffler has contracted with Tim and Dan Ogan of Eaton, Colo., for many years to use their combines to do the annual Leffler corn harvest.

The combines drive through the fields and the ‘fingers’ of the header guide a row of corn to chains that snap off the ears of corn, which are then transported by an auger to a rotating drum where the kernels are removed. The loose kernels are lifted by an auger into a hopper and then off-loaded into a bin that is pulled by a tractor along side of the combine. The remaining ‘trash’ of now empty cobs and leaves and stalks are chopped by rotating blades at the rear of the combine and blown to the ground. The full bin empties its golden harvest into a waiting truck which transports the corn kernels to commercial storage bins. The debris that is left in the field after harvesting is either baled and sold as feed or plowed under to prepare the soil for next year’s crop.

The two big John Deere combines, with their 12 row headers, can together process 24 rows of corn on the Leffler farm in a single pass. The big combines are not inexpensive at around $400,000 each, but the time saving makes them worth every penny. Top of the line John Deere combines can cut, shuck, and shell more than 200 acres in a day.

Shell Corn harvesting is now well under way and the spot price is over $5.00 per bushel. It looks like it is going to be another successful year for Colorado’s corn farmers.


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