On-farm storage has offered further benefits. “Having storage really helps at harvest time — we can cut corn and beans and unload on our on schedule, with no waiting in line at elevators. We have 120,000 bushels of storage, and we can store 100 percent of our crop.

“We have a continuous-flow dryer and we run all our corn through it. By being able to dry corn, we can harvest at higher moisture and we’re usually through harvesting before anyone else even starts. For our operation, I don’t see how we could grow corn without a dryer.grain storage,corn,soybeans,grain drying

“We usually won’t hold corn past June, but we can store soybeans as long as two years. Right now, we don’t have any of this year’s crop forward contracted. Soybean prices spiked this week, and if there should be an early frost in the Midwest, we could see more price improvement. We’ll play it by ear.”

The Pannells sell their soybeans through Bungee Corp. at Memphis and corn to Sunshine Mills at Tupelo, Miss., and Pilgrim’s Pride at Tuscumbia, Ala.

“We didn’t sell any $18 beans in 2012,” Mike says, “but we had a lot booked at $13-$16, and we were pleased with that. We sold most of our corn in the $7.25-$8.25 range. We averaged 145 bushels of corn and 45 bushels of soybeans.”

While irrigation could offer yield advantages in dry years, he says, “We’re limited here by aquifer capacity, and wells would have to go so deep it would be prohibitively expensive.”

Soybeans varieties planted this year are Asgrow 4632 and 5332; Pioneer 94Y61, 95Y01, 95Y10, and 95Y40; and Dyna-Gro 39YR57. Corn varieties last year were Pioneer 33N58 and Dekalb 6469 and 6697. “All have performed well for us,” Mike says.

They burn down in early spring with Roundup, Sharpen, and 2,4-D. “We never use Roundup alone, and we include residuals in order to help avoid resistant weeds. There has been some resistant pigweed documented in the county, but so far we’ve had none and our program has provided good control. For corn, we’ll follow with a 1/2-gallon atrazine application.”

Their equipment lineup includes both green and red: a John Deere 4730 sprayer with a 100-foot boom, and a Deere 8430 field cultivator, “in case we need to do some spot tillage”; a CaseIH 1631 pivot planter (16 30-inch rows for corn and 31 15-inch rows for soybeans); and a CaseIH 8320 combine with a 35-foot draper head.

“We soil test and base our fertility programs on those recommendations,” Mike says. “For corn, we’ve been making a blanket application of 10-26-26, with a sidedress of 160 lbs. equivalent of liquid nitrogen.

“Insects are not usually a problem, and this year we’ve not needed insecticides or fungicides. We had to replant about 35 acres of beans this year because of deer damage. Thus far, we’ve not had any damage from wild hogs, though they are a problem for some farmers in adjacent counties.

“We’ve had a few sporadic incidences of aflatoxin, but since 1996 we’ve probably had less than 10 loads of corn turned down. We had three loads rejected in last year’s crop.

“But as long as it’s under 100 parts per billion, we can move it for poultry feed and cattle feed, so it’s not a complete loss. I think because we can dry our corn the potential for aflatoxin is reduced.”