Early corn harvest is a way of life at Munson Hybrids

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Most farmers aren't ready to pick the corn crop just yet. But for Munson Hybrids, a company that grows seed corn, the harvest began on August 25.

On a steamy August 31, it's a sight that defies the calendar.

"Seed corn harvest generally starts before everyone else any given year," said Chad Randall, Munson Hybrids.

Deep within a 320-acre field in Henderson County, Randall is picking corn for Munson Hybrids. The Galesburg-based business produces seeds for farmers in a four-state radius.

"This year we're starting a little earlier because it's so dry," he said.

Really dry. Seed corn harvest started five days ago and seems to begin earlier each year. They'll finish before the first frost.

"Even customers that have known our business and are more familiar with it are surprised that we started this early," said company owner John Hennenfent.

For companies like Munson Hybrids, the early corn harvest is a way of life. It also has a way of previewing what field corn farmers will face down the road.

This year, it's all about the weather. With brutal heat and little rain this summer, some ears are smaller. This field could bring in about three-quarters of its potential.

"It doesn't have a complete seed set," Hennenfent said. "There are scattered kernels on the cob. Some that don't have hardly any on them."

Still, Munson Hybrids will be able to meet its customer needs without dramatic price increases. It will also import corn from South America to maintain its reserves.

"We've always known that the warm weather for two weeks can really hurt a crop," he said. "This year was a prime example of that."

One pass at a time, an early harvest for Munson Hybrids.