Livestock and ethanol production both require high-quality corn, but that’s a lingering challenge with the 2009 corn crop. Damage-related challenges and discounts will increase as the months progress, and that corn will be graded more carefully, says Charles Hurbaugh, agricultural and biosystems engineering, Iowa State University. On the other hand, corn in good condition this summer will be in high demand.

The corn came in from the fields too wet — over 20 percent moisture, with some much greater. Test weights averaged about 52 pounds per bushel with little increase after drying. Light corn spoils faster and breaks more during handling. The protein level was low — less than 7.5 percent at 15 percent moisture. Add this up, and the storage life is about half that of normal corn with the same moisture and temperature, Hurbaugh notes.

For additional information about harvest quality issues, go to  porkmag.com/nutrition.

Corn for feed should be tested for toxins (vomitoxin) and protein levels before you feed it to hogs. Test for toxins by drawing at least a 5-pound sample; grind the whole sample for the test. Composites of several individual loads or undivided bin samples are best. Send the sample to a reputable testing laboratory for analysis.

Not all corn is in good condition, even now. Outdoor storage had problems; some firms used it as temporary wet holding space with poor results. Bins have been emptied with the corn in poor condition. This means that there will be marketing and usage concerns through the entire year. If you’re selling corn, market by test weight — the lightest corn first.

The average damage level of 2009 corn was high out of the field, which leaves very little room to blend storage problems.