Farmers are generally pleased to see grain moisture drop in fields to help ease fall drying needs.
And that’s especially true for Allen and Chad Broster, a father/son farming team near West Salem, who grow yellow and white food grade corn, among other specialty crops, in Edwards, Wabash and Wayne counties.
“When you do specialty crops and you’re dealing with food grade corn, you have to handle it differently,” Allen said in the middle of harvest. “They don’t want any FM (foreign material) in it, and the corn has to be dried with low heat.”
The Brosters built a new grain system on their farm about five years ago with about double the grain drying ability to handle their food grade corn. It requires a combination of low heat and cooling to prevent stress cracks.
They sell the food grade white and yellow corn to Azteca Milling in Evansville, Ind., which produces more than 40 types of flour.
“I got in on it about 15 years ago (when Azteca offered food grade corn contracts in the area) and expanded every year,” Allen said. “In this day and age, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you can.”
The Brosters also took advantage of a recent harvest window to combine white corn at about 15% moisture and yellow food grade corn last week that was 17.5%, which required some drying.
“Harvest is going good,” Allen said. “All the corn is above average this year.”
Food grade corn production requires on-farm storage with the ability to deliver on call, so the Brosters built more bins, along with their new grain system, which added thousands of bushels of storage.
They have a team, including Allen’s wife, Debbie; his brother, Eldon (a retired school principal); Chad’s girlfriend, Jessica Pierson; a full-time employee, Cody Dunkel; and help from other retirees to keep the grain in shape and moving throughout the year.
“Hauling can be a challenge. You have to haul when they call, but I’ve got people I can count on,” Allen said. “Azteca’s been good for us. It’s helped the bottom line.”
The Brosters, Wabash County Farm Bureau members, receive premiums of about 55 cents per bushel for yellow food grade corn and 80 cents for white food grade corn.
But what happens when a load gets rejected for the food grade market?
“We sell it to the local market if it gets rejected,” Allen said. “As time has gone on, they’ve become more particular (at the mill).”
The Brosters also grow seed beans and wheat for nearby production in Albion. Those crops can add about another $1 per bushel premium.
“The corn market the last few years hasn’t been that great,” Allen said. “The premiums (from all the specialty crops) helped out quite a bit.”
The innovative farm family also added three rows of solar panels on their farm in the past year to save on energy costs.