Harvest Hurdles: What Does GIPSA Consider Kernel Damage?

Unfavorable harvest weather means many farmers are facing kernel damage in corn and soybeans. USDA has determined the grade schedule, and according to Angie Setzer of Citizens Grain LLC, farmers need to understand how it works. 

“Many folks don't realize when entering into a contract they are agreeing to Grade #2 classifications,” she says. “Educating themselves first on how the grade structure works is the first step. Asking for a discount schedule is the next.”

According to USDA’s grain inspection handbook, kernel damage includes kernels and pieces of corn kernels that are badly ground-damaged, badly weather damaged, diseased, frost-damaged, germ-damaged, heat-damaged, insect-bored, mold damaged, sprout-damaged, or otherwise materially damaged.


If you have damage, Setzer says the next step is to have a conversation with your buyer or elevator. Her advice: try to be understanding, but don’t be afraid to have tough conversations.

“The elevator is also a customer in the end, meaning they have a certain set of expectations when it comes to the quality of grain they will ship,” she explains. “Because of the set of expectations and the subsequent loss that can come from discounts they need to have guidelines when it comes to what is acceptable quality and discounts for what is not.” 

Obviously in a perfect world, all grain would come in clean, dry and free of any unfavorable conditions, but that’s not always the case, Setzer says.

“Being aware of where your grain is going and what is expected of it when you're making the sale or prior to shipment is a great first step in avoiding surprises,” she says.

Recently, Setzer has heard many farmers complain about the elevator’s ability to blend grain and how it’s unfair to a farmer. While blending is a possibility, she says there’s a cost attached to it and even blended there’s no guarantee the product will be shipped without discount. 

“Farmers are also capable of blending with the right set up,” she says. “But spiking a load or trying to pull one over on the scale operator is NOT the same principle.”


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