Before You Harvest Your Corn

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson September 16, 2014 12:58 Updated


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There are a few downtime tasks that farmers can do prior to getting their corn crops off the field and into storage, and these tasks can vary by year depending on the growing season.  Choosing hybrids for next year can be considered, and because this process is a challenge it makes sense to visit hybrid trials near you.  Think about the following characteristics to help you make your decision:

  • Ear height
  • Disease resistance
  • Stalk health
  • Ear size
  • Husk coverage
  • Ear droop

corn pollination facts ag farm facts field germination

Another preharvest task is to check your fields for  stalk rot and Diplodia ear.  Drought is one of several potential causes of stalk rot,  and Diplodia ear thrives in cool, wet conditions.  Don’t wait too long to scout because if that scouting reveals stalk rot, you may want to rearrange your harvest plans.  Jeff Caldwell, Multimedia Editor for and Successful Farming Magazine  says this about scouting:

“Begin scouting just before physiological maturity, when grain moisture is between 30% and 40%.  Scout each field either by pinching or pushing plants.  Walk each field in a zig-zag pattern, checking 20 random plants from 5 spots in the field,” according to a university report.  “Lodging potential is significant if 10% to 15% of the plants fail.  Harvest the fields with the greatest lodging potential first.  When harvesting lodged corn, drive slowly, and harvest against the grain.”

Diplodia fungus does not produce toxins in the grain, but kernels will be lightweight, shriveled, and of poor quality.  Once the corn dries to 18% moisture however, it is no longer susceptible to Diplodia rot damage.  There’s not much you can do to prevent Diplodia ear besides watching moisture levels and possibly changing your crop rotation.

Are you wondering what your corn yields will be this year?  Ultimate corn yield depends on ears per acre, number of kernels per ear and average weight per kernel.  Here are some general procedures as outlined by Pioneer:

1. In uniform (topography, soil type, moisture) fields, conduct 5-8 individual samples or 1 sample for every 10 to 15 acres.  In non-uniform fields, conduct 8-12 individual samples or about 1 for every 6 to 10 acres.
2. Choose each sample location at random
3. For each sample, measure 1/1000 acre
4. Count number of ears in each 1/1000 acre sample
5. Count kernels per ear on 3 ears from each 1/1000-acre sample
6. Average the number of ears across all sample locations of the field
7. Average the kernels per ear across the 3 ears of each sample and across all the sample locations of the field
8. Multiply number of ears X kernels per ear X 1000
9. Divide the answer from step 8 above by number of kernels per bushel to get bu/acre (at 15.5% moisture)

Pioneer provides further details regarding this procedure, and states that the goal of sampling is to “reasonably represent the field without making the process excessively arduous or time-consuming”.

Depending on where you are and what your season has been like, you may be either excited or apprehensive about your corn crop this year.  But taking the time to do some of these tasks may help you prepare for the results either way.  Good luck on your corn harvest this year!

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team


Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson September 16, 2014 12:58 Updated
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