Managing Corn Harvest

Managing Corn Harvest

By Nora Schultz, Sales Agronomist, CCA


Corn Drydown – According to Iowa State University this corn crop is averaging 5-10 days behind normal corn maturity. This is important to understand when considering corn dry down. In general, corn dries 0.5-1.0% per day in September and 0.25-0.5% per day in October. Being a little behind may mean more trips to the field to scout for your desired moisture.

Managing Harvest Loss  – This harvest season every kernel in your field plays an important role in your profitability. Understanding your harvest loss is key. Pre-harvest loss of ears can total 1 bu/ac when one 3/4lb ear is lost per 440 square feet. For every two kernels per square foot, one bushel per acre is lost. This can come from shelling at the corn head or incorrect internal settings leading to kernel loss at the back of the combine. Taking a few minutes to stop and check for loss at regular intervals can lead to some easy dollars in your pocket at the end of the season.

Stalk and crown rots have begun to show up in a wide area. It is important to take these diseases into account when planning your corn harvest.

Continue to Scout Regularly – Just because the corn isn’t actively growing doesn’t mean we can stop scouting. Use the PUSH or PINCH methods over multiple locations in the field. For PUSH – Push the plant tops away from you at a 30 degree angle. If they don’t return to vertical or they snap, they may be compromised by a stalk rot. For the PINCH test – Pinch the lower internodes of the plant. If they are crushed easily by your hand their integrity has been compromised. If 10% or more of the plants fail these tests consider taking the field early or first in your schedule. Contact your local Jacobsen Seed Representative for help scouting.

Correctly Identify the Pathogen – If, after scouting, you believe a field to be compromised by stalk rot it is important to correctly identify the pathogen. By cutting the stalk open you will be able to see the differences in how the pathogens present themselves. Some stalk rots, such as Anthracnose, can be controlled by hybrid tolerance. Others do not have genetic tolerance and can be controlled by general cultural practices that keep the plant’s stalk as healthy as possible such as correct plant population, balanced fertility, residue management and crop rotation.

Documentation – Once a pathogen has been identified, document which field it has been seen and consult with your Jacobsen Seed Representative to plan accordingly.