Corn Still Slow to Dry Down in Some Areas

Corn Still Slow to Dry Down in Some Areas

Corn Illustrated: Time to weigh potential harvest losses vs. drying high-moisture crop.

The full semi-truck based on the amount of corn shelled was a good thing. But the glistening of kernels in the sun wasn't so encouraging. The farmer I was visiting knew that meant that the corn was wetter than he liked. His yield monitor was telling him it was 25%, or even higher.

Corn Illustrated 10/21: Take Advantage of View from the Combine Cab

He doesn't like to dry corn that wet - it seems like the process and potential for problems multiplies once you get above 25%. Likely you don't like to harvest corn that wet either. Yet he's faced with getting it out of the field or facing bad things that could happen.

Harvest while you can? The shine on the corn indicates it's wet. But leaving it to dry in the field carries risks.

For one thing some of his ground is river bottom. So if the river comes up due to big rains, he could see flooding in the field. He figures he saw enough of that last spring, when continual flooding caused him to replant part of the field four times.

Second, while the corn is standing good now, if stalk rots move in and November gales come along, lodging could be a concern. Even with a new, low-profile corn head the potential for losses at the corn head increases once corn is no longer standing well. Lost ears mean lost yield, and the potential for volunteer corn in next year's crop.

Corn Illustrated 10/14: Corn Yield and Test Weight May Not Be So Related

Third, if he backs off harvesting and waits for dry down, but then it rains and he decides he must get it out, he risks creating more soil compaction. Some agronomists around the Midwest are already saying soil compaction could be a real problem in 2015 where the crop must be harvested on wet or muddy fields this fall.

How much soil compaction factors into the 2015 growing season will depend upon weather and which crop you're growing. It tends to be more severe in how it affects plants if it's dry and you're growing corn.

Finally, leaving the crop stand at this point in the season doesn't have high odds for producing much drier corn. Historically, the drying rate in late October and early November is very low.

For more corn news, corn crop scouting information and corn diseases to watch for, follow Tom Bechman's column, Corn Illustrated Weekly, published every Tuesday.

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