How To Avoid Over-Dried Corn

How To Avoid Over-Dried Corn

New ISU publication helps farmers manage energy used for corn drying. Topics include field-drying corn, selecting earlier maturing hybrids and recommendations for holding "wet and cold" corn in storage through winter.

In some years, energy bills for corn drying can rival costs for fuel used to plant and harvest the crop. A new publication, "Improving Corn Drying Efficiency," from Iowa State University Extension, indicates that when corn harvesting conditions allow, farmers should leave corn in the field to dry as long as possible. Taking full advantage of in-field drying can reduce on-farm energy consumption.

The publication explains corn moisture content, plant physiology and the fundamental principles of drying corn following harvest. Topics include in-field drying, considerations for selecting earlier maturing corn hybrids and recommendations for holding corn "wet and cold" through the winter. When conditions allow, using some or all of these techniques can help growers reduce fuel bills for grain drying.

Explains basic principles of energy management for grain drying
"When corn harvesting conditions allow optimal time for in-field drying, taking full advantage can reduce on-farm energy consumption," says Mark Hanna, an Iowa State University Extension ag engineer.  "The new publication explains the basic principles of energy management for grain drying." Improving Corn Drying Efficiency (PM 2089Q) is available to download.

Both over-drying and under-drying corn can lead to wasted energy and lost grain quality, notes Hanna. "You should consider options to reduce your drying needs and manage your drying system closely during the changing weather and grain conditions, to reduce energy use and to maintain grain quality," says Hanna.

After corn is physiologically mature, a black layer forms at the tip of the kernel, preventing further exchange of nutrients and water between the kernel and cob. After black layer formation, tempera­ture and relative humidity of surrounding air are the main contributors to in-field drying. However, plant morphology also is important. A tight husk restricts air exchange with corn kernels and controls how much of the ear tip is left exposed.


Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.


How fast or slow can you expect corn grain to dry down on the stalk?
Limited field-drying data suggest daily drying rates may average 1.0% in mid-September, 0.7% in late September and 0.5% in early October. More importantly, there is wide variation among seasons due to weather conditions. Days early in the harvest season (e.g., the first week of October) with a strong, dry wind and air temperatures in the mid-70s°F can produce in-field drying of 1% per day.

Conversely, corn moisture content in the field can remain unchanged for periods of two weeks or longer if weather is cold and wet. A plan for drying grain artificially is necessary during years with inadequate field drying conditions. In addition, you need to evaluate stalk strength and standability of each field before leav­ing the corn to dry in the field late into the season.

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, click here or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

The Farm Energy publications are part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers' awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy. The initiative also will help farmers and utility providers to explore opportunities to reduce farm energy demand and to improve overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.

Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.

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Evaluate Corn Drydown Rates
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TAGS: Extension
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