Information Management to Maximize Your Yields

Late Season Plant Health Suggests Early Harvest


Stalk strength becomes compromised in late season plant health each year and even more so from this year’s drought conditions.  Corn harvest needs to begin at 23-25% moisture to help prevent yield loss and while conditions are still warm enough to easily finish drying the grain with fans.  Logged corn can occur when stalks are weakened by diseases such as charcoal rot, Fusarium, and anthracnose.

Drought and other stresses can cause corn to have reduced root systems.  Consequently, nutrients and water become inadequate.  As the corn plants try to finish grain fill, the plant will begin to cannibalize the stalks and forcing anything it has left into the grain.

Walking in fields, the stalk may still look fine but as the season progresses, any kind of wind can cause lodging and green snap.  Take the precautions to prevent yield loss due to stalk strength.

Green Snap

A pinch test can be done by squeezing the first internode above the brace roots on 20 plants at five field locations.  If 10-15% of stalks collapse, stalk quality is compromised and the field can be slated for early harvest.

Keep in mind that after black layer, moisture is lost at an approximate rate of 0.8 percentage points per day.  This may be over 1.0 percentage point per day if hot temperatures. At black layer the average kernel moisture is 30-35%.


Costs Associated with Delayed Harvest

* Lodged stalks with non-harvestable ears

*Dropped non-harvestable ears

*Kernel shelling due to corn 15% and drier

*Volunteer corn for next year

*Yield reduction due to competition

*Additional herbicides and/or tillage to control volunteer corn

*Stress on BT rootworm event

*More fuel cost due to slow harvest

*Mental anguish

*4 out of the last 5 years Iowa growers have had widespread stalk integrity issues due to strong winds lodging “field-dried” corn.

*2 out of the last 5 years Iowa growers have given up a lot of weight and profit by harvesting 13% and even lower moisture grain.

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