8 Tips for Corn Harvest Success

September 17, 2017 01:12 PM

By Brad Krajewski, Technical Seed Manager, CROPLAN® sees

As you are near or in the thick of harvest — depending on your geography — you are no doubt busy with a million different things. But is there anything you can do to help ensure an orderly corn harvest? Here are some tips that could help you keep things on track.

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1. Make sure your equipment is prepped and ready.
Have your machines serviced or repaired if necessary, in place and ready to go. This includes your combine, tractor, grain cart, trucks, augers and bins. Harvest has a way of sneaking up on us, and there’s nothing more frustrating than having your crop ready for harvest and your equipment not running.

2. Know your marketing strategy and plan accordingly.
For example, if you have a contract to fill at a particular grain elevator, what is your plan for taking corn from a field that’s closer to that destination versus filling your own grain bin with corn from a field that’s closer to home? Knowing the logistics about what contracts you need to deliver on, what other opportunities you might want to take advantage of and what your plans are for the rest of your crop is important to have mapped out.

Crop characteristics also can impact your marketing plan. Do you have nearby feed lots that want high-moisture corn? An ethanol plant that wants drier corn? Do you have hybrids that meet food-grade qualifications? Here in the Gothenberg/Cozad area of Nebraska, for example, we have a list of food-grade hybrids that a leading snack manufacturer accepts. Do you have corn that could fit the need if someone calls looking for more grain to fill contracts? Know what your options are and how you can optimize your marketing efforts.


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3. Calibrate your yield monitor.
Accuracy matters for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re using your data to evaluate hybrid performance or to do a fertility trial, for example, making sure your monitor is calibrated correctly will give you the most accurate results and help you make the best determination on how a particular product performed in your fields.

Second, data accuracy is critical if you are using that data to make prescriptions for future years; for instance, using a yield map to make a planting prescription or fertility prescription. Accurate yield results allow you to create prescriptions based on what the populations, hybrid selection, or other factors might be going forward.

Calibrating a yield monitor takes time — a precious commodity during harvest. But if you want data that’s accurate and not just “good enough,” it’s time well-spent. Talk with someone at your local cooperative or equipment dealership if you need assistance with calibration.


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4. Know your hybrids and have a plan of attack.
Which products are going to dry down first that you’ll need to get to right away? Have any been damaged by severe weather, insects, disease or mold that might impact standability, harvestability or ear retention? Know which fields have been damaged and harvest those first before more of the crop is compromised. On the other hand, if you have corn that is severely damaged or diseased, you may opt to harvest your good corn first before it is compromised, and leave the poor crops until the end.


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5. Know the quirks of your fields.
Are there certain fields that present harvest challenges; for example, those with wet, low spots? Make sure you harvest those before rain or snow comes. Otherwise, it will be a challenge to ever get the corn crop out of that field.

6. Recheck equipment when you’re in the field.
Make sure you’re cleaning the grain off the ears correctly and you’re not throwing too many kernels out the back end of the combine. It doesn’t take very many wasted kernels to add up to a measurable yield loss.

7. Clean your equipment thoroughly.
It’s a no-brainer to clean equipment at the end of the season, but are you cleaning machinery in between fields? Some diseases, such as Goss’s wilt, can overwinter in crop residue, making it easy for combines to transfer that residue from one field to the next, spreading that disease to other fields. It’s the same story with seeds from herbicide-resistant weeds.

So if you know you’ve got a weed or disease issue in one field, blow the seeds and residue out of the combine and clean it before moving on to the next field. It will save you headaches and heartache next year.

8. Take notes — either electronically or the old-fashioned way.
Notes are always a valuable reference after harvest to help you make plans for next season. Be sure to make notes about spots in the field with standability issues, weed problems or washed-out spots from rain. Note issues as you see them because, as harvest progresses, you might forget about the situation you wanted to revisit or record.

Also, make note of both good and bad product performance results. This will help make hybrid decisions easier next year.

Using technology to record notes — whether it’s a phone app, voice notes or typing information into your tablet or yield monitor — will help you capture thoughts immediately for easy review. If nothing else, a trusty pad of paper and pen always does the trick.

So those are some tips for harvesting corn. Here’s to a successful harvest, and on to preparing for next season. For more information, visit www.c​roplan.com.


© 2017 Winfield Solutions, LLC


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