Answers to 3 Big Harvest Questions

October 19, 2009 07:00 PM

Sara Schafer, AgWeb Crops Online Editor
U.S. corn harvest progress chugging along at a slow pace, only making a four-percentage-point gain in the last week. This means, overall, corn harvest is still 29 percentage points behind the five-year average. Here are the answers to three important questions to help get you to the harvest finish line.
How much will corn in the field dry each day?
Corn will normally dry around 1/4-1/2% per day by late October to early November, according to a recent article by Peter Thomison crop science associate professor at The Ohio State University. By mid-to-late November, drydown rates usually drop to about 0-1/4% per day. After Thanksgiving, drying rates are usually negligible.
"Waiting for a field to dry needs to be balanced with increased field loss and the possibility of wet weather that can restrict field traffic,” Thomison writes. "Growers also need to consider the effects of harvest delays on next year's crops if fall tillage is not completed.”
What is causing storage problems this fall?
Kurt Thelen, associate professor and extension specialist at Michigan State University, says corn harvest is about two weeks behind normal in his state, which is causing wetter than normal grain.
"The combination of a slow start to the spring, a cool growing season and a somewhat early killing frost is causing storage problems,” Thelen says. "Post harvest drying will be required.”
What signs can I look for that my corn will have a short storage life?
Check combine settings between fields for fines and cracked kernels, advises Iowa State University's Charles Hurburgh and Roger Elmore.
They say that fines and cracked kernels spoil much faster than whole, sound kernels, and grain that starts to heat or get moldy has essentially used its storage life.
The goal of grain storage management is to reduce the rate at which the life is lost, say Hurburgh and Elmore.
Their advice: Always get grain cool quickly and minimize variations both from the dryer and from the field.
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