Mother Nature is unpredictable and harvest seems to be a time when many farmers are at the mercy of her mood changes. In a year where many have suffered from either too much rain or too little, stalk rots have run rampant and made corn stalks weak. A bad rain or windstorm can leave you vulnerable to major yield loss by down corn.
Be sure to scout fields to determine what your challenges are and what fields need to be prioritized. “Strategically harvesting is always a good idea,” says Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer. “You want to get in the field that’s not in good shape first.”
Stalk rots, wind storms and other challenges throughout the year may mean you have down corn. While this is never ideal and often brings yield loss, you can manage your losses through a few steps.
Down corn hurts, but it hurts more if you’re not mindful at harvest. Avoid losing kernels as much as possible with these steps.
1.Slow the combine travel speed. The faster you go the less likely you are picking up stalks and getting the grain through the combine, slow down to save more.
2.Harvest against the grain. This may mean you only harvest one way and carry a dead head across the field, but if you can save yield it can be worth the time, effort and fuel.
3.Get corn head snout tips under stalks. Position your corn head as low as possible or adjust the angle to get under stalks.
4.If you frequently deal with down corn or have larger areas with problems you might consider buying a tool or add on to help. Consider corn reels, rotating cones or a crop divider to help save grain from falling to the ground and increase efficiency.
Harvest brings challenges each year. If you face a situation with down corn use these tips to try to save as many precious kernels as you can.