We are finishing up a great corn year and I suspect we will have some record yields and lots of high-yielding corn across the state. Moisture was generally adequate and heat stress was minimal, both which should contribute to high yields. But some of our crop may face some challenges this fall during the harvest season.
The combination of cool temperature this summer and some later than normal planting have contributed to later maturing corn and the possibility of a slow corn dry down process this fall. Warm temperatures in late September and early October have helped the situation and, if they continue, could help to mitigate the situation in some areas. An early frost in some areas though has interrupted the traditional maturity process. So we could be faced with a relatively good crop in some areas with higher-than-normal drying costs. If you are a corn grower in central or western Pennsylvania this is probably not news to you now. In some situations this could lead to slightly lower test weight in the grain.
Ohio research has indicated that grain moisture declines about 1 percent for every 24 to 29 growing degree days. In a warm dry fall with mature grain, they measured about 0.75 to 0.92 percent per day but in a cool fall they measured about 0.32 to 0.35 percent per day. At some point in mid- to late November, the temperatures become cool and the drying rate starts to become negligible. When temperatures drop in the 20s and below then corn will dry over the winter.
I suspect there will be some late harvesting this year to try to avoid the high cost of drying and as drying systems work to keep up with harvest. There could also be some harvest for high moisture corn where that is an option. Now is the time to evaluate fields and farms for the crop conditions and make plans for harvesting.
If you find fields with stalk rot or lodging issues, these would be a priority for early harvest. Fields that finished the season with heavy foliar disease pressure may be ones to have the most likelihood of stalk rots. I also often see the most lodging in our trials where populations exceeded 35,000 plants per acre.
If you can eliminate some of these fields from the mix early, then often our modern hybrids can stand well and tolerate late harvest without serious yield losses if they have to stand into December. Take time now to develop a harvest plan based on crop maturity and conditions and this could be very beneficial later this harvest season.