Weigh Those Big Yields as They Come In

Check moisture readings carefully.

Published on: Oct 5, 2009

Yield reports are starting to trickle in on the '09 corn crop. As usual, early evidence backs what USDA is saying. Even though farmers 'can't believe it's right,'- the same phrase I've used almost every year for the past three, the in-the-field evidence says it likely is right. The problem, of course, is what's on your farm may be totally different than what's on a farm in Iowa, Nebraska, or Ohio.

 

A report from Greene County, Ind., earlier this week, not exactly the garden spot of the Corn Belt, tucked in between the flatter lands of central Indiana and the rolling hills of south-central Indiana, talked about very good yields, in the 200 bushel per acre range, for corn planted the last week of April.

 

That is indeed one of the rubs. When were you able to plant corn? And what did the weather do after you planted it? Corn planed the last week of April at the Farm Progress Show site near Decatur Ill., even 99 day hybrids, was still 35% at show time a month ago.

 

Corn examined near Edinburgh this week planted the last of May has black-layered, but barely, Ears were exceptionally big 20 rows per ear, adequate length, and very deep kernels. It's the first year in the 35 years he's farmed there that Jim Facemire has not had to irrigate one 300 acre field that has gravel at three feet, at least not for corn.

 

The catch 22 is moisture. From Greene County to the field at Edinburgh, it is still very wet- very high in moisture. Form 20% to ore than 30%, moisture will delay harvest. Heavy rains this past weekend certainly didn't create a drying trend.

 

Once you begin harvesting high-moisture corn remember the principles of drying. And remember that if you dump corn hot out of a dryer and check the moisture add 1 to 2 points to the reading you get form the machine. If it reads 16%, it's likely closer to 18%. It has to do with the physics of the kernel and how it responds to intense heat. Once it dries, the moisture level in the same meter would likely read higher, which is actually the true moisture level of the kernel.

 

Combine maintenance gurus are insistent that you keep your combine set field for field. You may need to make adjustments you don't make every year since you may be harvesting wet corn. Some fields are afflicted with ear molds, others with ear molds plus sprouting after insect damage by earworms or worse yet, western bean cutworm. Early reports are that unless the combine is set correctly, you may wind up grinding up these types of ears. They've lost their integrity. Check the combine before you start, then check again after you begin. Change settings as necessary field to field as conditions change.