When you walk for long distances as I did estimating yield for the Crop Watch ’12 plot and just keep walking because there are no ears to stop and check, it’s not a good sign. It takes a lot of 120 bushel corn or more to offset those places.
There will be some corn approaching 120 bushels per acre in the best part of the field. But my thought estimate based on estimated percentages of soil type in the field and respective yields of those soil types is just over 40 bushels per acre.
Concern is growing about how much of that estimate will actually be able to be captured by the combine. Even where the estimates are more reasonable, from 60 to 120 bushels per acre, there is large variation in uniformity of ears. There are a few small ears with irregular kernel set in almost every check strip taken in the field, even in the better soil.
One farmer who has adjustable stripper plates says he’s still concerned if it can adjust fast enough or over wide enough range to prevent some ears from slipping through. His pre-harvest solution is to anticipate combining at slower speeds than normal.
That could prove to be a catch-22 if you have a rotary combine. Most people who have run rotary machines say that to get the best performance in threshing or shelling, you need a consistent, reasonably high volume flow of material through the machine. That will be iffy this year, and running slower may make it more iffy yet.
Adjustments will also be important. The corn may be rubbery if it died early, so how many kernels will come off the cobs? And how many kernels will slip out the back still on to those lightweight cobs? That remains to be seen. The best suggestion we’ve heard so far is to check with your equipment dealer and bone up on possible adjustments for harvesting corn with small ears, and corn that is inconsistent in stand and yield, before you go to the field.