Photo credit: Greg Roth
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 has interrupted the traditional maturity process with corn killed before it reached black layer.
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 PA 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% for every 24 to 29 growing degree days. In a warm dry fall with mature grain, they measured about 0.75 to 0.92% per day but in a cool fall they measured about 0.32 to 0.35% 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 freeze and dry over the winter.
At the research farm last week, we measured grain moistures in the 30% range for 102 day corn planted in mid May. Later planted corn is likely much wetter. Based on this, I suspect there will be some late harvesting this year 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 it the time to evaluate fields and farms for the crop conditions and make plans for harvesting. Fields with stalk rots and some risk of lodging could be good candidates for earlier harvest. We have also had situations where high yielding corn developed root rots late in November that caused plants to fall over and pull out of the soil during harvest. So keep any eye out for those as well.
Often if corn is standing well, field losses can be low if it needs to stand into early winter. But there is always a risk of an unforeseen weather that can really delay or interfere with harvest.