Minnesota Farmer

Tipping point
September 12, 2013, 10:11 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, seasons, weather | Tags: , , , , , , ,

100_2393Much of our corn is reaching the tipping point.

When the ear on a corn stalk starts to form it is green and tight.  The tight husks help protect the growing ear from all but the most persistent pests.  As the kernels of corn approach maturity the husks on the ear start to dry and loosen.  The ear gets heavier and the shank can no longer hold the ear in an upright position.  The ear now points down and the husks loosen further, the kernels start to dry faster.

Each ear of corn hangs on the stalk from the shank.  The husks form a raincoat to protect the ear from moisture.  A wet ear now will cause kernels to either mold or to start germinating.

Now the waiting begins.  Our choice is to either harvest the corn now and use a corn dryer to finish the drying process, or to let it dry on the stalk.  Each choice has a risk.  Drying the corn costs us more money, but can yield a better product.  Waiting for the corn to dry naturally can mean loss of yield to ear drop.  Dry corn is also easier to damage so extra care is needed in setting the harvester.  High winds can also rattle the stalks of corn and cause ear drop.

The weather and time of the year will determine the path taken.  If it is early in the year and the weather is hot and dry we’ll let it wait a bit longer.  If it is late in the year and the weather is cold and wet, we might as well start and get it over with before winter sets in.  We only have so long to wait here on the Minnesota prairie.



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