The relationship of corn silage harvest moisture and maturity to its quality and performance is often underestimated. Harvesting corn silage at moisture levels above 70 percent will not only reduce yield but may also result in seepage and undesirable clostridia fermentation. Some farmers are first harvesting any standing corn with a combine, then returning to the field to try to reclaim the corn on the ground through one of several routes.
The additional fiber has good digestibility (55 to 70%) if snaplage is harvested in the proper moisture range (Soderlund et al., 2006). Many common corn disease pathogens such as Diplodia, Fusarium and Gibberella can attack both stalks and ears. We harvested about 40 acres near 30% and didn't harvest anything else until 3 weeks later.
John Maxwell, a grower who has supplied stover to the project since 2012, says there are several benefits of partial stover removal: reducing tillage (and associated labor and fuel costs), warming the soil for spring planting, reducing the number of overwintering insects and improving corn yield.
If the popcorn is "chewy" or the popped kernels are jagged, it is too wet and needs to continue drying. Stress-cracked kernels are more likely to be broken, produce smaller grits during dry milling, absorb water too rapidly during wet milling, and are more susceptible to insect and mold damage during storage.
Similarly, it can sometimes be difficult to accurately estimate whole-plant moisture from kernel milk-lines in frost-damaged corn. Other factors that can affect the quality of sweet corn include insect and disease damage and damage from hail, drought or other environmental conditions.
How do you know when the right time to pick an ear of sweet corn on your small farm or in your garden? The reliable way to obtain Corn is to find and harvest a corn plant. Harvest corn when the ears are at the peak of perfection. The corn can keep for years in the cool, dry, dark conditions there.
Combines equipped with Corn Harvest Pans showed a How Farms Work marked efficiency improvement over those using regular corn headers during the trials. Two corn kernels per square foot or one dropped ear per 100 feet of row equals about 1 bushel per acre yield loss. Harvesting corn silage at moisture levels above 70% will not only yield less but will result in seepage and a very undesirable clostridia fermentation.
Poor combine adjustment can result in more beating, shearing or pinching of grain, causing broken and damaged kernels. The other problem with corn harvesting is that unless you planted a succession of crops, every cob ripens pretty much at the same time. Growers should pay close attention to crop condition after physiological maturity, as well as grain moisture.
Plants are less successful on dry or heavy soil. After much of the research I have done on sweet corn, I have found that a stalk will produce between one and two usable cobs, in the variety I am planting. Crop conditions, including non-grain crop moisture, can change rapidly during autumn days.
Each ear is loaded with tiny kernels come harvest time, and three or four five-foot-long rows should be plenty. For that reason, grain quality experts suggest allowing corn to field dry below 20% moisture before harvesting. About 10 seconds after the head takes in the ears there will be clean, separated grain in the grain tank.