Corn harvest is coming quickly. When it comes to temperatures, the last month has been everything we could have hoped for. The corn crop is progressing quickly and is even outpacing soybeans right now. The downside is that most areas have missed out on precipitation over the last few weeks.
That stress, in combination with saturated conditions last spring, has me a little concerned about cannibalization of the stalk as well as stalk rot.
A handful of fields that were planted the first week of May are already past black layer, and I have heard a couple reports of combines starting harvest on 27% moisture corn already. Recently, I was in Milbank, SD, and the 92-day corn planted on May 18 had a few black-layered kernels.
For those crops planted around the 20th, the fields should be close to black layer between the 20th and 30th of September.
These next couple weeks are the perfect time to get out and build your harvest order: pinch the internodes, split stalks and get a good understanding of how your crop looks.
Notice the two pictures below: the cannibalized stalk was half the weight of the clean one, and these were only 100’ apart. The difference is the bad one was growing in lighter-droughted soil and the good one in heavier ground. Knowing this in advance will make for fewer headaches and surprises a month from now when it’s time to stage your corn harvest.