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Ohio State University Extension


Battle for the Belt: Episode 31

Example of down ears.

Episode 31 of Battle for the Belt is now available:

In episode 31, we talk to Agronomic Systems Field Specialist, Greg LaBarge, about corn harvest and storage considerations.

Corn Storage Considerations

When deciding to harvest high-moisture corn and dry on the farm or at the elevator or leave in the field to dry, there are factors to consider.

A three-year study at three locations in Ohio conducted by Peter Thomison evaluated the effect of delayed harvest on four different corn hybrids with four different populations (24,000, 30,000, 36,000, and 42,000 plants/acre). Corn was harvested in early to mid-October, November, and December.

There were yield losses with delayed harvests, a 2% yield loss between early to mid-October and early to mid-November harvest dates. The December harvest date incurred a yield loss of 11% compared to the November harvest date. Averaged across all locations and years, there was a 13% average yield loss.

Overall, grain moisture showed a decrease between October and November at an average of 6%. However, after November grain moisture only decreased by 0.5%. There were hybrid differences in moisture at the October harvest dates but the differences after October were small.

High populations tended to increase yield with timely harvest in October but in later harvest dates, yields began to decline with populations that are higher than 30,000 plants per acre.

Hybrids that have weaker stalks when harvested in November and December had increased stalk rot, lodging, and yield loss, but when harvested on time, these issues were not present. However, stalk rot had the most incidence between October and November, while lodging began after the November harvests.

Delay in harvest did not affect grain quality in oil, protein, starch, and kernel breakage. There is a tool available with the University of Wisconsin to evaluate your field loss risk versus your cost day of harvest. To get the tool click here, look for “Harvest Field Loss Calculator”.

For this field season, we did have drought conditions that can decrease stalk quality. Reducing stalk strength increases the risk of lodging, so before harvest, it is beneficial to do the pinch test on the stalk to evaluate stalk strength or push the stalk to a 30-degree angle. If 10 to 15% of the stalks lodge, then that field should be higher on the harvest priority list. Take into consideration if the ear is upright or down and the amount of disease on the ear. Fields with higher rates of disease like Diplodia Ear Rot (Figure 2) should be harvested sooner to avoid more disease development and storability concerns.

Figure 2. Diplodia Ear Rot at the Wooster Location.

Battle For the Belt Location Updates

This week, we completed disease ratings in corn at the Wooster location. Planting date five reached R5 and had a low incidence of Tar Spot throughout.  The rest of the planting dates in corn have reached R6 and are drying down for harvest. The soybeans are all at R7 except for planting date five. Planting date three has been senescing faster than planting dates one and two.

We began to hand harvest 3 feet of row of soybeans to count branches and measure plant height in soybeans at the Western location. We collected soybeans out of planting dates one, two, and three, all at R8. The corn is all at R6 stage, drying down in the field.

At the Northwest location soybeans were at the end of R7 in planting dates one, two, and three (Figure 3). Planting date four just entered R7 and planting date five is at R6.  All of the corn is completely at R6, drying down as well.

Figure 3. Planting date one soybeans at the Northwest Research Station.

Table 1. Planting dates one, two, three, four, and five in the trial at all three locations with day of planting, precipitation, soil, air temperature averages, and Growing Degree Days (GDDS). Information from CFAES Weather System,


Keep following the ‘Battle for the Belt’ this growing season to learn more and get further updates! You can find the full video playlist of Battle for the Belt on the Ohio State Agronomy YouTube channel.


Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.