Machinery Chatter

Take Control of Grain Quality in Corn Harvest

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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While harvesting corn, farmers should make sure their combine settings are appropriately adjusted to minimize grain damage and fines, as both fines and damaged kernels are potential homes for mold growth and insects. (DTN file photo by Jim Patrico)

With harvest progressing across the Corn Belt, it seems like there are so many factors farmers cannot control that have a huge effect on their bottom lines. From low commodity prices to uncooperative weather, there are certain factors that, no matter how many hours they work in a day, farmers can do nothing about.

But there is at least one aspect of harvest that farmers can control, and that is preserving the quality of their harvested crops. Improperly harvested and stored grain can limit the amount of time the grain can be stored, can lead to issues with pests while the grain is stored, and ultimately can end up costing farmers money once the grain is sold.

To combat grain quality issues, University of Illinois Extension issued a tip sheet on Sept. 18 titled "Tips for Harvest Management and Preserving Grain Quality in Corn."

While harvesting, farmers should make sure their combine settings are appropriately adjusted to minimize grain damage and fines, as both fines and damaged kernels are potential homes for mold growth and insects. Farmers should continue to check field losses throughout harvest in order to limit the amount of damaged grain, the report said.

University of Illinois Extension recommends throwing a 1-square-foot frame in several different spots in a recently harvested area of the field. Then, count the number of kernels within the square foot, noting that for every two kernels found, about 1 bushel per acre is being lost.

While harvesting a field, farmers should also document any issues they come across. This can include issues with weeds, pests or disease. They should record when and where the observations were made so they can appropriately adjust their management strategy in the following years, according to the report.

Once the corn is harvested and put into storage, farmers should make sure the stored grain is at the appropriate moisture content.

If the corn is only going to be stored until early to midsummer, 14% to 15% moisture is typically recommended. If corn will be stored for longer periods, the grain should be stored at a lower moisture level to keep it in better condition and to help prevent mold growth.

University of Illinois Extension also recommends farmers continue to check grain temperature and moisture content of stored grain biweekly through the fall and once a month in the winter.

When the grain is checked, farmers should remember to keep a record of the grain temperature and moisture content as well as any signs of potential issues. This would include any signs of crusting, condensation, mold, leaks and any musty or unusual odors.

To read the entire University of Illinois Extension report on corn grain quality, visit the following link: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/…

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

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