Harvest off to slow: Prepare for longer drying times

A soybean field awaits harvest. Although harvest is delayed for many farmers due to late planting, some growers have started the process.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The good news is Indiana’s corn crop progress is continuing at a record pace.

The bad news is it’s a record slow pace in terms of maturity, said Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist.

“We’re dealing with situations that require some good weather for the next 30 to 45 days to not only mature the crop, but also to allow for some satisfactory dry down of the grain in the field before harvest,” Nielsen said.

“It’s been this slow all season, beginning with planting. The crop has continued to develop at a later than normal rate.”

Although it’s likely too late to warrant fungicide applications, it’s worth the effort to walk fields and identify diseases.

Diseases such as grey leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, southern rust and tar spot have been found in fields throughout the state.

“Again, I would encourage people to walk fields for any number of reasons,” Nielsen said. “One of which is to document what diseases they have. That might give them a little bit of thought for next year, in terms of being ready.

“Certainly while they’re walking fields, they need to be looking for any evidence of stalk rot, or stalks that are very weak and may be subject to falling over with a strong windstorm.”

Vulnerable fields may need to be harvested sooner. Stronger fields can be saved for later.

“Be aware that, because it’s going to be a late start to harvest with the late crop maturity, depending on the weather over the few weeks, that will have a big influence on dry down in the field,” Nielsen said.

“If they have not already prepared to do more mechanical drying of grain after harvest than they usually do, they certainly need to be thinking about that. I think there’s going to be a need for much more artificial drying this year.”

Jason Harmon, technical agronomist at DEKALB, said that corn diseases like tar spot have the potential to affect yields in Indiana’s northwest region.

Fields in which fungicides such as Delaro have been applied have responded well to disease pressure, Harmon said.

“The biggest thing is, when you destroy that photosynthesis factory, you’re opening it up for less kernel depth,” he said. “We get 60 days after pollination to get a large kernel.

“When you shut down that factory, it makes the chances of getting that kernel depth that adds to yield, less and less. And then there’s also harvestability and overall stalk quality.

“We’re seeing a lot of crown rot issues coming about.”

Harmon expects to see variability of corn quality and yields.

“It’s coming down to a field-by-field situation, where you may have to come in a little early on this half versus the other half, just to get it out of the field before a windstorm comes and makes harvesting a logistical nightmare,” he said.

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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