May 21, 2024

When to harvest lodged corn

Tips from Pioneer agronomist

Corn harvest is in full swing across the Midwest.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Adverse weather, stalk rots, rootworms and other factors can cause lodged corn, which can be problematic for farmers at harvest.

“Stressful conditions after flowering are what cause stalk issues,” said Carl Joern, Pioneer field agronomist.

“We’ve definitely seen the impact in the Midwest. You’ll want to prioritize those fields and harvest accordingly when it makes sense.”

However, if better-standing corn is ready for harvest, it may be more efficient and cost-effective to harvest it first, especially if there is a risk of lodging.

When harvesting lodged corn, slower than normal ground speeds are required to better pick up and save more ears, according to Pioneer.

Under severe stalk lodging conditions, harvesting against the direction of the lodging can be an advantage.

For flatter fields, the corn ear’s height may become a factor. If the ears are more than eight inches above the ground, the corn can be harvested with a low-profile corn head.

If the crop or ears are less than six inches above the ground, a reel mounted on a corn head or a soybean platform may be needed to harvest the crop.

In some cases, lodging worsens as time progresses. This is especially true if a stalk-rotting disease such as anthracnose is present. Those fields should be closely monitored and prioritized accordingly.

“If you experienced lodging, try to accurately diagnose the cause,” Joern said. “We can then leverage hybrid scoring when rotating back to corn in 2024 or 2025.”

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor