October 16, 2021

Channel Field Check Up Series: High test weight tied to grain quality

The common belief in farm country is that high test weight grain and high grain yields go hand in hand. Although the emphasis is on grain yield in the field, at the elevator high test weight grain is more profitable.

So, what affects test weight and profit per bushel at the elevator? When it comes to drying grain, remember that test weight and grain moisture are inversely related.

Grain with high moisture will have lower test weight at the point in time it is measured. But as grain dries in the field or dryer, test weight naturally increases as moisture leaves the kernel and it shrinks, keeping the valuable starch intact.

Your Channel Seedsman can help you estimate yield and moisture levels to ensure a timely harvest and identify fields to prioritize.

The caveat to high starch and high grain weight is that the integrity of the kernel is essential. Damaged kernels lower test weight due to damaged endosperm, resulting in less starch. With damaged kernels, drying produces chaffy, light-weight grain.

For next season’s crop, farmers should consider factors that impact grain weight. Among corn products, there can be a lot of variability in test weight, but planting a product with the agronomics best adapted for a field environment is key to great results.

Test weight can be reduced by the plant stressors that inhibit photosynthesis: drought, late-season leaf diseases, weak stalks and cooler temperatures.

An early frost or freeze will put an end to grain development in immature fields. Ear drop and poor combine operation will reduce test weight as well as damaged kernels from ear rots and mycotoxins.

In Illinois, to protect grain quality and maintain high test weight, farmers should consider a VT-R1 application of fungicide to control the fungal pathogens most concerning to us and to help ensure healthy plants during the grain fill period.

Harvesting corn between 20% and 25% moisture helps maximize both yield and grain quality, followed by mechanical drying to 15% moisture to maintain grain quality during storage.

In the short term this season, farmers can closely watch moisture levels. For next season, farmers can plan to grow the best-quality product possible.

Your local Channel Seedsman can help you accomplish both goals. To find your Channel Seedsman and access more agronomy tips and insights, visit Channel.com.

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