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Corn yield loss potential growing

Jeff Caldwell 11/04/2013 @ 11:11am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Rain is expected to swing through the Midwest this week, leaving the corn that's still standing in the field susceptible to mounting yield loss.

Snow is expected in the northern reaches of the Corn Belt this week, though forecasters are quick to point out that snow is not likely to cause much, if any, lodging in corn that's still standing in the field because it won't be accompanied by too much wind. But concerns about lodging will continue to grow the longer those plants are standing in the field, making it critical to start putting a premium on time in any harvest work from now on, says one expert.

"The potential for bad things happening increases considerably as we delay harvest beyond November 1," says Ohio State University Extension agronomist Peter Thomison. "While unfavorable weather might have kept some growers out of their fields, they should harvest as soon as possible. If we get into a wet period, a lot of our corn can weather rapidly. The drying benefits we get from delays decrease considerably with very cool temperatures."

If you're still holding out trying to get your crop to dry down in the field now vs. drying it mechanically in the bin, you've passed the point where that's the optimal approach, Thomison says.

"A crop with weak plant integrity is more vulnerable to yield losses from stalk lodging and ear drop when weathering conditions occur. The widespread root lodging that occurred as a result of windstorms in July is also contributing to plant integrity issues," he says. "We encourage growers to harvest now to lessen the impact of these weathering problems. A lot of people are letting corn dry in fields as long as it can, but we encourage people to harvest promptly because we typically don't see significant decreases in grain moisture after early to mid-November."

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