Corn Isn’t Off But Farmers Should Try To Finish

The last field crop to be harvested in Ontario is generally grain corn. This harvest window can vary in ease depending on the weather conditions throughout the fall and early winter. Farmers try to harvest corn when the ground is dry enough for heavy equipment to be on and not compact the soil or impact soil structure. Also, farmers try to harvest their corn before storms with high winds move in threatening to blow corn down loosing yield and making harvest difficult.

This season has been difficult for harvesting soybeans and corn. The cornfields are generally too wet to move into without causing soil compaction due to rain every couple of days. As a result there is still a lot of the Ontario corn crop left in the field as farmers wait for their wetter fields to dry up. While waiting we have had several storms move in with high winds threatening the standability of that corn. Surprisingly corn standability has been good in some areas that may be due to genetics in new hybrid varieties.

Looking at the forecast I think that farmers should be on the move now trying to get the crop off as the days of heat are over lets just get the job done. With the below freezing temperatures lately maybe some fields will be more stable but if not plan to minimize the compaction as some Ontario agronomists have suggested. Control your field traffic and make more trips across with lighter loads.


2 thoughts on “Corn Isn’t Off But Farmers Should Try To Finish

  1. Owen Roberts

    Very informative post, as always. Thank you.
    Are there downsides to stalks with greater standability…harder to get through the harvester, perhaps? Harder to breakdown when incorporated into the soil?

  2. buddc Post author

    Thanks Owen and yes there have been concerns from farmers about how tough corn stalk residue can be. Several farmers feel that hybrids today are tougher to breakdown after harvest and overwinter then earlier ones. These thoughts make sense when we see that newer hybrids are standing better throughout the growing season but there may be a couple of reasons why they seem to breakdown less. If your looking at a field in the spring seeing most of the stalk residue hasn’t broken down much you need to think about what the weather had been like over the winter, when was it harvested and are the stalks intact or were they chopped for example. Weather is one of the main factors in breaking down corn residue. If the stalks are not exposed to the weather it may be difficult for them to actually break down. I was told by one of my professors that he feels chopped corn stalks laying on the field like a blanket are covered by the snow throughout winter and not as exposed for breakdown as they would be left standing. I’m still unsure of whether I agree with that completely as it depends on the weather and other parts of the cropping system particular to that farm. If the residue is incorporated into the soil the soil organisms can help breakdown this material and eventually become part of the organic matter. If the residue is left on top, it may not breakdown as quickly but there are other benefits to the soil being covered that minimum or no-till (planting a crop without tilling the land before) farmers are seeing and they are less concerned about residue breakdown.


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