In many parts of the Corn Belt, the crop is ahead of what farmers typically expect. With the potential for an earlier harvest, brush up on your corn staging skills to make sure you get crops out of the field at the optimum time.
“If you look at growing degree units we’re some 250 to 300 GDDs ahead of normal,” says Brent Tharp, Wyffels agronomy and product training manager. “I would expect to be harvesting two weeks earlier than normal.”
Get out and scout corn fields to find out just how far ahead they are. Visit five to 10 locations across fields and pull a couple ears. After peeling back the husks, look at the tops of the kernels. If there is a noticeable dent, the crop is out of the dough stage and into dent. If dents are spotty throughout the ear it’s probably early dent.
“That means we’re 20 days out from black layer,” Tharp says. “That’s when corn is at maturity and from then on it’s dry down.”
After dent, farmers will find a noticeable milk line on kernels. The closer that line is to the bottom of the kernel, the closer the crop is to black layer. Once the crop hits black layer it’s down to about 35% moisture and means harvest is just a week or two away, depending on drying capacity.
Prioritize harvesting fields that are further along, or fields that have disease pressure to make sure every bushel is captured.