By Matt Reese
As harvest wears on, some corn growers are seeing low yields get even lower as a result of ears falling off the plants prior to harvest.
“The corn yields we’re seeing are between 75 and 125 bushels per acre,” said Clarence Steiner, who farms in Wayne County. “Ears are dropping because the plants are stressed and they aren’t attached really well. The ears are out here dropping before we even get out there with the combine. You cans see them when you’re walking through the fields. I would say we’re losing an ear every 12 feet or so and, the sad thing is, that it is the biggest ears that are dropping because they are heavier.”
The worst problem he has seen is around Kidron and to the south down around Mt. Hope. Steiner is about halfway done harvesting corn.
“Once guys see their ears dropping they get after harvest pretty fast,” he said. “If you have children, tell them to go out and harvest the corn on the ground and feed the hogs.”
Generally, the problem with dropping ears is most severe when extreme high temperatures occur at R1 (silking), which can result in a weak shank attachment, according to Monsanto agronomists. The plants can recover from the initial stress at early R1 and produce normal grain on the upper part of the ear, but this can produce more weight on the ear tip than the weakened shank can support. In addition, ear shanks can be cannibalized for carbohydrates by the ear just like the main stalk.
Fields with ear drop problems should be harvested immediately with the corn head as high as possible while adjusting ground and header speed for maximum ear retention. If loss is significant, plans should be made to reduce the amount of potential volunteer corn the following season, Monsanto agronomists said.