October 09, 2019

Agronomy Update: Let’s Talk About Harvest

BY Dairyland Seed


With the wet weather we experienced during the first week of October and the potential for more rain, wind, and in some areas snow, prioritizing which corn fields need to be harvested first, and which ones can wait, will be of great importance. In walking corn fields, we are seeing crown and stalk rots already having an effect on plant health, as well as standability. It has been my experience that once we get into October and November,  the more wind events we receive, making standability less and less likely, or so it seems. The photo below shows a corn plant with Fusarium that has both crown and stalk rot.

In most situations the reasons we are seeing more crown and stalk rots this year compared to other years, is being forced to plant in “less than ideal conditions” which forced many corn plants to be subjected to cool or cold water early in its growth cycle. Sidewall compaction, fertility deficiencies as well as cool wet soils increase the incidence of crown and stalk diseases.

The disease that I believe most prevalent this will be Fusarium. Other diseases that I anticipate seeing due to our cooler wetter growing season will be:

The procedure that I follow to check fields is to review which fields were planted in “less than ideal conditions” as well shorter day hybrids and scout them first. I will then walk across a portion of the field and perform Pinch, Push, Shove and Slash tests along the way looking at both green healthy plants and also plants that are yellow/tan and or stunted:

The more plants that fail these tests increases the odds that you will need to harvest that field early or move it up in the harvest schedule. Remember that these affected plants will be more susceptible to wind damage the longer the harvest window gets.

Having and following a harvest order decreases the likelihood of harvesting down corn, and increases the likelihood of capturing more yield but also having a safer and less stressful harvest season.



Weather delays have continued with silage still standing in the field for most farmers. Once the weather clears, what should we do? GO CHOP! Well, that seems to be an obvious answer, but check out these points as you dive in.

- Increase yield by 0.6 T/Ac dry matter on average. 0.3T in 2017 and 0.9T in 2018.

- Increase moisture content by 2.6 points. The lower stalk is the wettest part of the plant.

- Decrease NDFd % by 4.3 points.

- Decrease starch % by 2.8 points.

- Milk/Ac and milk/T differences have been minimal for us, but more robust university testing has found increases in milk/ac by 1.7% and decreases in lb milk/ton by 5.2%

- Our research agrees quite well with university studies. Penn State University offers a great summary here: https://extension.psu.edu/considerations-in-managing-cutting-height-of-corn-silage



When you have a chance, check your corn fields prior to harvest for ear rots.  The most common ear rots are Diplodia, Gibberella, Fusarium and Aspergillis. All may produce Mycotoxins except for Diplodia.  It is important that the ear rot be identified and possibly be checked for mycotoxins prior to harvest so that risk reduction measures can be taken.  If ear rot is discovered:

Common Ear Rot ID





Please contact your Dairyland Seed agronomy team member if you need assistance in identifying any ear rot concerns.


Brian Weller
Western Region
Dan Ritter
Central Region
Branden Furseth
Northern Region
Rod King
Eastern Region
Terry Jones
Eastern Region
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