6 Tips to Effectively Harvest Lodged Corn
Harvesting lodged corn requires special attention and techniques to maximize yield while minimizing crop damage. While lodged corn can negatively impact yield, preparing for harvest with the following tips can set your operation up for success.
What Is Lodged Corn?
Lodged corn refers to corn plants that have fallen or leaned over due to strong winds, heavy rain, weak root systems, or other plant health challenges. When this occurs, plants are more susceptible to diseases, have reduced access to sunlight and often deteriorate in grain quality.
Lodged corn also makes it difficult for equipment to efficiently pass through the field, resulting in more challenging harvesting processes, slower harvesting times and increased yield losses of 5-25%.1
Measuring losses in the field can help adjust your harvest strategy. For example, every 3/4-lb ear in a hundredth of an acre plot equals a loss of one bushel per acre.2 You may need to check unharvested areas ahead of the combine to mitigate excessive losses. Look for dropped ears by walking through the field and kicking stalks on the ground.
A potential risk at any stage of corn growth from early vegetative to late reproductive stages, lodging is a common challenge — but you can still ensure yield success with an effective harvest strategy.
How to Harvest Lodged Corn
Every field and situation may require a different approach, so it’s important to adapt these steps to your unique circumstances. Here are some recommended steps to effectively harvest lodged corn and minimize yield losses.
1. Adjust Combine Settings
Ensure harvesting equipment is properly adjusted to handle lodged corn. Lower the header height to pick up fallen plants and adjust the gathering chains or augers to ensure a smooth flow of corn into the combine.
2. Adjust the Corn Head Angle
Adjust the corn head angle to match the direction of the lodged corn. In some cases, use a corn head equipped with stalk rollers. These rollers break up lodged corn and improve the feeding of the plants into the combine.
3. Slow Down
You may also want to slow down your combine speed to 2 mph3 to be sure that grain separates from the stalks. You will pick up more lodged ears by slowing down, increasing your overall yield.
4. Use a Grain Cart
A grain cart allows you to unload the combine more frequently and efficiently, reducing weight and strain on the combine and handling the lodged corn more effectively. Grain carts also minimize soil compaction compared to large trucks or trailers, which can negatively impact crop growth in subsequent seasons.
5. Harvest in Dry Conditions
Corn should be harvested at moisture levels appropriate for storage. Wet corn can be prone to mold and spoilage during storage. Wait for the corn to dry before harvesting as dry conditions reduce the risk of further lodging and make it easier for the combine to separate the grain from the stalks. It also reduces the risk of field damage caused by heavy machinery.
6. Prioritize Harvesting Lodged Areas
Harvest lodged areas first to prevent further damage and losses. This allows you to salvage as much of the crop as possible before moving on to standing corn. In severe lodging conditions, harvest against the direction of the lodging and adjust your gathering chains as closely as possible to grip rotten stalks.
Prepare For Harvest with FBN Direct
With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN Direct can help you get the products you need to protect your crops.
Related FBN Resources
© 2014 - 2023 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, “FBN Direct” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. This content was written by Norm℠, reviewed and edited by Mark Wilson.
FBN Direct products and services and other products distributed by FBN Direct are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed and where those products are registered for sale or use, if applicable. If applicable, please check with your local extension service to ensure registration status. Nothing contained on this page, including the prices listed should be construed as an offer for sale, or a sale of products. All products and prices are subject to change at any time and without notice and excludes CA mills tax and MN ACRRA fees. Terms and conditions apply.
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix and that the usage of a product is otherwise consistent with federal, state and local laws. We reserve the right to restrict sales on a geographic basis in our sole discretion. You must have a valid applicator license to use restricted use pesticides. Please consult your state department of agriculture for complete rules and regulations on the use of restricted use pesticides, as some products require specific record-keeping requirements.
All product recommendations and other information provided is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for consulting the product label or for specific agronomic, business,or professional advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consult with a qualified advisor. Neither Farmer's Business Network Inc. nor any of its affiliates makes any representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the statements or any information contained in the material and any liability therefore is expressly disclaimed.