It’s hard to predict exactly what harvest will bring this year, and there’s no doubt the coming weeks will look completely different from one location to the next.
“Each harvest brings unique challenges that depend on weather, the time crops were planted and overall condition of crops from the growing season,” says Brad Burkhart, market development specialist, Corteva Agriscience. “Retailers are in a great position to help their customers overcome those challenges. There are also a few steps any farmer can take now to set the stage for a successful harvest."
Here are three of Burkhart’s top tips to help you and your customers end the season on a high note.
1. Ensure equipment is ready to roll. Your customers have likely been prepping equipment in their own shop or working with their equipment dealer for quite some time. But, with anything, unexpected problems can pop up once harvest starts.
Ensure everything from combines to trucks, tractors, grain carts and grain drying equipment is in working order. It only takes two kernels per square foot to lose 1 bushel per acre at harvest, so customers will want to ensure the equipment is set up to maximize grain capture based on the conditions of their crop.1
2. Perform preharvest scouting. This is a great time to check for problems like weeds, crop disease symptoms, stalk quality issues and potential nitrogen loss. Taking detailed notes will help improve your customers’ crop protection plans for next year. If, for example, you find weeds like waterhemp in certain areas, you can make sure to tailor a program approach to protect those acres from waterhemp next season.
You also can encourage your customers to take measures now that reduce the spread of weeds and/or disease from field to field as harvest gets underway. A simple step that customers can take is to harvest the cleanest fields first and save the more heavily infested fields last.
3. Closely monitor crop conditions to get the timing right. Harvest timing impacts grain quality, storability and potential yield loss. Drought stress can have a significant negative impact on grain fill. Dry conditions can make plants more vulnerable to pests and disease. All of this can significantly reduce yield and hurt your customers’ bottom line. So keeping an eye on the forecast and, again, scouting regularly are very important this time of year.
“If growers harvest too early and don’t allow proper drydown, they will need to take additional measures to dry the grain, which ultimately increases drying costs,” Burkhart says. “On the flip side, when corn is harvested too late, growers risk deterioration of the crop, which reduces harvestable yield and quality.”
This article provides additional information and considerations for timing corn harvest.
Get additional insights on fall weed control and harvest preparation in this podcast recording from DTN/Progressive Farmer and Corteva.
1 Pre-harvest considerations for corn. University of Minnesota Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/corn-harvest/pre-harvest-considerations-corn