A large majority of the corn in our county is at black layer stage, and some has already been pulled. I have talked with growers, and many are planning to start harvesting next week as well if the weather allows for it. Conditions like we have had are great for the development of ear molds and kernel rot, which can reduce yield, quality, and produce mycotoxins (including aflatoxin). Extension Corn Specialist, Dr. Reagan Noland has informed us of the risks and has a few recommendations for this year’s harvest to help avoid them:
- Harvest early (or at least “on-time”) – The longer corn sits in the field in our hot, humid environment with the ever-present chance of rain in the forecast, the worse these molds will get. Encourage growers to harvest as soon as corn is ready to minimize this risk.
- Set fans high – smaller kernels near the tip of the ear tend to have the greatest infection. Our best opportunity to “clean” the grain is to blow small and infected kernels out the back of the combine during harvest.
- Dry and cool grain quickly – A major condition of early harvest (at high moisture) is that growers will need to immediately dry grain down and practice sound grain storage (if they are storing it). Storing grain too wet and too warm will favor fungal growth and greater infection.