The Importance of Starting Harvest Early
Leaving corn in the field until its moisture levels are below 20% could actually cost you more than drying grain. Experts say that growers must weigh the risk of severe lodging and resulting yield losses when they allow corn to dry too long in the field.
The optimum harvest moisture for corn is about 23-25%. Kernels shell easily and stalks generally stand better at this moisture level. With a timely and efficient combining, normal harvest loss is about 1 or 2%. Harvest losses increase by 2 to 8% above the normal level if corn dries down too much in the field. Most harvest losses are caused by kernel shattering or corn never getting into the combine. As stalk lodging and ear dropping increases, the more corn dries down in the field.
Balance is needed between field dry down and harvest loss. These spreadsheets show the importance of starting harvest early.