31-33% moisture: that’s when corn reaches physiological maturity, or black layering, according to Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). But, harvesting corn above 28% can result in damage to the grain, difficult marketing and the burdens of attempting to dry in storage.
This late in the season, stalk quality may make the decision for you, as wind, rain or snow could substantially increase harvest losses. So the first thing you should do in making your decision to leave in the field or combine it, is to do the “push test,” says Peter Johnson, cereal specialist with OMAFRA, in the video below.
“If it’s going to stand then you either say, “I’m going to leave it out to mid-December or January or maybe next March,” because that’s how long it’s going to take to really make a difference in dropping that moisture, or ‘I bite the bullet and get it out of the field right now.'”
Why will it take that long? Well, according to Johnson, this far into November, corn will likely only lose 1% moisture per week.
“If we got really awesome weather, could we lose a percent and a half or two percent? Maybe, but most likely it’s one percent a week.” And that’s not taking into consideration all the gosh darn snow we’ve had in mid-November.
In this episode of the Corn School, Johnson further explains what factors are involved in deciding to harvest corn. He also explains the importance of proper combine settings and drying procedures for harvesting and improving low test weight, high moisture corn.