Harvesting Downed Corn

Harvesting Downed Corn

Hand harvesting downed corn in western Nebraska

November 2, 2012

Story and photos by Bob Klein, UNL Extension Western Nebraska Crops Specialist

Growers in north central and western Nebraska continued to work this week to harvest corn downed by a mid-October storm with winds of up to 80 mph. Losses were large in many affected fields.  In one case a farmer was harvesting 230 bu/ac corn from a field before the storm; afterward, just 130 bu/ac. Another grower reported the early harvest of a field at 180 bu/ac and when he got back in to finish harvest, he could pick up just 40 bu/ac with a corn head. Many were raking the ears and plant material into windrows where it could be harvested (see Oct. 26 CropWatch story).

Producers still looking to harvest these fields may want to consider leaving a planter-width of uncut residue to trap blowing residue and snow moisture. This practice will be more valuable if the rows are at a right angle to the prevailing winds.

Before starting a rescue harvest, growers should consult their FSA and crop insurance offices.

      Figure 1 (above). Hand harvesting was possible in this large plot area, but was slow, with one person only able to harvest one acre a day. Figures 2-5 (below, from upper left). Rakes are being used to gather plant material and ears into windrows where a combine with a pick-up head attachment can pick up the windrows and thresh the ears. In this process, everything goes through the combine. Figure 6. Early harvested field where plant material remains anchored (on left) compared to one where the loose, cut plant material covers the field.
 Harvesting downed corn    Windrows of cut corn stalks and ears
 Combined harvesting downed corn    Combine in field harvesting downed corn

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