Evaluate Field Health To Prioritize Harvest And Preserve Yield


   As the growing season progresses to the maturity stage, it’s a good time to evaluate your crop and consider harvest plans. Many farmers approach harvest pragmatically, analyzing the logistics of moving machinery and computing the hauling distance for grain storage or sale. 
   Harvesting a crop based on logistic parameters isn’t a bad strategy; however, if your goal is to harvest as many corn bushels as possible, it’s important to evaluate the plant health of each field. 

   Because most of the Corn Belt experienced wet spring weather and conditions favorable for disease during the growing season, Channel    Seedsmen are on the lookout for path ogens that can stress corn plants and significantly reduce yields. Gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight are primary foliar disease pathogens for which our Seedsmen are looking. Anthracnose stalk rots and other stalk diseases could also affect plant health as grain fill progresses. 
   Channel Seedsmen use two tests to evaluate plant health during the maturity stage: the push test and the pinch test. For both tests, sample 20 plants in five representative field locations. If 10-15 percent or more of plants fail either test, the field is at risk for severe st alk lodging and should be prioritized for harvest to prevent losing yield due to downed corn. 
   The push test helps determine the sturdiness of corn stalks and simulates a wind event. To perform the test, push a stalk to a 45-degree angle or until the tassel touches the tassel of the next row. If the stalk buckles, it could be cannibalized or have stalk rot. 
   For the pinch test, squeeze stalks between the second and third node from the ground. Hollow stalks might make a popping sound as air within the stalk rind compresses. 
   Channel Seedsmen are experts at evaluating plant health and can help you prioritize and time fields for harvest. Visit to connect with a Seedsman in your area. ∆
   TAMMY OTT: Channel Technical Agronomist
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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