My colleague at Purdue, Bob Nielsen, recently wrote an excellent article on corn yield potential at later growth stages.
The major points from Bob's article are as follows: corn in the dough stage is at 50 percent of its yield potential. When every kernel is dented, corn is at 60 percent of its yield potential. Corn at half milk line is at about 88 percent yield potential.
As we have gotten drier in some areas of Kentucky, our corn that is not at black layer is losing yield potential. But, we started out at very good yield potential, so overall yields should be very strong.
The capacity to handle a large corn crop in central and eastern Kentucky is a concern. We have excellent yields in the corn fields and I don’t think we have the trucking, drying and storage capacity to handle this much corn.
Farmers in these areas are used to letting corn dry in the field. Yet, with the very strong yield potential and frequent rains early, most corn has shallow roots, has heavy ears, suffers from a lack of nitrogen and may have late-season diseases.
All of these factors point towards weaker stalks. Also, because black layer is occurring later this year, dry down will take longer (assuming that September and October have “normal” weather).
So, while many farmers will want to wait for the corn to dry down, they are at as much risk as ever for having that corn fall over at some point during dry down period.
Farmers in central and eastern Kentucky will want to secure trucks and/or expand storage if possible. Farmers with on-farm storage need to inspect their systems now, which includes cleaning out bins and augers, removing weeds around bins (to reduce risk of rodents), and repair any holes, fans or dryers.
More information on grain storage is available at the Grain Storage Systems website. Options are also available to partially fill small bins and dry grain that way. Again, the Grain Storage Systems website is a place to start.
(With the corn crop running late, wheat seeding will also be delayed. For suggestions on how to handle that situation, see Late Kentucky corn crop will likely delay wheat seeding. And for a visual explanation of why corn is in danger of lodging and a look at the actual harvesting of down corn, see Lodged corn at harvest a problem for Florida growers).