The remnants of Hurricane Irene that passed through last weekend caused significant wind damage to cornfields throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.
Damage appears to be rather widespread, with root lodging in some areas.
There is also some leaf shredding that has occurred causing fields to smell like hail damaged corn often does. Apparently soils were saturated before the wind occurred.
At this point, producers should not panic and focus first on fields that have significant amounts of corn that is broken off or lying on the ground. This would be at most risk for developing moldy ears and low test weight grain and has the least recovery potential.
For these fields, a silage harvest might be most appropriate.
Fields that are just leaning or with limited patches of down corn may not have serious issues on grain quality or yield and should recover somewhat.
In the past many lodged fields have been salvaged for silage or grain, but harvest has been slow.
Corn that is not broken off and leaning or bent over should mature at a slower pace, but eventually reach physiological maturity.
There is some risk of increased ear molds on this corn, so we should be monitoring ear development and ear molds during the drydown. I would monitor these fields as they mature and harvest rapidly if significant ear molds begin to develop.
Otherwise, I would try to let the crop mature until it reaches the desired moisture for ensiling or shelled corn harvest.
The best of the lodged fields to consider for shelled corn harvest would be those that have already developed a milk line and started to mature and those that have a limited amount of down corn.
Specialized harvesting equipment is available for harvesting down corn for grain — we have compiled a list of manufacturers at http://cornandsoybeans.psu.edu/lodgeequipment.cfm.
Producers who feel they may have a crop insurance claim with severely damaged crops should also review their situation and plans with their crop insurance agent and get a clear answer on how to proceed.