Unusually warm weather in Iowa the second week of October led to rapid in-field drying of crops. Many farmers now find corn at 11 to 14 percent moisture content in the field. Excessively dry corn is more brittle and susceptible to mechanical damage during harvest. Dr. Charles Hurburgh notes that corn breakage potential increases by a factor of 2 for every 2 points of moisture below 16%.
The primary risk of breakage occurs in the threshing cylinder. Because threshing of drier corn is easier, it may be possible to maintain efficient threshing while adjusting settings to be less aggressive. If unacceptable breakage is occurring, try reducing cylinder speed and/or opening concave clearance. Check for complete threshing as you make adjustments. Remember that extra mechanical damage during harvest increases the need for coring bins after they are filled.
One more challenge for 2020. Stay safe. Take care of yourself. We’ll get through this together.