The Problem of Downed Corn

It's been a challenging harvest for corn farmers in Nebraska. Extension experts say they are continuing to get reports of downed corn across the state.

Rain before harvest and during harvest increased stalk rots, and all of the wind the week of October 23rd contributed to ears falling on the ground and not getting picked up by the combines. There is quite a bit of corn on the ground. "I've been hearing anywhere from 2 bushels to more than 100 bushels on the ground," Nebraska Extension educator Jenny Rees said.

Rees says there are a couple of ways to see how many bushels per acre in loss a farmer might have. One way is to take your combine width, measure that in rows, then measure one one-hundreth of an acre and count the ears in the area that are down to get an idea of how many bushels per acre. An average corn ear would be considered about one bushel an acre loss. Another way is to take 3 100-foot counts in three different areas of the field. Take the total number of ears, divide by two, and that would give you an approximate bushel per acre loss.

Experts say it's to know the bushel per acre loss if farmers are looking to have cattle graze on the field. If there is too much corn down on the ground, it could be unhealthy for the cattle. A couple of articles from outline this problem and how to deal with this. Here are links to those articles: and

Other options for dealing with downed corn is to rake the corn residue up using a combine pickup attachment, and then running the combine through the windrow of stalks. This can be dirty and hard on a combine, but it can pick up between 75% and 80% of the downed corn. Another idea is to simply rake and bale the stalks and corn, and sell it. One other suggestion is to disk the field in the fall or early spring, and then plan on using herbicides to knock down any volunteer corn in the field in the spring.

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