How Farmers Know When Corn Is Ready to Harvest

Corn, a staple crop in the United States, is harvested when it reaches its optimal maturity. The process of determining when corn is ready for harvest involves a combination of visual checks, touch, and an understanding of the specific corn variety's growth cycle.

How Farmers Know When Corn Is Ready to Harvest

Farmers often begin by noting the number of days until harvest for the particular corn variety they're growing. This information, usually provided by seed suppliers, gives a rough estimate of when the corn should be ready. However, it's just a guideline, as weather conditions and other environmental factors can influence the growth rate.

In terms of timing, the harvest season for corn in the United States varies depending on the region and the type of corn being grown. Generally, sweet corn, which is typically eaten fresh, is harvested in mid to late summer. Field corn, which is used for animal feed, ethanol production, and other industrial uses, is usually harvested in the fall, starting in September and often extending into November.

The decision to start the harvest depends on several factors, including total acres, relative maturities (RMs) planted, and access to grain drying and harvest equipment. Corn must be dry enough to store without spoiling, so farmers may leave the corn in the field to dry naturally before harvesting.

However, here are three telltale signs that you’ll know when corn is ready to harvest!

1. Silk Turns Brown
One of the most common ways farmers ascertain if the corn is ready for harvest is by inspecting the silk. Silk is the tassel-like material that emerges from the top of an ear of corn. Approximately 20 days after the silk first appears, the corn should be ready for harvest. At this point, the silk turns brown, but the husks remain green.

2. Kernels Are Milky Inside
Another way to check the corn's readiness is by feeling the kernels. Mature kernels should feel firm to the touch. If a kernel is punctured and the liquid inside appears milky, this is a good sign that the corn is ripe. On the other hand, if the liquid is clear, the corn needs more time to mature.

3. Kernel Tips Are Closed Off from Cob
A farmer also knows that the corn is ready when the plant stops filling the kernel with starch, and the tip of the kernel is closed off from the cob. This indicates that the kernel has reached its maximum size and is ready to be harvested.

How Farmers Know When Corn Is Ready to Harvest

Determining when corn is ready for harvest requires a combination of knowledge, experience, and observation. By paying close attention to their crops and using a variety of indicators, farmers can ensure they harvest their corn at the optimal time, maximizing both the yield and quality of their crop.

1 comment

  1. This post was so interesting to read and I really learned a lot. I have always been interested in agriculture.
    heather hgtempaddy


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