Determining a Harvest Start Date

This year, there were several factors that greatly influenced our harvest start date. We’re in a wind tunnel in our area, and over the last 3-4 years, we've had a much higher likelihood of corn going down, so our belief is ‘get it when it's standing.’

In early September, Josh, my AgVenture Yield Specialist, came out to do some yield and moisture checks. We noticed we were at a higher moisture level than usual because we put fungicide on all of our acres; and fungicide keeps us 2–3% wetter. In addition, most of our corn this year is a longer season crop — about 107–113-day corn — so it matured a little later than what our neighbors planted. Between the higher moisture levels and the long season corn, we just weren’t ready to cut when our neighbors were; but that’s okay. We wanted to be confident that our crop could reach its full potential and that our harvest schedule was on point, so we made the decision to start harvest in mid-September.

Phantom yield loss was another factor that affected our start date. My father has preached this to me for years, and I refused to believe that it existed; I didn’t see any evidence that yields were higher if harvested at the beginning of the season rather than at the end. But as I became a bigger part of the operation, I came to realize that it’s real. I noticed that when we harvested our silage at a higher moisture, it adds up a whole lot quicker than when you harvest it dry. Now, based on that and what we read from Robert Corzatt in the latest AgVenture Forward Progress magazine regarding phantom yield loss, I’ve become a true believer. We started running this year at 23-24% moisture, which is a bit earlier than I would normally have harvested. It just goes to show that by looking at the data, we can make little changes that really pay off.