The Challenge of Challenging Ears

The Challenge of Challenging Ears from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Keith Byerly

by Keith Byerly

As I have watched via twitter over the last couple of weeks, whether it be the Farm Journal Pro Farmer Crop tour, general pictures on twitter, or just comments, we have some corn out there with less than pretty ears. We have some nice looking corn, but this year, you can go from great ears to structurally challenged in a very small distance. It goes back to several factors throughout the year. Poor emergence from cool weather, some pollination issues from the hot, dry weather, a bit of drought and a cool August have all contributed to some ear and kernel development issues in places. So, the question I have is what can we do to capture those ears and kernels, and is it fiscally prudent to do so?

So in my mind, we have three choices when it comes to those nubbin ears and the small kernels on the tip of the ears. Choice number 1 is to ignore them. We set our deck plates as narrow as we can, and we go. We will capture some of what is small, but we will probably not see any advantage because we are running more trash through the combine and in all likelihood, we will spit it out the back end.

Choice 2 is to start harvesting at 22%-25% moisture. We will reduce our head loss on all of our grain, and also see less loss out the back of the combine. Shrink is shrink. Whether we take it in the field or in the grain bin. But I am confident in saying that harvesting some of our acres, especially acres that exhibit some issues this year is probably one of the more fiscally responsible choices we can make. I know that Mike has talked about this before, so I will leave it at that.

But Choice 3 is where technology comes into play. A tool like 360 Yield Saver can help us capture those bushels and get them into the combine. I am a realistic person here also. Getting those kernels into the combine isn’t the same as getting them into the tank. That is another set of challenges for another day, but I am going to be realistic here. Let’s say that a tool like 360 Yield Saver can capture six more kernels per foot as we go through the field and that we can get five of those six kernels into the grain tank. On 30” corn, with some quick math that is about three kernels per ear, or 0.46% of our production. But that number adds up to about one bushel per acre. And one bushel per acre gives us a break even on this technology of about 1800 acres on an 8-row head.

But here is the take home for the day. I don’t know your exact fields or your specific challenges this year. The 360 Yield Savers can capture a lot of corn when conditions are wrong, and just a little bit extra when they are right. But if one bushel per acre on all of your acres pays for itself, what would six BPA do on that one very challenging field. It would pay for ¾ of the system in one shot. Believe me, I am sensitive to your desire to spend money on this crop at this point in the year, but I also want to do the best for you fiscally that we can. Yield Savers are a quick change per row, at about five minutes each. If you have a dryland field that was especially stressed or other challenges, talk to our ACS Equipment specialists about what a break even looks like for you. We have a great ROI calculator and aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. The 360 Yield Saver isn’t for every acre every year. But, if we can make the right match, it will pay dividends.