homepage logo

Be aware of stalk and grain quality issues

By Staff | Sep 21, 2018

Harvest is slowly beginning and thanks to multiple punches given by Mother Nature this year, many producers are starting to experience late season problems in the form of stalk and grain quality issues.



Mother Nature has packed quite the punch for the 2018 growing season and because of that, growers are still dealing with the consequences.

Angie Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, is warning producers to be on the lookout for several late-season issues affecting stalk and grain quality.

“We have some major stalk quality issues out there this year,” Rieck-Hinz said. “We have a crop that was under a lot of stress this year. It was too wet, too dry, too hot and then again too wet.”

A corn plant will cannibalize the stalks during times of stress.

“What happens is, the lower part of the stalk gets really pithy and soft and that can lead to standability issues,” she said.

Rieck-Hinz advises producers head to their fields and perform some stalk quality testing.

“Go out, pinch those lower nodes or maybe do the push test where you try to push the stalks at 30 degrees from the center,” she said. “We tell people to do 10 stalks in a row and do it 10 times in different places throughout the field and if you are somewhere around 10 to 15 percent of those 100 stalks showing issues, that field should be moved up into a priority for harvest.”

Grain quality

With the large amounts of rainfall that fell towards the end of August, producers should also be made aware of the potential for the quality of grain to be compromised.

“Another thing we want to be looking at right now, in those places that were really wet two to three weeks ago, is the grain quality issues that are popping up,” she said. “We are seeing grain molds and farmers need to recognize that.”

With the potential of an infestation of moldy corn, Rieck-Hinz said it is crucial to keep this year’s new crop and past year’s old crop separate.

“We really want new crop going into a separate area,” she said. “If we have some grain quality issues this year, we don’t want it to spread to the old crop from last year.”


Rieck-Hinz said soybeans throughout the countryside are in all stages of maturity right now.

“Some are completely mature and some are hanging on with a lot of greenish-yellow leaves,” she said. “But that’s what we expect. Planting was all over the board this year.”

The heat may be helping to naturally dry and mature the crops, but it could be detrimental as well.

“I would worry about some of these more mature fields and pod shatter if the heat would continue,” she said.

With some of the later maturing soybeans, Rieck-Hinz would encourage producers to continue to scout for any potential leaf diseases such as Sudden Death Syndrome, anthracnose or Frog Eye Leaf Spot.

It may be too late to help this year’s soybean crop fight those diseases, but identifying them now and realizing what conditions we were up against this year will help make decisions for next year.

The weather will continue to be the deciding factor on when harvest will begin in full force.

“There’s a lot of people just kind of sitting back just a little bit on that corn to get it dried down a little bit more so they are not paying so much for drying costs,” she said. “Exercise some caution. Be safe out there.”

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page