So corn is $3 to $3.25 per bushel. Does that mean that you can afford to lose an ear or two and it's not the big deal it was when corn was $5 or more per bushel?
Absolutely not, Dave Nanda says. He's a consultant for Seed Consultants, Inc. If anything, one could argues every ear is more important now. It still goes toward the bottom line. And whether you're trying to break even or make a sizable net income per acre, every ear counts.
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That's because one whole, normal-size ear in 175 feet of row equals one bushel per acre. So if you leave behind three ears per 175 feet of row as you combine, you left three bushels behind in the field. Even at current prices that's nearly $10 per acre.
Jeremy Henry, Connersville, runs an older John Deere combine, but he takes every step possible to reduce harvest loss. One thing he did was mount a curved wire screen on the corn head. It is available from commercial vendors, and sits directly below the cob, covering the feederhouse area.
"What it does is keep ears from bouncing up and perhaps falling out of the head," Henry says. It doesn't impede his vision. He believes saving every ear he can puts more grain in his bin after harvest.
He also makes sure the snapping rolls aren't shelling any corn if possible, or only a minimal amount, off the ear. Kernels shelled off the ear and left behind on the ground instead of going through the combine also mean bushels lost per acre.
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A few kernels per square foot quickly turned into several bushels, which turn into several dollars that are left in the field.
Henry's goal is to keep the combine adjusted and in good working condition so that he can minimize field losses in both corn and soybeans.
For more corn news, corn crop scouting information and corn diseases to watch for, follow Tom Bechman's column, Corn Illustrated Weekly, published every Tuesday.