Grain farmers are finding varying corn grain drying challenges in the wild, summer 2019 USA weather. Late plantings, varying wet conditions extending into the harvest time have made for confusing grain drying to avoid mold developments while stored. Moisture reduction in grain is due to evaporation as water must move through the pericarp basically as a physical phenomenon of water moving from higher to lower concentration. Warmer air absorbs more water than cooler air, and consequently prime field drying after black later is best with warm, dry winds. Open leaves surrounding the kernels on the ear, increases access to that warm dry air. Plants reaching black layer after the warmer days of late summer, are likely to have less field drying than normal seasons, and thus slower natural drying in the field.
Corn hybrid maturity classifications are often determined with some classification based upon moisture contents at time of harvest. 2019 data may not be a good year to make those classifications.
Seed breeding and production groups may have a more difficult time than most this year as well. Field variability probably was greater than normal due to excessive rain interacting with soil variability. Later planted test sites may have harvest moistures not typical for a given hybrid or predictive of performance in future seasons.
Drying seed is an art that includes manipulating air flow and temperatures in drying bins. It includes consideration of outside relative humidity. As moisture is withdrawn from the seed, cellular membranes, including those of mitochondria, are potentially damaged. Rehydration of seed for germination tests after drying can be the first indication of potential problems but often damage from does not become evident for some months later.
We all want to return to a normal season but what is that?
About Corn Journal
The purpose of this blog is to share perspectives of the biology of corn, its seed and diseases in a mix of technical and not so technical terms with all who are interested in this major crop. With more technical references to any of the topics easily available on the web with a search of key words, the blog will rarely cite references but will attempt to be accurate. Comments are welcome but will be screened before publishing. Comments and questions directed to the author by emails are encouraged.