The Key Tips in Corn Yield Estimation

Corn yield estimates can be utilized for many purposes including planning storage requirements, marketing, making decisions about pests, and organizing harvest equipment. This is the reason why it’s important to know how you can convert field measurements into the right estimated corn yields. Remember that there are various methods that you can use to estimate yield potential at different times during the growing season. 

It’s also worth noting that crop uniformity can have a huge influence when it comes to the accuracy of any estimation method. You need to take random samples throughout your field to get the best yield estimate. This post discusses the key tips in corn yield estimation.

Understanding crop yield

Crop yield is considered to be a standard measurement of any agricultural production you harvest, so it’s expressed as yield of crop per unit of field area. Crop yield is a measure that is usually used for grain, legumes, or cereal and it can be measured in tons, bushels, or pounds.

You need to get sample sizes of harvested corn to measure so that you can determine the estimated corn yield for a larger field. Ideally, you can take one sample for every 10 and 15 acres as this is enough unless the conditions are not variable. You can take more samples in a nonuniform field to enhance the accuracy of the estimate.

Some of the most popular estimation methods for corn yield are the corn ear weight method and the corn yield component method. Each of these methods can provide yield estimates that are usually within 20 bushels per acre of actual yield. That said, here are some of the stages where you can estimate corn yield:

Estimating yield after emergence

While the corn plant is growing, it’s crucial to identify issues that can reduce yields. Therefore, this requires you to scout the fields regularly through aerial imagery or ground and do calculations so that you can convert point measurements to yield units that are normally by acre or bushels.

To estimate yield after emergence, you should make several assumptions. These include the number of rows of kernels that are on an ear, the number of kernels that are in each of the rows, and the number of kernels per acre or bushel. 

Get yield estimates in the early reproductive stages

As the season progresses, the corn yield estimate tends to become more accurate. There is the R1 growth stage that happens when silks can be visible outside the husk. So at this stage, the silks can catch the falling pollen grains and even fertilization happens when the pollen moves to the ovule. Each ovule can become a kernel. You can estimate yield by measuring the plant population and estimate the number of kernels per ear. 

Yield estimate in growth stages of R4 to R6

The R4 growth stage is known as the dent growth stage while the R6 growth stage is called the physiological maturity or black layer. At these stages, yield estimates can be more accurate when you use a corn yield estimation formula.

The first step you need to take is to determine the number of ears that are there per acre. You can measure off 1/1000 of an acre, so a tape measure is the most ideal and accurate way you can measure off the length of row. A quicker way, though less accurate way is to step off the row length. But with calibration and practice, there is a good chance you can step off the row length that has an accuracy of at least a plus or minus a couple of inches. 

For example, if you decide to work in 30-inch rows, you can count the corn along a length of row that measures 17 feet and 5 inches. Then you can estimate the corn plant population per acre by simply multiplying the number of corn plants per row length by 1,000. You need to know that across a corn field, it’s a good idea to take multiple estimates and take their average. Alternatively, if you have a variable population by area, then each area may require its estimate. These estimates can then be averaged depending on the percent area that you expect to have a similar population.

Another step is to determine the number of kernels per ear. You can do this by counting the number of rows per ear and the number of kernels per row. Therefore, if the ear size in your field looks uniform, you can select 4 or 5 average ears and then count the number of kernels per row. You should include only the rows and kernels that are fully filled.

There is also another step where you need to calculate the kernels per acre using the data you collect in the above steps. This should be followed by estimating the number of kernels per bushel. Keep in mind that the mass per kernel of corn can vary significantly. The number of kernels per bushel may range between 70,000 kernels per bushel and 105,000 kernels per bushel, assuming that a bushel is 56 lbs at 15.5 percent moisture.

The kernel weight can be quite sensitive to climatic conditions, especially between August and September. In wet conditions, a bushel can have 70,000 kernels while if August and September are dry and hot, a bushel can have 105,000 kernels.  

Your corn plant management that includes plant population, variety, and tillage can also affect the number of kernels per bushel. You can estimate the kernel weight per bushel by weighing a certain number of kernels that represents the entire number of kernels. 

It’s important to have a corn yield estimator in this competitive world. The good news is that there are various ways you can estimate the corn yield. Remember that estimating corn yield has many benefits including for planning purposes. Therefore, if you decide to estimate your corn, it’s a good idea to find a good corn estimator that are available on the market. 

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