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When is maize ready to harvest?

Advice from our specialist Advice from our specialist1-9-2020

Forecasting the expected date of maize harvest is extremely important to maximise crop value as well as planning rotations. Harvest date is mainly determined by the variety sown and the season.

Maize harvest is influenced by geographical area, site, variety and the dry matter content of the crop. When assessing a crop it needs to be checked in several locations and not just the perimeter.

When is maize ready to harvest?

When the dry matter content of the crop is 28 – 35% then the crop should be harvested. This is when the leaves level with the cob and begin to turn brown and the leaves at the top of the plant are becoming pale and papery. When a plant is picked and the stem twisted, no juice will emerge.

Thumb Nail Test

For a quick in field assessment of crop maturity the thumbnail or the milk line test can be used. If you peel back the sheath on the cob the grains at the top of the cob should have a consistency which is comparable to soft cheese, whilst the grains at the bottom should be like hard cheese. Grains in the middle should just be able to take the imprint of a thumbnail.

Milk Line Test

Break the cob open half way down and remove one of the grain kernals. The milk line is where the solid starch ends and the liquid milk begins. The ideal is to have a 75 – 100% of the kernal yellow in colour (starch) instead of being milky and for no liquid to be excreted when pressed.

Maize - Milk Line Test

For more information

For further information on maximising your maize please contact your local ForFarmers Forage Specialist or send us an online enquiry here.